To know yourself, look at your behaviors. Observe your choices. How do you spend your time? Your choices tell you and others, who you really are inside. This goes ditto for your characters. A character – based on his or her actions – tells all to the reader. Kick a puppy and your character is condemned. Save a puppy from becoming road kill and you’ve made thousands of best friends for your character.
It’s the little things that count – those small actions that can make or break your character. A young kid visiting a grave everyday after school has my vote. But a drunken teen desecrating a grave gets the thumbs down. But wait. What if that kid visiting the grave is riddled with guilt because he believes it’s his fault his mom is dead? And, what if the drunken girl was molested by the person buried there? Both choices can change the reader’s point of view rather quickly.
It’s when you pierce the armor of your character that you find the true grit. Test your character’s mettle and see where it leads. You might be surprised to find out that who you thought was a villain was – like Humpty Dumpty – so broken inside he/she couldn’t be put back together again. Then again, duct tape works wonders!