This round, Abby wants to learn about our characters:
Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?
Kate posted before me, and Eric will post tomorrow.
Unfortunately for me, if there's such a thing as a Characters'R'Us store, I have yet to find it. I would say for me, characters tend to start with the original idea I get for a story. For example, when I came up with the idea for my novella "Move Over Ms. L.," I wanted to write about someone listening to the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club before they hit it big. I wanted a SF twist, so I came up with a time traveler from the future. I then started asking myself questions, such as "Why was this person go then and there?" and "Why was she in particular chosen for this mission?" Gradually, as I turned the idea over in my mind, the character of Joanna Lennon, the great-granddaughter of John Lennon who preferred science to rock'n'roll, came to mind. I don't often develop a character through directed questions the way I did for this particular story; more often, I look for people who might be involved in the particular story idea I have in mind and go from there, pre-writing in my thoughts as I think about characters and possible scenes for a story.
Another important source of characters for me is other characters. I've mentioned before in a previous blog chain post how my story ideas turn into family sagas. So after my first set of characters have their adventures, fall in love, and start families, I have to find something to do with their kids. My current projects, Across Two Universes and the sequel Catalyst in the Crucible, involve children of characters in "Move Over Ms. L." (I've de-Lennonized these books, so they're not direct sequels at this point. If I ever publish my novella, I'll have to decide if I want to use the original version or alter it to fit the other stories.)
I don't have a formal process for getting to know my characters. I don't normally write character sheets (I keep all that information in my head, though I did prepare a few character sheets as part of NaNoWriMo prep) or interview them. I get to know them as I play with them in my head, then as I write and revise. Sometimes they change considerably from draft to draft. I do feel part of me has to go into each character for me to make him or her authentic.
The phrasing of this question reminded me of the song "Getting to Know You," so I'll end this post by sharing this YouTube video from The King and I: