This week, I sort of got blindsided when reading this bit from Bird By Bird. I often do the start of my book many times when beginning the story. After re-reading the segment on False Starts, I sort of slapped my head. What she meant by false starts was not knowing our characters before beginning the story. There's a bit about paying attention to one aspect of the character and not looking at the others.
Take the physical. A number of writers concentrate on getting the character's physical description out there. Editors have been known to want more details about the character's physical attributes. Perhaps this is one on my downfall areas but I'm much more interested in a characters actions and reactions than I am about what they look like. I don't cut out pictures of men and women and base my characters on them. Am I wring? I want my readers to expand their imaginations. I also get bored by reading long paragraphs describing the hero or heroine.
My false starts may be drafts long. I don't really know my characters until I've spent time with them and watched them interact with other characters. I don't look on these as false starts but as getting-to-know you explorations.
How well do you know your characters before you begin the story? Do you spend hours writing up descriptions or do you explore them during the unfolding of the story? As a draft writer I explore. I;m not the kind of writer who has to perfect each paragraph before I go to the next. For me this is boring but isn't it wonderful that everyone develops their own system for creating a story?