When I’m writing, one of the first things I like to do is get to know my characters. I spend time daydreaming about who they are. Do they have hobbies? What kind of food do they eat? What was the absolute worst most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to them? What are their dreams and fears? I’ll spend a long time doing this, jotting down notes. At first I get a lot of things wrong, but eventually my characters start to develop a life of their own. And that’s when they start talking to me.
I’m not joking.
When a character takes shape I can hear her shouting at me in the back of my head. (I imagine a more polite character would gently clear her throat to correct me in the nicest way possible, but I haven’t written one like that yet).
‘No!’ they holler. ‘I wouldn’t wear that! Not enough pockets!’
‘That might be how you walk down the street, but not me! I have way more rhythm than that!’
Here is the first real thing Alice Jones said when I asked her to introduce herself:
“My name is Alice Jones. I’m a detective. I’m also a schoolgirl. In fact, if you were to draw a Venn diagram labeled Fig. 1: Alice Jones, it might look something like this:
Ignore that small circle in the corner. That’s not important!”
Of course, once she said THAT I just had to know what that Little Miss Friendship business was all about. I also knew Alice was real and ready to move out of my head and into a book of her own.