I am a novelist. To be more specific, I'm an Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novelist. My characters become like family, or old friends. But where to start with them? How do they come alive? That answer isn't so easy.
I've read many blogs, sites, conversations, etc on character building, and while I don't agree with all of it, a majority is similar to my own style. Rachel Vincent comes up with her character first, then the story, then her plot. Me? I come up with a situation first. It can be something as simple as a woman or man saying a specific phrase that pops into my head. Or, it can be more elaborate and an entire scene builds up in my consciousness. My family has learned when I struggle to find a pen and paper to get out of my way. I have to write it down, right then and there.
Next, I figure out who my key players will be. Just the two main characters at first. The heroine in my newest WIP is a petite (5'2", 105lbs) woman, with fair skin, and long, red curly hair. The hero is a 6' tall Choctaw man, with long black hair, and warm, chocolate brown eyes.
So now I have a physical description in my head. What next? Next, I focus on each character and imagine their personality traits. Are they intelligent? Street smart, but not book smart? Are they clumsy, graceful, eloquent, stubborn....and the list goes on. Then, after I've gotten as detailed as I possibly can about their looks and personalities I give them a past, present and future. These attributes, any of them, may or may not make it into the books.
For instance, do you really care that Angel dislikes peas? Or that Jason loves classic rock? Nah, not in less it's pertinent to the story line.
So now you know my procedure for character building (world building will be saved for a later blog). What's your method?