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Just wondering what technique everybody uses. I generally create the male and female lead first. Come up with the ending to the book so I can know where I'm going. Figure out some really cool scenes, what I call my action set pieces. Then I set the two main leads out into the wild and figure out as I type how they get from set piece to set piece and then to the end. I call those in between moments my character building moments, because that's when we learn who they are.

It's during those times that I create new characters on the fly who then make up the supporting cast.

The reason I asked this question is because it was during one of those "in between" moments where I invented a guy who should have been in the book no longer then five or six pages. I fell in love with him so much that I now like him better then the male lead.

The plan was to kill him off in those six pages and have the male lead live to the end. Now I plan on killing off the male lead in the book instead and letting the new guy live the whole book and put him in a spin off. (sorry but somebody had to die. Wouldn't be a rashaad bell joint if everybody lived to the end.)

Was just wondering if I'm the only one that does stuff like this.
 

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I have a "what if" story in mind before I come up with characters. For example, for my last book, what if an almost amoral killer comes across a woman who saved his life when they were kids, someone who has always been in the back of his mind as important to him. So then I have to come up with a background that would create a man like that, and for her a background that would create what she was as a girl when she acted to save him and what she's like now as an adult.

So my characters are creations of the story I want to tell. In any one of my stories, if the characters were other than who they are, the story would be different because they'd react to the original circumstances I put them in differently.
 

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I first come up with a hook for a story then write out character profiles (looks, personality, background info). I google actors and look for a face that stands out to me, that matches what I see in my head, and then I create a visual board on Pinterest. When I write, half the monitor is my Word document and the other half is my visual board. Seeing my characters' faces really inspires me to write.
 

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I've only completed one story so far, and it is a character sketch, a hero's journey explaining why the heck my dog is so obedient. So, I started writing the story to explain how the character got to be a certain way. Once I had done that, all sorts of fun what-ifs came up, so I worked them into the second half of the story.
 

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I write a lot about my characters before I write something with them. I write five minutes on What their best moment was in life. What was their worst moment. What makes them happiest. What made them the saddest. What happened to them when they ran out of gas on the side of the road once. You don't really understand your characters until you get inside their heads and walk around a bit. The story will just flow once you get that understanding of them and your characters will spring to life and be so much more dynamic!
 

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I'm with you on that, Rashaad.
My characters evolve along the way and sometimes run away and start doing their own thing. Then you have to stick with it to see where it goes.
Sometimes they need to be reigned in and other times they know far better where they have to be.

I made up a minor bad guy in Only Human who grew to interesting proportions. I've had a few reader comments about him and so I put him into the prequel, too.
 

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I kinda work backwards in developing my characters. I don't start out with a person with X character traits. I statr out with a setting and a general plot, then I fill in an generic character that has to play a certain role. THEN I start to give the character a history and character traits that I think would motivate him to act the way he did when he came to the predicament or whatever that I threw him into. So, if I need a guy who's a social dumpster fire, I might give him a history of family abuse, that sort of thing.
 

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I've got a single page form that I fill out, with the particulars, hair, eye etc. Then I run down a list of motivating traits. 'What does this character want?' Which usually sets their role in the story.
 

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I write a monologue for my main characters, usually about 500 words, as they muse over the situations facing them.  I tend to use these eventually in the text but they're usually one of the first things I write. 

This comes after I've worked out what the point of the character is, though, which comes from filling a void in the plot.
 

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My characters develop as I write them. But I write romance, which in my case rarely has more than two main characters and a couple of supporting ones, so it isn't especially hard to keep them all straight. I get a good deal of feedback on my characterization (even if it's I hate this character with a vengeance!, which sometimes happens), so it apparently works for me.
 

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I am on my second book. My main characters, I planned them out. Names, looks, hobbies, and abilities if they have any. The rest of the characters write themselves.
 

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ShortySmalls said:
I first come up with a hook for a story then write out character profiles (looks, personality, background info). I google actors and look for a face that stands out to me, that matches what I see in my head, and then I create a visual board on Pinterest. When I write, half the monitor is my Word document and the other half is my visual board. Seeing my characters' faces really inspires me to write.
Intriguing!

I may have to just try that.

I usually just start with an idea and my characters build slowly as I write the book. I work backwards a lot to put in little details as I discover who they really are.
 

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I try and make character sketches first, mostly focusing on the internal stuff like what the goals are and who they are. Of course I do add physical, but it's not my first thought.
 

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I have a tendency to develop a few main characters, outline the story, then allow the rest of the characters to come to life as I write the story. The setting of a scene will often dictate the new characters that pop up. Sometimes they make me happy and I develop them, other times they get in the way and I kill them off (either in the story or with the delete key).
 

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I love this thread!

Each book is different, but usually, I start with character in a scene and I know nothing about them or their issues and I have to start writing to figure it out. Like, "There's a girl reading under the covers with a flashlight and she looks out her window and sees a burning man fall from the sky." Was basically how I started Falling Under. I didn't know a single thing about anything else. So, while frustrating sometimes....it can also be fun. Like watching a movie where you have no idea what happens next.
 

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I create them on the fly. That's why it is called the creative process.

Pre-written characters tend to be stolid and most of the time end up changing drastically anyway. Much better to make them up as you go, adjusting them accordingly as the plot progresses. Fewer restraints on the plotting process that way.
 

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In her blog, Elizabeth Moon once said that when she was ready to start a new book she called all the characters who live in her head and talked to them, and then she wrote a story about the one that was ready to be written about. (very rough paraphrase) That is pretty close to my own method.

Right at the moment, Black Archibald Douglas and his cousin William are poking at me to write about them. I keep telling them to wait while I do some research but they're impatient.
 

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Well first a mama character and papa character fall in love...

I have my main protagonist, antagonists, support characters, mentors and cheats/tricksters already fleshed out fairly well with all of their physical attributes written down and a brief summary of their personality type.  Then I sit down and create a list of about twenty male and female names that I like on a note-card.  I keep this list handy whenever I need to throw in a character.  It's like having a list of extras lined up waiting to get their moment of fame.  Four of the extras have managed to become fairly major players in my trilogy that were not originally penned into the outline.  I like the list because I don't have to spend any time trying to create a person on the spot.

The rest of the story building for me is a fairly structured process that gets created around the ending and I build backwards towards that ending and a few key scenes that I feel are pivotal to the story.  Once I have the basic map, I do a more thorough outline, chapter by chapter, scene by scene.  Then I edit the outline to make sure I don't have any obvious plot or logic holes that I will run into and make sure that it flows and I don't end up with dead zones where nothing happens to advance my characters towards that ending.

Then I write while following the outline.  There is plenty of pantsing going on during the writing process as evidence to the four characters mentioned above.  It works for me.
 

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I start of with sort of ghosty/vague ideas for them when I have my first inkling of a story, then they become more wireframes as I figure out the basic plot. They become flesh and blood as I research. I know them pretty well by the time I start to write actual pages. I also "cast" actors or public figures (used Albert Schweizter once) as the face of many of my characters. I make a gallery of their pictures and print and put it on my wall.
 

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As I fly by the seat of my pants throughout, I just let the dialog the characters spout, 'make' the characters in the reader's mind.

As to where the dialog comes from, who knows? Most people have quirks, eccentricities, and/or concerns that aren't the concerns of the main character. Therefore dialog that flows from them reflects these varied perspectives.

I rarely bother with too much description, preferring broad brushstrokes - and letting the unique dialog from each character 'create' the character in the reader's mind. There again, I come from a play writing background, where dialog has to do a lot of work: convey meaning and nuances, so I find it helps propel the narrative forward to not waste time on over-painting each character for the reader.

All that's important is whatever propels the story forward, and for me, the fact of whether someone has a beard or not, is irrelevant. Unless another character, for instance, hates beards - in which case they'll be the one to mention it. As the narrator, I'm not going to bother describing the beard, after all there's a forward rushing narrative to attend to...
 
/2 cents worth
 
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