Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Which comes first: character or story?
This idea spawns a number of questions such as: Does anyone live there now? If so, who? Who is supposedly haunting the house? Where (in what city, country) is the house located? Who are the neighbors? Has anyone investigated the rumors? What happened?
From there, I would probably start to hone in on a particular character from whose point of view I think I might like to write -- for example, someone who lives in the house, someone who lives nextdoor, someone who investigates paranormal activity, the ghost him/herself, the house itself.
I usually don't start with a character, but I can see how that could happen. Perhaps in your mind there's a tall, gangly boy with straw-colored hair who is running away from home. From there, you would try to discover who he is, why he's running away, where he plans to go, and so forth.
So what usually comes first for you? A character who insists on your attention or a story that wants to be told?