I've been doing a lot of reading over the last few weeks.
I've read several newly released historical romances. I've read a few pieces of classic literature that have been on my list to read for quite some time. I've read Lord of the Rings (again--it is an annual read for me). Right now, I'm reading the Harry Potter books (again--as a refresher before the next movie is released in November).
And all of this reading has set me to wondering something. I've been wondering how these authors have gone about coming up with these stories and these characters.
Did the characters come first and they built the plot around the characters? Or did the plots come first, and then they built the characters around the plots?
I know, I know. It is a little bit like the old question of the chicken and the egg. But I'm always curious about other authors and how they go about their craft.
I know how my stories come to me. They start as a tiny little scene. It might become a pivotal scene in the grand scheme of the novel, or it might be something that actually never makes it into the finished product. But it starts with a scene, so in that way, the plot comes first.
Or does it?
Because the next step I take is figuring out who the characters in this scene are. How did they come to be there? What made them make this particular choice? I dig really deep and discover what makes each character tick before I know anything else about the plot, aside from that one little scene that instigated it all.
Only then, after I know all the ins and outs of my characters, and how they will react if placed in certain situations, do I begin to formulate the rest of my plot.
But that's just me. I know every writer is different in how they go about creating their characters and their plots.
Am I alone in thinking about these kinds of things as I read? Does anyone else sit and wonder if J.K. Rowling knew that her characters were going to go through the things they go through in book seven when she started writing book one? Does anyone else question whether Lord of the Rings would have ended in an entirely different manner if Tolkien had chosen Sam to be his hero instead of Frodo? Do these kinds of questions drive anyone else to the point of madness, or is it just me?
And if you know what your own process for story germination is and don't mind sharing, please do. Just because I'm always curious.