When writing, it is almost too easy to write yourself into the main character. One of the biggest learning curves for me as I pushed my writing into a more professional standard was getting out of this habit. We all want to be the hero! But more often than not, the most believable character in a setting is going to be someone you’ve never met before. However, many of these characters will have facets of your personality, or the personality of someone you know/ admire, within them. As an example, an older, female character from my BA dissertation was heavily influenced by both of my Nannas – a nurturing, bustling woman who ended up taking in orphans during the apocalypse.
Regarding characterisation, a young girl has no place in the fields of an ancient war, nor does a young man sit amongst the Victorian noblewomen to embroider. A lot of times, you have to go out and research your characters before you put them into the world you’re creating, and that can be helpful later on. Especially if you’re writing within a historical setting, accuracy is the key to a successful, believable character.
If you can create that character from the ground up, with a biography or notes, and know everything about that character, you are much more able to flesh out whichever situation that character finds themselves in. Realism comes from research! Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, a believable character is one you know and know well, so that you’re able to introduce them properly to your readers.
So, my biggest piece of advice for anyone getting into writing is this:
Don’t put yourself into your story, make a whole new person, learn about them, love them, then share them!