Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?
Most of my characters are loosely based on people I've known throughout my life. Or, more accurately, different traits from multiple people crammed into each character. I've also stolen a trait or two from characters I've liked in movies or on TV. And, of course, all my characters have a little bit of me in them--some more than others. But that’s just the beginning. My characters have to feel like living, breathing people before I can really get to the heart of the story, which, to me, is the characters. :) So how do I get there?
I've tried all sorts of things to improve my understanding of my characters. Those dreadful character interviews. Ugh. I don't even like filling those out for myself. And journaling from the character's POV, but it never lasts very long. I always want to get back to writing, which usually happens after I'm distracted by a bit of dialogue that I just have to write down. That leads to a reaction from another character and, before you know it, I've completely forgotten about whatever lame interview/journal thing I was working on.
It's taken a lot of trial and error to figure this out, but the thing that works best for me is just writing--scenes that usually don't end up in the finished product but help me understand how a character would react in a situation. The key is to go in with no preconceived ideas about how the scene should go. I just present a conflict--story-related or otherwise--and let the characters take over. This has worked for most of my characters. Sure, in the end I have a lot of discarded scenes, but it's what works for me.
So what about you? How do you get to know your characters?
Be sure to check out Cole's post tomorrow. :)