In order to understand (the man or woman) we need to go back to an earlier (period/day/era)
I don't really have the money to get an MFA in writing. But I know one way to improve my writing, read great authors, and those that influenced great writers. Sherwood Anderson influenced Henry Miller, and now I know why! I have taken some writing notes on Sherwood's techniques that I hope you will find helpful. I am not looking for a formula, but understanding the frame of the craft allows the writer to express his/her thoughts well.
Root the Character to the American Spirit: By the standards of the day
True to the traditions
"He was a man born out of his time and place and for this he suffered and made others suffer."
Everyone retired into the background.
He could master others but he could not master himself.
Show desires, what moves the person, motivations
did not intend (Specific Evil) Show that the man is acting naturally and that naturally this is what comes about.
How does the Character see the times?
When you take the character to the wall pan out and give a panorama of the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.
Describe the setting of the Character.
Show motivations through a glimpse into private prayers said with the doors closed, and the lights turned low! One can also do this by revealing the words said in a conversation, words twittered, emails, letters etc.