One of the things that makes characters real for me is working and not really working at a unique and integral view of the world; however, what works for me is having a unique view of the world with a novel, one synthesized in subtext or not, but definitely organic-driven–meaning all of a novel’s points, so I’ve learned in my own drafting, go back to what’s organic, especially if a character’s motivation and interactions are with his/her city because what’s considered home and yet the unknown or somewhat familiar forces a character to contemplate himself/herself sometimes to the point of disassociating until organizing his/her experience. A novel is like covering hundreds of square feet where your numbers are in place and with a pattern that gives you synchronicity. It’s interesting how something so general and simple such as a city can make or break the direction of a character’s life. I guess my point here is really thinking enough about how utilizing geography manifests a sense of dignity with a character or characters or dignity minimized to explore what a character’s native city means to him/her and where the author delivers more the direction of the character to the reader. Atlases. Geography. I’ve always found both are cool things, not necessarily frightening things as they may seem. At least not on and in paper. It’s a bit easier for me to start, say, with a location or a city, and let it mentor the character.