I let them develop themselves. Take Twera for example. In the first chapter of Hope in the Strangest Places, she comes off as a rude (*ahem*) tailhole. Later in the story, it will be revealed that it's all an act. She was actually scared and lonely, putting on a Храбрая сердцем front for the much larger dragons. Characters like Twera just seem to take control of their own stories.
Of course, I never reveal too much backstory right off the bat. Takes all the fun out of the book. *wink wink*