30 Days of Writing-Day Nine

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

Ooh, tough one! I don’t usually have information at all about characters before I start writing. I generally have an idea, though not always. My short fiction starts with a blank page and a blank mind. Why a blank mind? I like to sit down and just let the ideas roll out. It’s not necessary to know every single detail about a character. It helps to know as much as I can, and only if I’m having difficulty with the story do I ever go into extreme depth with my characters. And it does help with story. In first drafts, I generally lay everything on the table, including details that I don’t need. This helsp me define the character as I go along. Afterwards I take out unnecessary details.

If I’m having trouble with a story, if it feels stagnant or unmoving, or even if the tension arc isn’t high enough, I’ll play with the characters, and have them ‘tell’ me about their life, though really it feels more like spying or a psychic hotline call. For me, a story is drive by character, but it’s also drive by surroundings. All the elements of craft come together in to form a story. If any element is off, I try to understand character first before tackling other elements.

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