Most of my characters tell me what they do in the situations I put them into. It’s like I am running a massive RPG in my head. It isn’t that I hear them, but I often have issues getting the recalcitrant creations of my vivid imagination to do what the plot calls for.
Alan Pierce is a character that has been in my head since the late 70s. He is probably not my first, but is the one that I have been building the longest. He has always been the edge of the law merchant captain, not so much rogue as the protector of what is his. For him that is the most important job. At one point in my story, I needed him to approach Royce for a favor. He wouldn’t do it. No matter how many times I worked the scene it fell apart. One of my support crew suggested I flip the scene and have Royce ask Alan what was bothering him, and the scene worked.
Yeleen Ashtig, a name that I got from a random name generator in a now defunct Star Wars game, has been used in multiple mobile games while I crafted her story. That story I first thought was isolated from my large Universe until Yeleen told me how it fit. The Earthbound story started as a dream, I hope that Benton’s story is my third finished manuscript. It is at least closest.
Almost all of these characters have at some point also been fleshed out in actual tabletop RPG’s, as many belong to my wife. Long game conversations have built these people into my consciousness, and I hope it translates into the pages so that other people can see them as real.
In all of my writing, I have tried to show my characters as people, not just paper dolls to drive the plot, and that is always what I suggest to others. Get your characters to be people and let them show you how the story plays out. They can surprise me some times as it wasn’t the outcome I envisioned when I started, but hopefully it is the more entertaining one.