When I wrote my first novel, I learned from a writing friend the value of getting to know your characters. I spent ages paging through magazines to find suitable name; a first name from here, a second from somewhere else.
Once I was happy with the names, I worked on their relationships with one another. When I felt I really knew who they were, I sat down again with a pile of magazines and looked for them. It was an amazing exercise. I knew I would recognise them when I saw them, and I did too.
One of my characters took days to find, but I eventually found her picture. I made a collage of all the characters, and added key information about them. I stuck the collage on the wall, where I could look at them when I needed inspiration.
My next novel, I got more clever and stuck the pictures to a whiteboard. Then I could write in characteristics as they developed. For number three (during NaNoWriMo) I used the facilities of yWriter (#2 I think it was back then) where I could put in a photograph, and add other details as the story developed.
I found that the more I worked with the characters, the better I got to know them. They developed a real life and personality of their own, which came into play when I was writing the story. If I tried to get them to do something that went against their characteristic traits, they wouldn’t do it.
Who says there’s no point in visualising?
Now it’s your turn. How do you get to know your characters?