As I've noted before, I usually try to get a good idea of my characters before I start to write. I like to know some of their background, their history, any quirks and oddities lurking in their fictional closets.
The other day I was working on my current manuscript and I was working on a Snip Scene: this is a scene I know I'll use at some point in the ms, I'm just not exactly sure where or when. The heroine and hero are talking and the lights go out. The lights should not go out. Bad guys are coming.
The hero goes to his desk and takes out a gun. The heroine asks if he has a backup. I gave her some knowledge of firearms, so this is not unusual. Then she proceeds to talk through an escape plan that's really pretty darn good. He says, "You're not a typical governess." And she says [wait for it], "No, I've done quite a bit of security work."
Well, damn -- that's the first time I heard about it! Suddenly a whole new realm of possibilities opened for me with this woman. Maybe that explains why she did so-and-so in the past; maybe that's why she reacted that way to a previous scene. I knew the events of her past, but now I know the why of them.
Did my unconscious mind know that this was going to come out of the blue like that?
This has totally changed the plot line (in a good way, I might add) and I am having fun with this 'new' character in my book. I really can't wait to see what happens next.