Ann and I are both Books We Love authors.
I believe 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 hadn't thought of this specifically, but I know when I first get an idea for a story, it always starts with Who and What, and then the other factors follow.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?
In a way, I think of my characters as starting out as actors and then turning into real people. I usually get to know them as I write the first draft, and by the second draft I have a clearer picture of who there are.
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 have a vague idea of a character and a small kernel of a plot when I start out. I think my books are character driven, as the plot in many ways follows their wishes, hopes and/or dreams.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
I know in general how a story will end, but I don't usually know exactly how I'll get there! The characters, as I get to know them, lead the way.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
My books are set in Oregon, where I live now, or Connecticut, where I grew up. I have magazines with different kinds of houses and interiors that sometimes I use as guidelines for homes in the stories.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Both. And sometimes I ask people questions in person, or watch a sport, performance, whatever, to find out more.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
A little of both. I write a first draft, but each day I re-read what I wrote the day before, in order to jump-start the current day's writing, and I revise a bit what I have re-read. Sometimes when I get an idea later in a draft that requires changes earlier in the draft, I'll go back and make those changes. Other times, I'll just make notes and make the changes in a later draft. I probably write four drafts, saving each one, but there are several "mini-drafts" within each of those.