You Can’t Have Five Characters All Be the Same. Sorry.
I have a problem. All my commanding officers seem to be the same. The squad leader and the company commander, I realized, act almost the exact same way. They have this firm but genuine air. They don’t let people get away with things, but they care. They even look the same! Tall, thin, light hair. Hmm. This could be a problem.
Especially in basic training. I know my military isn’t as tough as our real military, but still, I think it needs to be tougher. For a little while, I was daunted. That almost gentle kind of CO seemed to be the only kind I knew how to write. But then, I remembered the drill sergeant from an earlier draft. Ta da! So, I resurrected him, and I’m really pleased. The problem I have now is keeping gruff drill sergeant different from unreasonably harsh disciplinarian commander.
Here’s an idea! Try putting a completely different character into a scene you already and see what happens. What happens if you add a tough drill sergeant in place of an encouraging mentor? What happens if the rowdy class clown is replaced by a mime or the meek accountant vanishes while a rough and tough cowboy appears?