As authors, our characters are often a part of our selves. Certain aspects, certain idiosyncrasies remind us of our own habits and tendencies. This recreation of ourselves is a subconscious attempt for the mind to understand itself better, a sort of blank slate that allows the author to mix and match, if you will, as he sees fit – until a three-dimensional representation of a human being is formed.
Our characters should never be just characters, a means to an end that is devised to help the plot progress or explain another character’s behavior. On the contrary, because they are so dear to us, because they are reminiscent of our own thoughts and actions, we should treat them as though they already exist. Instead of picturing them as things to develop, ideas to mold, notions to explain, we should see the character exactly as we see the people around us: as living flesh and blood.
As soon as the author realizes that his characters aren’t, in fact, his, that they are simply people of another dimension, waiting to be released by way of the writer’s craft, then a character becomes a person. A person with a backstory and feelings and habits just like you and me. Don’t look to make something out of nothing…everything you need is laid out for you in the details. What separates great writers from the rest is their ability to recognize the seemingly insignificant and use it to their advantage — much as a sculptor uses marble to create a masterpiece.