Welcome to another awesome blog chain. This one is brought to you by the fantastic Cole, who will be 29 forever (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). Her question is:
How do you get inside your character's world?
Usually with a crowbar and some rope. Oh. Characters. Got it. I thought you meant--
The real answer is: any way I can. Sometimes characters come up and start shouting in my ear. They tell me everything there is to know about them and lots of stuff I don't want to know. But sometimes they're shy and they string me along and getting info is like stealing candy from babies (which is NOT easy, btw..babies scream loud...and they bite).
I also use wiki's. You know, like wikipedia. What I do is start writing info about my story and then that leads to more and more. If you know how a wiki works, the articles can start to expand exponentially, but it's a great way to get loads of info down.
Another way is to handwrite. I'm a fast typist, but when my MC clams up, I find that talking to him or her via a fountain pen and a cool notebook helps me connect.
The best way though to get into my character's world is to just listen. Example: I got this story in my head about this teenage boy who was living in a hospital. I didn't know why or what he was doing. I didn't know his real name or anything. Just that he was living in a hospital. I wanted to know why, but my MC wasn't talking about it. He did talk about a lot of other stuff though. So I followed him around. I watched LIFE IN THE ER, I drew on my own experiences from EMT classes and the shifts I did in hospitals and on ambulances. Sometimes he told me stuff and I never knew what was true, but he told me his routine and introduced me to his friends. 66k words later, I knew everything I needed to know.
I've done everything to get into a character's world from contacting a magician, to stalking Google street view, to talking with a bad British accent to my dog. But the thing that worked the best is just listening to my characters. They give me all the info I need to know.
So I guess I'm the last link in this chain, so catch us again on March 1 when Eric, who wrote the post before me, starts off. Good luck, Eric!