Imagine a common situation. Maybe even one you’ve faced yourself today. It can be anything, from getting a parking ticket, to arguing with a friend, to hearing a favorite song. Now, ask yourself “What would my character do?”
It’s fascinating to see how their reactions are different from (or similar to) your own, and you’ll get some real insights into their personalities. Try doing the exercise for multiple characters. It will also start to highlight some subtle (or not so subtle) differences among your story's cast.
Let’s take the parking ticket example. Here’s how some of my MCs would react…
Crysta: Um, perhaps you didn’t know, but I am Crysta din Aelwynn. I do not deign to receive parking tickets. Please be gone. *silently fears the parking ticket is a sign that she will not be able to call on the power she needs to save her people*
Raiyn: Oh, thank God – just a parking ticket. Guess that means they didn’t witness the umpteen other ways I’ve gleefully entertained society today in a less-than-legal manner. See, Connor, there’s nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.
Connor: A ticket!?! I have become lax in my training and discipline. I must immediately return to a roads course and challenge other drivers until I’m sure I can protect the kingdom—er, I mean park correctly.
Mal: There are rules, Eryn. See, I told you. Even when we’re fighting for everything good in the world, sometimes rules and honor are all that keep us from crossing the line into evi—
Eryn: *snatches ticket from Mal and tears it up with an exasperated stomp* It’s just a stupid parking ticket, Mal. Rules are meant to be broken.