Today I taught 15 middle school students about creating characters for a short story. One way to develop a character is to write about yourself. They physically described themselves, wrote about their personalities, skills, favorite foods, etc.
Then we got to the juicy part. What did they fear and what did they love more than anything.
Not fitting in/ baseball
Getting sick again/playing outside
Then they created their fictional characters and wrote from where their characters’ fears and love collided. Their stories were quite creative. Like a cellist saving his instrument from a fire, or a baseball player not making the same team as all his friends. Or a video gamer who is afraid of the dark gets sucked into his game and a black hole.
Describing what they love becomes easier since they have experience with it and creates an emotional connection. Next, the setting can depend on what the character likes to do. If someone is a surfer, then it makes sense to have them live by the beach.
There can be more than one fear or one love. Just as there are subplots and multiple main characters. Doing the work and developing the character first creates the groundwork for a finished story.
Then the fireworks of inspiration can begin!