A writer often starts writing about himself or his experiences. Our first characters are usually some kind of reflection of ourselves… what we are, what we wanted to be, what we hate and love about ourselves.
This is normal, expected and actually good practice. It’s important for you to know yourself and explore your own personality, since, when you create a character, you need to explore it and it would be harder if you’ve never done that before. The words, descriptions and everything else you’ll craft around these first characters are kind of who you are, which makes them special.
However, this is just the beginning, and eventually, it comes time to evolve and create something else entirely. You do not want every single character to become a different version of yourself, do you? So, when you finally reach this point, what should you do?
It’s never easy, no matter the circumstances, to see something from other people’s point of view. However, as a writer, this is your job, so you need work at it, and practice it a lot. Empathy is the key here.
So, start freeing your mind from all of your beliefs and prejudices and look at your story from different points of view. Try to write the same scene, narrating it with the different voices of the several characters that take part in it. They surely have different thoughts and feelings and you must write the same scene according to these differences. Is it hard? It very well might be, at first.
Let’s see, there are several ways to accomplish this. Even in real life, you can train this ability with and on other people who cross your way. Try to understand and perceive conflict, disagreements or debates from several of the different perspectives. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who might disagree with you. Why? What’s his or her point of view? Try to understand, empathize with that person and his or her ideas and you’ll realize that you can truly start to understand what he or she is thinking.
Besides, you can’t flood your readers with extensive and exhaustive descriptions, you need to be a bit more subtle and the best way to learn how to achieve this is by actually observing other people and their behavior. People don’t usually lend themselves to be read very easily. You actually need to read in between the lines and realize what they are really thinking to start figuring out who they really are. And, in the end, what helps you get to know that? What was the sign that elucidated you? Keep at it and you will soon find out what stands out.
That’s the one thing you need, to find that something that’ll help you read people, better see a story from different angles and be able to make and write more interesting and realistic characters.