In the words of Ray Bradbury, "Remember: plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations."
The topic for this month's Round Robin is one I like very much: how do you go about developing your characters for a story? How much time do you spend or does it just happen in the writing process? What inspires it?
Following the line of Bradbury's quote, it is very rare for me to have a plot sans character. They arrive before--in many instances, FAR before--I have any inkling of where to send them. Most start with a random question. One day, when I was thirteen or fourteen (or maybe even twelve?), I was combing my hair in the upstairs bathroom of the house I used to live in. My long hair snarled and, since I'd been reading Greek mythology, I puffed out, "This would be ten times worse with snakes for hair." Like a shaft of heavenly aura illuminated me, my mind drew up an angry girl with snakes for hair, who lived in the same year where I currently stood, brush forgotten. How would someone with snakes comb their hair, anyway? Surely the snakes would all tangle together. In my quest to find out how this girl would function in the twenty-first century, I ended up writing my *technically* third full-length novel, Serpents and Flame (It is highly unlikely my first and second novels will ever have their text printed upon a page; I was too young. The ideas may get rescued, however?).
I actually often face the problem of having a really ace character, then having no clue what to do with them. I start off with their physical appearance, their general moral compass and character, and have more recently attempted to scrawl down some quirks before setting off. Otherwise discover their idiosyncrasies midway or worse, post-writing the novel. I only realized the main character of Monet Evanesce is asexual a few months ago, when I wrote the book over a year ago. I knew he had no real affinity for that sort of thing, but I was also certain that he liked women. Asexuality perfectly fits in with his core, and I'm excited to explicitly write it in in the sequel (whenever I end up plotting the sequel, ha).
Honest truth, I like spending time developing my characters more than developing the plot. I usually sketch out an endgame and realize all the twists and turns while I'm drafting, so I actually figure out what's happening the same time the characters are. But outside of physically writing, I flesh out my guys and gals. Who has trouble maintaining eye contacts even in peaceful situations, and why so? Who has a nervous tick that they always play with their hands? Who reacts with words during a time of high anxiety, and who resorts to physical methods? Who prefers tea to coffee, or neither? What's their favorite color, what's their favorite book? And on and on and on.
Follow along the list of authors to see how they round up the usual suspects!
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-YV
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com