In part 1 I discussed how I created characters for Stringed Instrument as a short story. After writing that short story, I decided it would be interesting to develop it into a novella (well, that was the plan; it ended up as a full-length novel).

Funny thing is, even though it was a continuation of the same story with the same characters, the change to a long format caused quite a shift in how I approached plot/character development...

Spoilers for Stringed Instrument. )
Question from a reader: "Your characters are fully fleshed out... Do you mind if I ask about your process for creating characters?"

I'm not sure how accurate an answer I can give to this one. Characterisation is quite an intuitive process for me; I don't usually plan it out consciously, I don't keep notes, and it's hard to reconstruct my thought processes in hindsight. So I'll describe what I think my brain was doing back when I wrote "Stringed Instrument", but take it with a grain of salt.

I get story concepts from many different places. Sometimes it's personal experience, sometimes it's from an incident described to me by a friend, sometimes from dreams. Often they sit around in my head for years because I don't have enough to work with. (Dreams are the most frustrating - they come with a strong feeling of mood and no clues for how to convey that mood or fit it into a plot!)

But sooner or later, a concept gets to the point where I feel like it's time to sit down and start writing. By that stage, the concept will have a couple of character roles attached - at this stage they're still very fuzzy, but it's somewhere to start from. From there, character and plot develop simultaneously, so this discussion covers both.

Spoilers for Stringed Instrument ahead... )

To be continued...

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bramblethorn

February 2014

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