Avoid the usual stereotypes
- the doubtful Catholic priest
- the tortured main character
- the virgin heroine
- the disbelieving police chief
- the good/bad twin
Give your characters quirks
- did he have an affair
- use colloquialisms in speech
- did they (she/he) give a baby up for adoption?
- had a divorce
- got married
- sings off-key in the shower
- first car
- first love
- first kiss
- favorite food
- childhood pets
- what is your character passionate about? – politics, romance, the ocean, global warming, etc
- 5 most wonderful moments of his life
- 5 most painful moments of her life
The character is what you do when no one is watching.
How do you feel when someone disappoints you?
What scares you? What are you the most afraid of?
What would you do in this situation?
Read the obituaries. Real people have interesting histories.
Real characters have weaknesses and make mistakes. But if your character is going to do something stupid, give him a good reason for doing it!
Read a telephone book.