Robyn Campbell over at Putting Pen To Paper got me thinking about my characters. When I begin writing, I usually have at least one character in mind. But it's very much like puppy love between teenagers. You love someone, but you really don't know what it is about them that you love, nor do you really know them very well anyway.
As my stories progress, the characters reveal themselves to me slowly but surely. Yes, I am fully admiting that I am not in charge of their progression. They are. The little mannerisms they do or the turns of phrase they use sneak onto the page whenever they decide to let it slip.
In one of my projects for example, Kris is a 25 year old who feels a great deal of disdain for his fellow man. Until recently, he thought he was the only one on the planet who had truly great power, and the rest of humanity might as well be ants crawling on the sidewalk. I have found out however, that he's not as tough on the inside as the image he portrays to everyone else. There are things he's afraid of, and the possibility that someone greater than he exists does give him a long moment of pause. He has the capacity for love, an emotion he thought long dead in his heart. He might even believe in heroism a bit, though to date he is still fighting against that ideal. Since he figures he will outlive everyone else around him, he appears to be less than concerned for their welfare. Events are conspiring to change his mindset however, so there may yet be more to him than even I can imagine.
It's very interesting watching my characters grow before me, show me the various facets of their personalities. It also makes me realize I'm much better at characterization than I am at the details of their surroundings. I focus on them so much that I usually have to go back and add in what's around them later. I get to see my characters in much the same manner the reader does, so possibly that's a good thing. As long as I become well-acquainted with them by the end of the story, my reader should too. As I craft this post, Kris is already whispering new things to me, revealing little tidbits that he thinks I should include in the story. I still can't fathom how he chooses which details to share, but at least he's still talking to me.
How do you craft your characters? Do they speak to you in the corners of your mind or do you order them about like tin soldiers?