In my experience, I can do the character worksheets. I can daydream the character's backstory. I can pin images on my Pinterest boards. I can figure out my characters' strengths, weaknesses, one-word descriptors, and growth words. But no matter how many of these things I do, I still feel distant from my main character until I get all the way through the first draft.
I don't know why that is. The only theory I have is that it's like going through a hard time with someone, and how that shared experience brings you closer together. If you're doing the whole writing-a-book-thing right, your character is going through one of the biggest challenges of their life. Easing them through that situation is what makes you dig deep enough to figure out who this character truly is.
Regardless of why this is true, I was comforted to read these words from bestselling novelist Angela Hunt and learn that this is a common experience;
"I never feel that I know my characters until I've finished the first draft. We're like strangers mingling at a party, sharing a few whispers and hinting at buried secrets."
- Angela HuntCan you relate to this phenomenon? Are you similar in that you have to spend a certain amount of time writing a character before you really know them? Or does something else help you?