I’ve discovered a new source of character ideas, at least for me. Anyone can get ideas in the same way, even if not from the same source.
I’ve started watching Stunt Junkies. The reason why is that the people on this show are so unlike me, yet this modern documentary gives me a window into their souls. Why do they do the extreme stunts they do? What drives them? What do they need? Are they after glory? Or thrill? Or some sort of satisfaction? There are many less dangerous ways to make money, so it can’t be that. What was the most traumatic thing that happened to them? What was the most glorious? How do they perform their stunts? How do their minds work? Do they feel the world around them or do they have strong intuitions? Are they introverted or extraverted? Do they rely on logic or emotion? These are just some of the questions I ask myself.
Beginning writers generally make all their characters like themselves, or some variation thereof. We all naturally expects others to be like us, even if they’re not. This is in fact the source of many disagreements and arguments. If you want to fill out your characters in ways you couldn’t imagine, look at people who are most unlike you. Don’t judge them. Just understand what drives them and what personality traits they have. Then weave these characteristics into your fictional characters.