Sometimes it’s difficult to create characters in such a way as to make them individuals. Writers often want and need to give their characters the same qualities they have themselves. It’s hard to develop a character when everything they believe and stand for is the opposite of your own opinion.
Often people who don’t read genre books fear that they will all be the same and pretty boring after a time. But the truth is – a well written romance, mystery or fantasy is every bit as exciting to read as any classified ‘great’. If you study those books you can see the character development is often the key to making it great.
You should develop your character using characteristics that they have, not what you feel yourself. Everyone is an individual. Using fear of flying as an example you would not have your character happily hopping onto a plane to get somewhere. He/she will use whatever alternatives are available. So if he/she drives and is an environmental advocate there is further conflict and further debate in the mind. But what happens if he/she has to fly? Then there should be a plausible explanation why or how he/she does it. Each characteristic should be thought out carefully, then if faced with having to do it – there will have to be a good reason how he/she will accomplish that.
That is one way a writer can develop unique, individual characters. It’s easier to do if you fear flying and much more difficult if you love flying.
One of the most effective ways for me is to imagine a debate team – pick a topic and then research arguments for both sides. If someone is an environmental advocate and someone is working in the oil-field there is a conflict in characters and they can’t both have your own views. But using reason and common sense – you can see both sides. You now have two ‘individuals’ and your conflict as well.
Another method I use is to imagine something I fear and the feelings I get from that fear – then use my own feelings to make my character’s fear (which might be different) come to life.
If you are able to, submerse yourself and become your character and write your story. Role play. Just remember to come back to reality when you’re finished.
I often find books where their characters just do what the author says they should, disregarding individual quirks and characteristics.
Beware you don’t make the same mistake.