The answer… isn’t that easy to explain but I shall endeavor to try.
Think about yourself for a moment.
What makes you, you?
What makes you get up in the morning?
What kind of clothes do you like?
Where do you like to go?
What do you like to do there?
What do you think about during certain situations?
These can all be answered by you because you are you. You know you best… or hoped to think you do.
Now think about someone else. Someone you don’t know or you do know.
What makes them different?
What makes them nothing like you?
Why do you like them?
Why do you dislike or dare I say hate them?
Now get inside their head, imagine yourself there. Imagine you are them.
I see you: the man sitting on a park bench about to unwrap his deli sandwich and chomp into it during his lunch break. You have a nice business suit, well groomed. You look so ordinary… but what if you had on mismatched socks. Oooo, or what if it wasn’t your outwards appearance that grabbed me. No! It’s your thoughts! What are you thinking? You keep looking out at the park scenery, not the joggers running, or the children screaming and playing. You look past the people as if they aren’t there. What’s in your mind? What are you imagining right now? Where have you placed yourself in this world? Have you mentally changed jobs to something more exciting, say a starship captain who must save his crew from an alien attack. Or maybe a pirate attack? Maybe you’re imagining getting rid of your wife because she’s actually a witch who puts spells on you. Or maybe you’re not imagining anything at all. Maybe you just like the scenery, the trees, the flowers, the birds and squirrels. Maybe your own garden at home misses you. A pity you don’t have too many friends you can share your love of weeding and planting with. Except mouthy Mrs. Sweeney two doors down from your home and old lady Mitchell who keeps an eye on the neighborhood since she’s a retired widow. But there are no men to talk to… no… not anyone you know of. He looks down at his watch, realizing he hadn’t finished his sandwich, but his lunch time is over.
There are over six billion people in the world. That’s over six billion personalities. Over six billion individual experiences and stories. Over six billion unique spins you can add to your character. Your character doesn’t have to just be a cape clad super hero with dashing good looks. He could be a cape clad super hero with tattoos and scars he’s proud of because they tell the tales of his adventures. Those monstrosities are like trophies to him which he doesn’t mind sharing like an old war vet.
One of the things I love to do when creating my character is to make them stand out. Not just physically but socially, emotionally, mentally. For those who have read my books, the perfect example for this is Creed: an awkwardly dressed three-hundred-year old man who loves peanut butter and a teddy bear named Mario.
So the Moral of the story…
Create characters that stands out in your mind (and drives your story). And make them as unique as you are.