Every story has at least one character, otherwise there would not be a story because there would be nothing that you could relate to, gain some insight in how to resolve issues portrayed in the story, or to get a few thrills. Oddly what draws a reader into a story are the same reasons why people take interest in real life events and other people. What is a character in its truest sense? A character is a fictional person that is a believable member of society, and must be treated that way in order for you and your audience to acknowledge his or her existence. In order to know the character well enough to craft a sensible story, you must know him or her externally, learn more about him or her based on what you envision him or her doing, and pretend you are the character in order to rationalize the causes of his or her current behavior and appearance. There is a worksheet attached to the back that you should fill out to keep track of the details of your character.
The first questions about a character should be the same questions you wonder about people you do not know, except for one that needs to be asked for any character: why does he or she exist? Is it to send a message, fill in gaps in your fictional society, or to fulfill a fantasy that was floating around in your head? Whatever the reason is, be truthful when you write your character's purpose because failing to do so will result in a horrible self-insert or cardboard cutout. Now that you gave your character a purpose, give him or her a name. As long as you have a name for your character, it will ensure that you know him or her on a personal basis. The location the character currently is and where he or she was raised is important to keep in mind, even though it may seem to you that place adds nothing when making a character. Considering the places the character has been, determine the character's appearance, age, gender, and species. Either write down a short description of how he or she looks or draw the character. How does his or her outward appearance contribute to his or her purpose, you ask? The appearance of a person tells loads about him or her, which is where we will be working on next.
After you get your first impression about your character, delve into his or her mind a little deeper. Think about what abilities or talents your character might pick up due to the purpose you gave him or her and the setting he or she resides. For instance, giving a person the ability to banish vampires serves no purpose in a tale where there are no vampires. Next, imagine the first few words and actions that you can see the character doing. The first impression you get from your character should be the first bit of words you write down about how a stranger will feel about your character, as this is how your audience will see him or her. From these actions, you can also draw conclusions about your character's morals. In the instance of a sentient man-eating being that picks up whoever he or she feels like eating, does this person put his or her needs above others greatly just because he or she can eat people? Write down your inference. With your information on him or her as an outsider, it is now time to step into your character's shoes and flesh him or her out as a full-fledged being.
In the final stage of making your character, it is imperative you thoroughly know your character. Every person is an individual, and your character is not exempt from that. Look back at the talents and abilities you gave your character and think about how your character feels about using his or her talents and abilities in relation to personality. To illustrate this further, a math geek might be good at math because he or she finds it fun. The basics of social interactions do not change when shifting locations. Knowing social dynamics is a valuable aid when making your character's past believable, which influences the character's personality and values. A brutal example of this in reality is the fact a child raised in an abusive family is more likely to be an abusive parent. If you are unsure of how a certain situation in your head would work out, research at least one real life incident related to your fictional scenario and obtain the information you need. The final ingredient to make the character a true being is to imbue him or her with strengths and weaknesses. I saved this step for last because writing down the strengths and weaknesses early on will tempt you to craft your character around these two, forcing them to be a caricature of the being he or she can truly be. The other reason I left this step for last is because now you have obtained enough information about your character to see their strengths and weaknesses. Giving a character no strengths and all weaknesses and vice versa will only show the audience your fantasies.
When you follow all of the procedures, the result is a being that is almost real, no matter what story genre you place your creation. If you think your character is still unrealistic, be sure to remember what you think makes him or her unrealistic and discuss these issues with anyone interested in helping you. You might have to go through the creation steps again, but if a captivating character is what you are aiming for, the blood, sweat, and tears you shed will be well worth it.