During my recent interview with Historical Author Kaki Warner, she mentioned that everything in her book was to show characterization and not necessarily to advance the plot. As a plot-driven author, I found this statement amazing. The fact that she does advance the plot comes secondary, I suppose.
I've given that statement a lot of thought as I outline my next story. I'm getting to know my characters, and will know them well by the end of the book. But I confess, right now, I don't know their character/backstory well enough to fill out character sketches, graphs or to conduct character interviews. Nor do I know what plot points to put them through to "show" their personalities or character at the beginning of the book.
I simply have to have a plot first (or have an idea of what kind of plot I'm writing) before I can focus on the characters. I've given some thought to creating a story for my teenage characters from my soon to be published novel, but the plot is shaping before I get to know these boys as grown men.
So how about you? Is this part of creating intrinsic? Kind of like -- the chicken or the egg? What comes first when you're writing? The characters or the plot? I'd really like to know your process.