We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?
Completely agree. All the questions are there: character, setting, time period, etc, as building blocks. The plot must have the conflict as key, so that would be my second answer. All of these elements lead to my conflict.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process? How do you find a character's goal and what drives them to accomplish the goal?
My characters come to me when I am daydreaming or am inspired by something. I saw my heroine in Sex, Lies and Contracts on the Cliffwalk in Newport Rhode Island. She was just standing in the pouring rain, crying about the death of her father and feeling her mansion was now her prison. I had to take it from there. I think about strengths, weaknesses, physical appearance, etc. and usually brainstorm for a while, sketching out their story.
My process is all over the place. I wait for the characters, then move on the book. Usually, I know their inner strengths and weaknesses, and an idea of what the main problem is. Same thing with the hero.
As for the goal, I like to pit their past against them for growth arc. And then pit them against each other for their conflict. I'm a big inner conflict girl, I like to get inside a character's head and mess with them - lol. With Sex, Lies and Contracts, I wanted to show how identities and expectations from others can both drive the goal forward, and cause conflict within the goal. Accomplishing them sometimes is different from what they originally thought, and you will see this with my heroine in that novella.
2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
Characters always come first for me. Plot second. The characters usually tell me the inner conflict, which is big for my books, and then I brainstorm for a plot to move them forward.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
I know it will have a happy ending and that's about it! I usually know the major conflict and an idea of the plot, but how they work it out is up to them, I am just with them for the ride.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
I like to choose settings I know. Most take place right here in upstate New York, but some of them came about from my vacations. Cape May, Newport Rhode Island, Lake Como, Italy, etc.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Online is the best place to do research for me - I love the computer and enjoy visiting different sites for the information I need.