One thing I’m not very good at is giving thought to my characters before writing. They seem to evolve on the page. With every novel, I think: I should work up a character sketch, an interview, give some thought to these people. But every time I manage to neglect what I see as a chore.
Here’s what one screenwriter does:
…before I start to write, I’ll do a character check, ask myself whether I really know these people, what they love, what they hate, what they’re afraid of, what they want, how they move through a room, what their voice are.
—from The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters
I really, really, really should do this.
Rob, I find I discover a character on the page, too, but over many drafts. Thinking it through a bit before writing might cut down on the rewrites. That or finding a Third Eye!
I should do that too, but I see the character in my “Third Eye” and once the name gels with the image, the character behaves as she or he wills.