One of the most interesting things I've learned is about character. Even though my main character is a forty-year old man, I didn't think too much about finding his character "voice" or "type". I did that on purpose, and instead basically wrote him in my own voice, as natural as I could be. So yeah, I basically wrote myself as a forty-year old man. Sort of. Anyway.
I did, however, think through the "voice" and "type" of many of the secondary characters. I based them off a very character-y image I had in my mind. Crazy lady type, clumsy soldier type, slimy skinny villain type. Some of them paid off, and were fun to write. However, the consensus from the feedback so far is that my MC is much more developed and round as a character than the others. Not just that (I mean, he needs to be more developed obviously, since he's the MC) but some of the others are falling a bit flat. That's not so okay, and we're working on fixing it.
Maybe this should be obvious, but its a revelation to me. I mean, nobody is more developed and rounded than a real person, and we don't know anyone better than we know ourselves, so characters where we go the natural route and basically put ourselves on the page are clearly going to be more human than when we don't. The dilemma, though, is how to make round and developed characters out of the ones who are nothing like us. Yeah, I'm not a forty year old man but I might be able to relate to one, whereas I really don't know what to do with the slimy, sleezy, malicious villain type. So what do I do if I want a slimy, sleezy villain?
I think the problem starts with thinking of characters as "types". We need to think of each character as an individual, and if this guy happens to be slimy, sleezy, and malicious then that's what he is. But he's also geeky and desperate and lonely and ambitious and just trying to get where he wants to go, and that I can definitely relate to. When we try and write "types" then the characters end up turning out like bad versions of characters people have seen many times before. And we don't want that.
So just be yourself. Be your shy, quirky, girly self for one character and your snarky, bitter, witty self for another. Every character comes from you. They turn out better when you let them.
Anyone else experienced this before? What characters are easiest for you, and which are the hardest?