This is an issue that I found out the hard way can lead to really huge disappointments and problems for a novel if not handled from the get go. I don't know how long the PanHistorian stays up but the issue from March 2006 has a article by Shemeit on character creation and issues surrounding starting in a novel.
I find as a MoB I spend easily several hours chatting online with prospective members to discuss issues such as what they want to do as writers in the novel. People tend to focus on some particular role and assume that the rest will follow, whereas if their role, if not planned for in the novel will result in problems as the character finds themself adrift, with nothing really to do.
Recently I spent the good part of a day discussing with a prospective member what they wanted to do and insisted on ignoring the question of who they would be. It was far more productive than trying to squeeze in a particular sort of character that was not really easily accomodated plot-wise.
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