Great authors say that the best way to start your characters is to break pieces of yourself off and start them with that seed. For a lot of my writing, I do just that. I usually save it for the main character, but there are plenty of side characters or co-main characters that have pieces of me weaved into their DNA.
Not getting into too many messy details, as you know I absolutely could, I want to break down a couple characters to give examples of how to include yourself and the pieces you know the best into your MCs and side kicks. A lot of my characters share a common thread - grief - and the many forms it can come in and the reasons behind them. This steams from the grief in my own life that I have not dealt with, or the parts I have, and this is the only way I feel is right to express them. Through the eyes and stories of others, I've healed more from my characters than I have with time.
Now, this isn't to say you have to build characters like this, and I know all of my characters need work, which is why they're all still in the editing phase (send help) but will hopefully be out of it and turn into fully fleshed individuals.
Rogue Pine - While all my characters are my favorite and it would be unfair to me to choose, though I have a few ideas who would make the cut, Rogue Pine is top five for me. While I give her a lot of grief in her story, the piece of me that she was born from is the innate determination to help the people I love. I needed this character to break down walls to get what she wants and sometimes it's at the expense of the people she cares for.
Her love for the people she's lost clouds her judgement and while I have been fortunate to not lose a lot of people in my life to death I have had to make had decisions about cutting people out of my life, including parents that do not serve anyone but themselves. Rogue has to do this when it is revealed that her mother sacrifices something too dear to her heart to forgive her. Even with the clear manipulation by her uncle, Rogue cannot forgive her dying mother for her sins - another cloud in the way of the vision she sees as pure.
Her mother dies and she doesn't deal with the grief. Instead, she takes the fight to the people that destroyed her life. She seeks ghosts where there are only walls and finds help in broken people like herself. This is very true for myself. I found more solace in people like myself than I have with healthy/well off people. This can create more drama, more heartache, but in Rogue's case, it brought her to the second love of her life and the victory, however bloody, she sought so long for.
Henrietta Blackthorn - My first book baby, who has changed with the rewrite (including her name) and has absorbed much more of me than I wish to confess to. From the very beginning of her story you know that she comes from a very dark past. This part is the only far-off exaggerated part of our connecting lines. Otherwise, the broken parents, the connection and bond with her sister, and the small ring of people she keeps close, those are taken from my past and current life.
While I was not as rebellious - or as smart - as she is in school, I did have issues nearing the end of my primary schooling as she has but for different reasons. If I wrote a story based on my life, there would be a lot of differences between us, and it would be much more boring. No princes, no real witches, nothing fun like that.
The parts of Henri's life that she can't run away from, her PTSD and the way she handles her trauma, by mostly ignoring it, come from how I've handled the things that have happened to me. It is absolutely not the way you should handle things like this, but it's how I did and it's the pieces I planted in her to see how she would grow.
She finds herself trapped within her own trauma a lot, something I've dealt with quietly over the years. She hides it from her sister, making sure that nothing sets her off. Not because she would get mad, but that she saw her sister suffer enough that she doesn't want to keep seeing it. Having to witness a sibling taking the fall or the brunt of the punishments/abuse changes how you deal with things. Henri is no exception. Any time something bad comes up, in any form, she immediately wants to protect her big sister from it. Even if Olivia was the one protecting her growing up, Henri knows that if she doesn't keep her head straight that things might go back to how they were.
An unfortunate part of Henri is that she lets her trauma dictate her actions. It takes people that truly care for her for her to see that her self destructive behavior won't get her where she wants to go, even if she doesn't know where that is yet. I was like this as a teenager. Internally self destructive. I pushed people away, I looked for attention in the wrong places, and I got myself in trouble. I didn't want to give a character these parts of me but having done it, I can see how easy it is to get out of it when you have a good support system. Even if you have to make that support system out of an abused hermit of a sister, a witch best friend with mommy issues, and a prince who's personality died a long time ago.
The best thing about both of these characters is that they overcome their flaws. It takes time, a lot of love for yourself and the ones around you, and a good support system that you can fall back on. I picked Henri and Rogue because I gave them the best and worst parts of me. The ones I dig up daily and tell myself I've overcome them. The guilt and grief I feel for my past, and the trauma that I don't want to relive, but grow from.
Building characters like this shows their human side. Giving them more pieces and building on them, even the flaws, gives them dimensions. After editing, Rogue and Henri will become something greater than I could have imagined when I weaved their first piece of consciousness.
Read their stories and more on Inkitt!