I love reading about other people's favorite writing tactics. I've heard some amazing ones from vision board to index cards to making a t-shirt that has a phrase that sums up a character (that being one of my favorites, and it's fun to try to think of one for your main characters). That all being said, I thought I would share one of my favorite things to do to help with character development and writer's block.
I love pictures. I know, I know, it's all about the pretty pictures, but it helps me think through a scene or a character. So, on days that my writing is going slowly or I just plain can't think about what a character looks like, I like to surf the Web or flip through magazines trying to find the person that looks like my characters (or setting seeing that I treat the setting like a character). I don't remember where exactly I picked up this idea, although I think it was from Deborah Schneider at the PNWA conference. If it was her, I have to thank her because it is invaluable to me. And before anyone mocks me, it isn't just about looking for attractive people, it's about the process of finding my character. Think about it for a minute. As I search, I have to more and more tightly define WHAT my character looks like, her/his mannerisms (because they really do come out in photos), what they might wear, etc. While looking for photos, I formalize who they are to me.
The same thing goes for the setting, especially if you treat setting as a character. I have tons of pictures on my desk, in files, stuck to the wall, all bits of a world that I am trying to put together.
Well, that's my bit for today.