I often go back and re-read old magazines, such as The Writer. February's (Which is already old news since March's is out already) had an article on "A Pyramid Approach to Novel Writing." It's really quite useful since I'm already more than halfway finished my novel. What do I mean? Well, if you think about it, the job/novel just doesn't stop when the writing stops. So, even if you're finished your novel I feel as though this article will be useful in thinking up query letters, pitches and summaries. The most useful part is a suggested character bible or source book.
I usually have a character list that I change and adjust as I go along. It keeps my characters straight. I started this in Grade 6 when I was introduced to the Greek and Roman mythological Olympic Gods and Goddesses. I couldn't keep them all straight. The names were hard and "did that Zeus guy really sleep with that many women or am I missing something?"
For each god or demi-god I created a profile card (Which I still do!) and would list their attributes, their patrons, and the basic W's and H. Who, what, where, why, when and How. This helped me figure out exactly who I was looking at and how they all fit together. That started my love of literature and complicated love triangles!
Now I am working on perhaps building a better character bible. Thing is that I really don't think I need to at this stage. My gut is telling me not to do it right now or I'll get side-tracked. I have a basic character list in an excel spreadsheet and I think that's enough to keep the details straight. I want to get the story out right now, you know? I'm so close to finishing the actual story and then moving on to the editing phase that I don't want to begin any new writing projects right now.
So, the plan is this. I will write until I hit the end of the story. When it's finished I will go back and begin working on characterization until I have each character figured out. Then I will begin ruthlessly editing until my story is perfect! I think it's a good plan. Plus, if I do character profiles/interviews now, then some of my book may be sabotaged. I like to learn more about my characters as they react to the plot and events in my novel. If I pre-meet them, it might make my creative process a little more rigid than I'd like. I want my characters to introduce themselves when they're comfortable doing so.
While I'm not a huge fan of Stephanie Meyers', I can appreciate that she does do some great writing exercises. One of which found itself into publishing, The Short Second life of Bree Tanner was originally meant for exploration on Meyers' part and what a great exercise it was. It was a really great example of getting into a character's head and finding more out about them than is in the story that you're currently working on. I hope to do that for my characters once the book is written, then I can go over it and say..."she would do this, he would do that," and I would know for sure because I would be very well acquainted with them by then.