Here’s what currently works for me:
- Background. I write a few paragraphs that cover the important things that happened in their life before they enter my book.
- Current situation. The things they are dealing with here and now.
- Values and beliefs. Does she think you have to grab life with both hands? Do he feel his reward is in heaven and on the earth there is only toil?
- Important people in their life. Friends, relatives, a cat, no one? I also make some notes of how they get along or don’t get along with other characters.
- Myers-Briggs type and how it might influence them. For example, an "INFJ radiates sympathy and fellowship and is persevering, conscientious, and orderly even in small matters. Sees value in others opinions, values harmony to the point of losing their own opinion. Find it hard to admit the truth about problems with people or things they care about. See the goal so clearly they fail to look for other things that might conflict with goal. May not be forthright with criticism." Just looking at those traits helps me see possible plot points. You can find out more about types here, and then once you know your character’s type, you can just search for it on Google. I am an ENFJ who used to be an ENTJ. I’m glad I changed when I became a parent, because the one-word phrase used to describe ENTJ is "commandant."
What are you favorite ways of thinking about characters and getting to know them?