How much of ourselves do we put into our characters? Perhaps a better question is how much should be put in and are we capable of limiting it when needed? Our characters obviously have pieces of us, the writers, inside them. We did create them after all. But do they not all have their own personalities? Don't they have views and opinions that differ from one another?
If that is the case then they can only be partially us. But once you have removed your own personality, at least in part, from the character how do you inject the rest? What do you do when a character has a point of view that is different from your own? Or worse what if they support something you desperately oppose in your own life? Do you kill them off making them the villain of the piece in order to preserve your perspective or do you allow these contrary views to win out because it is simply a piece of fiction?
How do you write a personality traits that do not fit your behavior? I have characters in one of my current stories that are all different in the way they behave, what they believe and even the situations that led them to where they all are now. I can relate to some of them but I find other members of the book baffling. I have had to research a few of their issues. I have talked to people battling their ailments but it is the internal parts they deal with I find the most fascinating.
My characters become truly real to me and I feel what they feel. It is in a small way like being possessed by them. I know their thoughts I can see the entire story play out like a movie in my head while my own soul is moved from character to character. I experience them, their life and loss I become them. I have found that when I am truly open I can almost feel what they feel even when it is not something I have experienced.
While I know it is not actually possible that I have memories of things I have never experienced nor can I feel things on behalf of another that I have never had, I do feel as though these characters live within me. I am them and they in turn help me see as they do. The question is am I putting myself into them or allowing them to alter me when the time comes?