I have been working solidly on the character development for a new fantasy fiction story I have been working on. I have recently scrapped several attempts at a different story because I found my characters to be far too unrealistic. I thought I would share with you some of the things I have been doing lately to create realistic, likeable characters.
1) Write a brief description of each character. I ran a google search to find a worksheet that had dot points I could just fill in. One comprehensive profile I really liked can be found here: anneolwin.com Another lengthy profile outline I liked was from here: the-writers-craft.com.
2) Get to know your character. I imagine I am having a conversation with the character. I like to visualise how they may be standing, any quirks and mannerisms, tone of voice, accent etc. It makes me feel a bit like a talk show host, and I really enjoy this part of the process. It may seem like I am talking to myself, but I know better.
3) Talk about the character with someone if you can. I find this helps me pick up holes in the story. My boyfriend is pretty quick to tell me if he doesn't like a character and why. He also makes suggestions for how he thinks a character would act in a given situation. This is great because it helps me see my character in another light.
4) Create a photo chart so you can visualise what they look like. I google things like: 'Male brunette with blue eyes'. I find a photo of someone who matches the idea I have in my head. This is a good reference point for later when your brain is foggy and you can't remember what your hero looks like.
5) Write a short story centering around the character. This can be some back story, a childhood story or anything else you can think of. This makes the character seem so much more real, and you already have a good grasp of how they speak and act before you start writing your novel. For my own part I am currently writing a prequel to the series that I want to write. My main characters are in childhood, and it explains how their personalities are developed. I do not plan on anyone ever reading this prequel.
These are just a small selection of what you can do to create the best characters you possible can. I would love to hear any other suggestions you may have. Happy writing!