Flaws, flaws, flaws. No one can relate to Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. And everyone hates the person who thinks that they are.
They have to stimulate all five of my senses. I have to really know who they are. I use a rather detailed character chart so that I can know them down to the smallest detail.
I once had great difficulty getting close to one of my characters so I had him write me a letter. It was fifteen pages long. It started, "Dear Audrey, My name is David Schlessel..." and went on from there.
I think they have to be someone the reader can identify with. They have to be flawed either emotionally or physically in order that they can change and evolve over the course of the novel. The detective in a mystery or the hero in a romance novel has to be strong in his ideals and values. He also needs to be intelligent, and a good people reader. If the heroine is a little naive he's the one who sees through everyone else's lies.
I start off by giving my characters an inner conflict, something that will make the hero into a better person through his relationship with the heroine. For example, he might be wary of committment because his former fiancee died. I give them a goal that will spur them into action. In Ring of Lies, Grace Elliott's goal is to discover her late husband's true identity.
I think for a character to be believable, you have to have some sort of connection with them. Whether you use situations from your own past as a basis and add to it, or situations/people you've learned from. I sometimes take people I've learned from, whether good or bad, and build stories around them using particular situations that I feel need to be addressed.
I typically let my characters develop themselves according to what they do, what they think, how they interact and what motives surface or incentives excite them. If the characters don't interact believably none will be believable individually. I only try to 'round out' a few of the main characters since I tend to write shorter novels. In short pieces some characters show up just to make a single point so I don't really want them 'rounded out.'
Once I have set my characters into the setting or dispatched him or her to investigate or solve an issue, I watch them gather their characteristics. Except in rare purposeful situations I require them to be internally consistent. My characters often change from any preconceptions I have because some different side to them becomes necessary to play out the piece in an acceptable and effective manner. I like spontaneously developed characters better than those I try to 'copy' after real people.
Not being a believable character myself, its hard for me to comment!
For a character to be believable you need to give them qualities readers can relate to. You also need to stick to those qualities and traits, and not bend the rules when you feel like it. Consistency is the key.
I create mine with help from the Character Questions section of my site: http://www.bunnyrabbitsex.com/index.php?board=64.0
I also make portfolios so I never forget anything and have somewhere to write down ideas, memories, and other things for each character.
by using subjects creating their real life ordeals and writing about them.
Mystery of Everyman's Way is a unique. All through the last decade, I would get a friend, or family member, would call me up and say how much they hate their job and don't know what to do about it. I wanted my main character to be the same way. I wanted him to be restless, powerless, a modern Everyman, and he gets involved in a situation that overwhelms him. Obstacles. Obstales. Life is filled with obstacles and the main characters should be in the thick of it.
Characters are believable when they are authentic. Find the voice, stay with it. Constantly ask yourself if your character would say or do that. If you feel a slight hesitation, remove it.
I dont write characters
Purpose. I think each character has to have a reason to be in the story, and needs to grow in the book.
I really try to put myself in the characters shoes. I make sure that what they do, how they respond, and why they are doing the things there doing make sense.
What's required is that you, the writer, believe in this person utterly, try to inhabit them as much as possible. If they live in 1840, then you need to steep yourself in that time and place. It really is a matter of thinking as they think and to that extent writing's like acting. You're inhabiting a role.
I have no answer for that. Is Godot a believable character? How about Sam Spade? Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Or Shakespeare's Cordelia?
Most of my work, long and short form, has been set in Scotland, and a lot of it uses the history and folklore. There's just something about the misty landscapes and old buildings that speaks straight to my soul. (Bloody Celts... we get all sentimental at the least wee thing).
But I think it's the people that influence me most. Everybody in Scotland's got stories to tell, and once you get them going, you can't stop them. I love chatting to people, (usually in pubs) and finding out the -weird- shit they've experienced. My Glasgow PI, Derek Adams is mainly based on a bloke I met years ago in a bar in Partick, and quite a few of the characters that turn up and talk too much in my books can be found in real life in bars in Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews.