"It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." William Faulkner
A perfect quote for where I'm at. I really am chasing after new characters, watching how they react with one another and how they cope with what I'm throwing at them. Exciting stuff.
When creating characters, I fill out questionnaires that tell me things like what they wear to their greatest fears and everything in between. I find these really helpful.
The other day I came across a unique idea in an email from Writers' Digest. It was to put your character on the witness stand then interrogate them from both the prosecutors and defenders point of view. A good way to bring out the worst and the best of your character.
But despite all the preparation, for me, the best way to really get to know my characters is to just start writing. That's when they leap off the page and start to tell me their story.
So how do you create your characters?