CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, OR HOW TO MAKE THEM REAL
Gloria Gawron asked me to write a post on character development, and it's about bloody time I did. The last time I wrote about that was in 2013, on non-perfect characters versus perfect stereotypes, and on how pink tutus rule (don't ask why). Well then, I present to you my newly minted wisdom (hey, it's been 3 years, and I learned a shitload since then, so shush, I'm terribly wise).
The only thing you need to accomplish in your book is to make your characters come across as real people. Sounds easy, right? Then why is it so hard to do? Because we tend to forget that there are layers to our humanity. It's easy to write the first thing that comes to mind without trying to put yourself into your character's shoes. And even if we think we do that, we simply don't know them well enough to have them come across as people made of flesh and blood, people with personal histories, fears, beliefs, behavior quirks, and so on. Keeping that in mind, you can relax and accept the fact that your first draft characters will be flat. That's where the rewrites come in.
There is, however, a technique I use when writing my characters that lets me get them as close to what I want them to be in the finished book as possible.
Think of your characters as onions. They have layers to peel, and peeling them will make you cry. But your tears will be paid off. The longer you'll work on a character, the more layers you'll be able to create/discover. Think real people. When you meet someone for the first time, you don't immediately find out all their secrets, do you? It takes time.
I use four "onion" layers as my character development structure, writing them out before I start writing the first draft.
1ST LAYER: LOOK