Getting inside your character's head.
It's hard to have a good story without good character development. There are many ways of going about this. You have the standard "100 questions", the "figure him out as you write" and the "talking in the mirror" method. The list goes on.
Just last year I discovered my favorite method for understanding how my characters think and act and more importantly, why they do what they do.
I'm sure most of you have heard of it. It is known simply as the Myers Briggs Personality Test. (take it here)
What it is, for those who don't know, is a list of 72 yes/no questions about things relating to personal preferences.
For example: "You often prefer to read a book than go to a party: yes or no."
Unlike many other personality tests, this one is based on scientific fact. It doesn't put you in a box, or label you in any way. It merely explains how you see the world. And let me tell ya, it's ACCURATE.
According to the test, my personality type is INFP.
This means I am:
...more Introverted than Extraverted,..
...more iNtuitive than Sensing...
...more Feeling than Thinking...
...and more Perceiving than Judging...
Now, how does this help with character development?
Each personality type (all are listed above) have their own facts and traits that are CONSISTENT with that type.
Here are a few examples of the facts:
As a certified INFP, I can honestly say that these are accurate. You can find facts like this for each type, as well as other information like strengths and weakness of character in each type.
This is especially helpful when you have a large cast of characters. Having a cataloged personalty type with quirks and traits for each one will help keep you from ending up with cookie-cutter characters that all look and sound the same. It will also help keep your character from acting out of character.
And don't get frustrated if your character doesn't seem to fit in any single type. My character, Talcon, actually has tendencies of TWO different types. He is more dominantly INTJ, but he often displays traits of an INFJ. This simply means that he views the world more broadly and completely than a character with just ONE personality type. As it turns out, the fact that he doesn't have just one personality type fits perfectly with the type of character that he is. He's not someone who is easily cornered. He's open, flexible, but wise and sincere.
As you can see, even NOT matching a single personality type can help you learn so much about your characters.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. In my opinion, you'll find out more about your characters than any "100 question" list. You might even find out a little about yourself in the process.