I think that a character has to have faults. Not just bad habits, but something about him or her personality that goes against the stereotype. Heroes should have something about them that the reader's not going to like, some kind of frailty that makes him less than perfect. Villains should have some quality that a reader will just adore. In real life, every one of my friends does some crazy thing that just drives me up the wall sometimes. And everybody I want to hate has some redeeming quality that disallows me from completely brushing them off, and that drives me equally as mad. I think a good character should keep us guessing.
I write about stuff that really does happen to us! Sometimes I draw upon a little literary license , but for the most part , my stories are true. I try to take a bad day or a common occurence and make it hilarious. Its not too hard. You just have to learn to laugh at yourself. ( That helps to keep you from crying),
I do not stray far from what I know. I believe in myself.
One of the best things you can do for a character to make them not only believable but also relatable for the audience is to make them imperfect. Give them flaws. Have events or other characters frighten them, or confuse them, or piss them off. Show this behavior, let it become a part of the character's persona, and they'll come across more as a living breathing being than a representation of some ephemeral idea or, worse, an avatar for the author.
Honesty,to a large extent and even if its fictitious,it should have life like structure and image which can easily fly through anyone imagination.Most of my stories and character's are my own life and those who are associated with me, through my life.
Effective characterization is critical to a successful novel and it's one of the most difficult techniques to master. Personally, I spend more time on this aspect of my writing than any other.
I did write an article on this subject which you can find at http://bit.ly/cM15kB. It may help.
As to how I create my characters, by happenstance, I published an article about that subject matter this very morning. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/90A3kV
Good dialog is essential. A character must have distinct, consistent voice. I create my characters by listening.
they must have good and bad qualtities intermixed to be human, be flawed in some way, and yet have redeeming traits as well
to make a character believable it has to be able to relate to everyone on the face of the planet in someway shape or form.My Character Peter Carrot-top could relate to most anyone, as being the child that is different and the ones who stands up for the underdog.
to understand their motivation
Honesty. Realness. Believability. I think the most difficult genre to write in must be science fiction. Not because of the lack of imagination, but in translating that imagination into reality, into a believable interaction with the reader.
A weakness. If they have no weaknesses, they you can't relate to them. They also need a set of moral code they follow. Obviously if they are the villian, their moral code won't be what the hero's would be, but they need some sort of morals or guidelines for life that they follow.
The morals my characters have takes shape as the story does. When situations arise, I have to ask myself, 'how would you expect this person to handle this situation in relation to their personality and morals?'. It is an evolving process throughout the entire story, but the foundation is started in the beginning. Plus part of the pleasure of writing is to 'meet' the characters as they evolve...I get to know them as I write, there personality and morals aren't set in stone from the beginning.
I map my character out very well. From the hair color, their occupation, the pants they wear to the things they say (i.e. are they going to be a classy character or very urban- like).
An ability to understand and forgive humanity is essential in any author. Some of the best authors write themselves over and over again, and at once condemn and forgive themselves. Some of our most revered and favorite authors - Kurt Vonnegut, Henry David Thoreau, Ernest Hemmingway, J.D. Salinger...
I think there's inevitably going to be ego and self-referential characters in any work of fiction, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Whether your avatar is the hero or a cameo, it doesn't matter. I think you have to have something genuine, genuine growth, genuine pain, something real. It can be muted by fiction, by different characters or context, but there's something real that has to be sewn into the story. That's what makes writing an art, and that's what makes characters believable.
A believable character is a character that readers can relate to in some way. I take aspects of my friends and put them in my characters; it gives them more depth. Human like and not fictional.