How do you develop your characters? Do you flesh out the details before (like writing as that character, writing backstory, or filling out a questionnaire about their preferences and history) or invent as you go?
Now, first, Deb Salisbury is posting today--and today is her day to post, so go over to her blog and see her answer to this! Laura posted her answer at the beginning of this month, and Lydia posted hers two weeks ago.
As for me:
I am not a pantster. I tend to outline or at least write out a lot of notes before I start a project. I think of it as a gearing-up phase, sort of like on a rollercoaster--you have that series of meh ups-and-downs before you start up the steepest hill to get to the heart-stopping downhill. It's a kind of critical mass, like I have to build a bit before I start writing in earnest. Once I do, I write fast, sometimes thousands of words per day, and am often finished with the book within 10-12 weeks.
Interestingly enough, though, my gearing-up process doesn't include a lot in the way of character development. It's incidental for me. That doesn't mean it's not important! It's just ... I don't do anything like writing journals from the characters' points of view or completing inventories of their preferences. A lot of those details emerge as I write the actual story.
What I do accomplish in the pre-writing phase: establishing a few core traits, including strengths and weaknesses. My characters have to be consistent, even when they're going to radically change over the course of the story-arc. I try to keep character temperament firmly in mind as I write, and if we're talking the POV character(s), then I want the prose to reflect it, which means I have to understand it ahead of time.
So I guess my approach is:
- I get the core traits in mind ahead of time, plus some history and background.
- I don't bother with the detail stuff, including preferences, habits, mannerisms, and pet peeves, until I'm actually writing the story, because I know it will evolve organically as part of the story-creation process.
How about you? What's your process?