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?
You know, I took a lot of writing classes in undergrad, and I've heard these mentioned time and time again. I don't care what I write, I think about the five Ws and one H. Even though I learned these in relation to journalism, they translate into plotting: character development, story development, and scene setting.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process? I don't know if I have a "process."
Usually some spark of an idea comes to me about a piece of the story. From whatever small piece of the story I have the rest of the story develops.
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?
Oops :-) I guess, I've answered part of this. For every story that I've written so far, it's been different. Maybe because I'm a huge pantser. I've tried outlining my story, but I never stick with it. But, I love writing character profiles. I find pictures that look like the characters I have in mind, and then I develop their backstories, which help me create the push and pull of the story as I go. I always finish each scene with the question...what if? Each answer to that question helps me flush out my story.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin?
In a general way or a specific one? I had this discussion with a writer friend of mine the other day. She has the ability to jump around in her stories without affecting the continuity of her stories. I can't do it. I don't know why. As I write the story, I get to know the characters. As I get to know them, the story develops. After I finish the initial draft, then I often go back and add or cut scenes, but I have to get the basic story written, first.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
I think, in the beginning, it was easier to write what I knew, but now, I write about things I've never experienced and places I've never seen . I spend a ton of time researching. And, yes, as a result, I have a ton of images of all types of things saved to my computers.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Both. Right now, I'm researching a story idea that has a bit of a historical thread. I've been using both books and online to research different pieces of the story. Some things just aren't available. I'm even taking historical tours of some of the areas!