We all know there are six elements of fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is plot. What's your take on this?
I do agree fiction has all those elements. I think of them more in terms of goals, motivation, and conflict. In a similar way, they lead me to the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. From there I get the How – the plot, which always comes last for me.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
I wouldn’t say I have a specific method. I’ve used a couple. For the most part, I think of my characters reacting to a situation and form an impression of them pretty quickly. The specifics though, the reasons they are the way they are, come as I begin writing. If I need more from them, I have had my hero and heroine answer some questions. But rather than my interviewing them, I set up a mock first date. I found some interesting first date questions on an online dating website which help me figure them out.
2. Do your characters come before the plot?
Always! On a rare occasion, it may be the theme of the story, but I’m driven by the characters.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
I’m almost all panster when it comes to writing. The endings always a surprise. I was once told by a very wise author (e-hem), of course you know how it ends – it’s a romance, they wind up together. Or something to that affect. J When I’m stuck I keep that in mind.
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
Out of everything, I think setting is the hardest for me, but I don’t let it limit where my stories take place. I’m sure along the way I’ve purchased a book or two that would help, but Google Images has become my go to resource for a quick visual. From aerial shots of Area 51 or the floor plan of a Las Vegas casino, I usually find what I am looking for.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
I use online resources a great deal. I’m amazed at what you can find answers to there. But, when I need a lot of information on a single topic, I do hit the books. I’ve collected a funny mix of books over time, like Physics for Dummies, on Investing, and the History of England.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
I wish I were a plotter! I tried it once, but I think I sprained something. It helped in some ways, but I started to get lost in polishing plot details rather than increasing my word count. So I write and polish as I go along, though the end result is still just a first draft. Ongoing polishing helps keep my thoughts moving forward, because I’m not mentally tracking details that need to be corrected or changed later. Of course, that’s not the end of revisions, but the first draft is just clear of obvious flaws.