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?
I agree that in the end those elements have to be there. And usually in that order.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?
When I start, I usually have the heroine in mind first. I have a sketchy idea of goal, motivation and conflict. And then I build my hero around the exact opposite of what my heroine wants. I read that if you make your hero a firefighter then your heroine should be an arsonist. Not really but you get the point.
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?
I usually fly by the seat of my pants. I just recently wrote a synopsis for the next story I want to write. We will see which works better for me.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
When I am writing with suspense elements I know how it will end and 'who done it." Then I work backwards to make sure all the clues are there but not too obviously. There's nothing I hate more that an ending that comes out of nowhere... unless it is an ending that is so obvious that I can't read to the end.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
Most of my settings are either in my Metro suburbs or in places I have lived. The specific settings are usually in buildings I am familiar with. A house I have been in, a town center where I spent time. I find when I read a book based on a real town, I am disappointed if they get the facts wrong. I prefer fictional towns unless you know for a fact that the "catholic church in on the corner of 5th and Main."
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Mostly I research on line. But when possible, I like to take a road trip. I spent time on the Iroquois Reservation for Class Action. Road around costal Rhode Island for Sex and Key Lime Pie, and the mountains of Vermont for Codename: Romeo. The biggest challenge I ever hand was when the editor of my first book, Homeward Bound, asked me to change the setting from Oklahoma to New Mexico.