Actually, your self can be an excellent resource for creating characters that are apparently entirely unlike you.
Begin Condensed Pitch:
For a long time, I lived as a hypocritical Christian. When I came to Christ in truth, and I desired to write God-honoring fiction, I drew inspiration from my past life, my doubts and weaknesses, and from my sin struggles to create my characters. I’ll list two to keep this list short and kosher:
1) I have always struggled with pride and always trying to clean myself up, do things my way, and reap glory for myself – desiring to do things the hard way not because they were right but because I wanted to be recognized for my skill and merit independent of other people. Even now I hold myself to a standard I rarely meet and my attempts to reach it are often more pathetic than heroic whenever I fail to call upon God to guide my actions. From this failed perfectionism and selfish noble-mindedness sprang my character Erhard, the noble squire whose blind pursuit of glory and honor lead him into abhorrent and disgusting deeds that he later comes to regret after a life of suffering and hardship, some of it borne by him, much of it by those he loves. In the process, he learns that true honor does not come from praises to one’s name, but from living and acting in and from grace. (Or something like that, I’m condensing a lot.)
2) I am by nature a passive and loyal individual, yet I am also continually resentful of authority. I do genuinely desire to help others, yet I also resent the burden which that places on me – in addition to the mandatory burdens of being under authority (in contrast to what we are taught by Paul, to be joyful and obedient to bad masters as well as good ones.) I find myself harboring unkind thoughts and desires even when I know that I love this person. From this double-minded loyal resentfulness came the character Myrrha – a sorceress apprentice who both loves and hates her distant mistress, Minerva. She pursues an ideal of total liberty, and finds in her quest that such freedom is not possible without sacrificing all the ties which really matter; family, friendships, love and affection – all things that really matter in life require the sacrifice of some measure of liberty, and she has to figure out how she is going to define herself – by her liberties or by her duties.
The common trend here is that I model my characters after an ideal that they pursue, and how their attempts to reach that ideal fail and the answers that they receive from their quest.
I hope that this has been helpful. It’s been a struggle to write coherently today. 😛
Non nobis Domine, sed nomini, Tuo da gloriam.