5 Ways to Make A Character Different From You

I know I've fallen into the trap of making a character (or two) a carbon copy of myself.  There are multiple downsides to this, so here are a few helpful techniques I use to pull myself out of it when planning a character arc doesn't "cut it".

1. Find the character's voice.

I mean find his actual voice.  Pick an actor/random person who sounds like him and whenever you write from the character's POV, "listen" to actor/random person say what you write.  It helps, trust me.

2. Know your character.

I know, this is a pretty boring tip that's pretty typical in a post like this.  I get it.  But it does help.  If anything, it's a stepping stone to the next tip.

3. When you write, "get into character".

People who act will know what this means.  If you aren't an actor, it means to get into the mindset of the character.  Become him, in a sense.  My acting teacher once told me that when I'm acting, 90% of my brain should be character's brain, and the other 10% should be my "actor brain" (or writer brain, in this case).  When you write, you want to become the POV character.  The previous 3 tips should help with this.

4. Myers-Briggs Personality typing.

This can actually be a huge help.  Simply looking at the different personality types and deciding which one you want the character to be can help separate him from you.  One pretty helpful thing is that it can help you decide what the character would do if in  ________ situation.

5. Make the character be opposite your gender.

For some strange reason, I like writing from a guy's POV better than a girl's POV.  I think it's because it creates distance between the character and myself.  I put this as the last tip because it isn't always possible.  I mean, who would want to read a book with no girls?

What do you do to prevent your characters from being copies of you?  I would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. K. M. Weiland says to give a character a lie, which I think might help make them different. After all, if they believe something you don't, that will make them separate from you.
    In some ways, I think making a character like yourself can be okay, if you don't do it in every book. However, it can lead to boring characters or lead to the author being too easy on them.
    I found out while RPing how dangerous making a character like myself can be. I realized that the more unique I make characters, the more fun they are to play, because I don't think about what I'd do in a situation. In both writing and role plays, this is important because you're interacting with other people and you want to add conflict, while our natural tendency is to make things better. Granted, I think RPs offer a bit more diversity, because if you play a bad guy in an RP, it makes it more fun for the other players. Have your MC in a book be a bad guy and no one will relate.
    One trick I've found for making characters interesting is to take an element of my personality, current or something I had in the past, and stuff it in a character. When I wrote one book, I had trouble becoming close to anyone who didn't share my politics, so when I wrote Rolf, I gave him this trait, but up to eleven. His granddad fought for the Germans in WWII, and Rolf would shun anyone who didn't believe Granddad was a hero. As expected, he didn't have many friends.

    1. I definitely agree that the character can be a little like yourself, but you want to make them all different from each other. Also, writing a character like yourself can make the manuscript more personal.

      Those are some awesome tips! The closest thing I've done to an RP is a character chat.

    2. The RPs I do are somewhat close to character chat, but with a tad more pre-planned plot, or at least we try to have a plot, even if it isn't pre-planned.

  2. Great thoughts, Alea! I especially like the idea of picking a personality out for your character that is already spelled out in detail...like the Myers-Briggs Personalities. I think that would help to create a character that is more easy to relate to. =) One way that I've seen some authors give their characters personalities is when they have one particular aspect that stands out...like fiery-red hair or a constant habit like pushing the glasses up on the bridge of his/her nose. I think it helps, but I'm not exactly sure how I can incorporate it in my own WIP. Have you ever experimented with that?


    1. I love Myers-Briggs. :)

      I haven't tried that method, but I think it's a great idea...if it isn't cliche. Fiery red hair is a bit overdone. But quirks are always great things to give your character!

  3. Loved hearing your thoughts on this, Alea! It was great post. For me, it helps to choose a picture of someone that looks like my main character. Plus, picking a picture for each of my characters is just fun to do :D.

    ~ Savannah

    1. That doesn't help me quite as much as figuring out the character's voice, but I till like to do it. :) It gives me a legitimate reason for scrolling through Pinterest. ;)

  4. Great post, Alea! I try to use tip #3 "get into character" often. I try to base each character off of a different piece of me, so to speak, so that each one is different and yet I'm still able to get inside their mindset and think/talk like them. :)


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