There’s been much discussion on how writers delve into characters whose experiences are different from their own. By this I mean less creating new races for your science fiction novel, and more exploring other cultures that exist in the real world. Unless your story has a small, isolated cast, it will require some diversity, and it’s important to think about how you represent those other people. You want to be authentic, to avoid cliche.
Which begs the question, who are people, really? What makes your characters feel true to life, regardless of race, sex, religion, etc? And how can you be true to them as people while still making them fresh and surprising?
The following TED Talk takes a wonderful look at identity, and being true to yourself and your desires, even when those might go against cultural assumptions. I hope it provides some inspiration on the creative front as well.