For me, characters are the make or break factor, in a work of fiction – more so than any other element, such as plot or description.
My own characters are real to me.
This doesn’t mean that I know everything about them. It means that, what I don’t know, I can potentially discover. I know some of my characters much better than others. That is the way with real people, after all.
I don’t consciously “make things up”.
My process is more intuitive. I would say that I “realise” details about my various characters. I learn as I go. I might be daydreaming about something unconnected to my story, and then something will occur to me. Sometimes I even have a thought, or experience an intense emotion, and it takes me a moment to understand that I am inside a particular character’s mind. Because some – okay, most – of them have been through hell, their minds can be scary places, at times.
Ultimately, all of my characters are myself, and yet, none are entirely me.
There is a part of me in each of them. We are on parallel life journeys – my fictional people, and myself. They do sometimes shut me out, but I can usually get through to them eventually. I am closer to them than almost anyone in real life.
This is just a brief introduction to my personal character development process, and hopefully, I will write more blog posts about aspects of character development, in the future.