Creating authentic, compelling characters is a vital aspect of creating amazing fiction. The tips in this book should be useful to anyone who writes novels, short stories, or any other form of fiction.
Characters are definitely the most important aspect of any story, for me. Of course, other aspects, such as plot and setting, are also important, but characters are, in my opinion, the heart of fiction.
I tend to approach the development of my fictional people intuitively, and my characters feel like real people already, even when I don't know much about them. I aim to learn more about them, as I go. That's how the process works in real life, after all.
I don't find it beneficial to complete generic character profiles, for the sake of it. To me, this encourages writers to make things up, simply to fill in the boxes - or else, to list, often quite basic and superficial, information, the vast majority of which they know already, such as their main characters' names, ages, and hair colours. If I must write down that my protagonist, Lucy, has red hair, in order to remember something that obvious – to me, that would be worrying.
So, what does help your readers to believe in your characters, and start relating to them as real people? Because, after all, it's this level of connection that will make readers care about them – and want to invest their time in reading about them.
Backstory is one vital aspect of creating living, breathing characters. Everyone has a history, including our fictional characters. Consider all aspects of this story – first for major, and then more minor, characters. Think about it, without necessarily writing anything down – at least, initially. If someone is starting to confide in you, but realises that you've been taking notes on them, the whole time, they're going to become more reluctant to open up. Why should characters be any different, in this respect? If you relax, and allow yourself to drift into a kind of daydream, but one which you've entered with specific questions in mind, you're likely to make more progress.