my characters are real people so for me I don't have to create them because I used someone who has touched my heart and soul and used them as the characters in my story.
For me to make my characters believable, they have to have a life the reader doesn't even know about. All of my characters have back-stories I have created for my own point of reference so I can understand their personality. Once the character has a distinct personality in my own mind and I can see them as a real entity, it makes it easier for me to describe their actions and motives.
I believe that, to make a character believable, they have to have some foundation within the writer's experience.
For instance, I base them on someone that I know. I keep character charts and list height, weight, eye and hair color, skin color, how they like to dress. I think about them and develop them in my mind.
I have a good friend that indulges me, and I discuss the characters with him. We talk as if my creation is actually alive, and therefore, they become alive to me.
We discuss things like: would she do this? How would she react to this? It's quite fun, actually.
A character should not be one dimensional. If they are a weak character, they should at least have some strength. If they're strong, they should be vulnerable in some way. But I think the most important element to creating believable characters is consistency, both in their mannerisms, actions, personal quirks, and dialogue.
For a character to be believable they have to not be perfect. They need to struggle with stuff I struggle with or at least someone I know struggles with. They need to talk like people do. (except I only use clean language)
My husband has many interesting sayings and phrases. I sprinkle some of those throughout my books along with stuff my dad and other aquaintances say that strikes me.
Any character can be believable if she/he is placed in the proper genre. Creating characters is probably the most challenging aspect of writing for me. I get an initial idea, but if I don't fall in love with them, or they don't have chemistry, then I will drop them and move on. When I have a story, I just pick a name I like, give her/him a description, a background and a setting then start writing. Usually my characters spring to life and take the reins. So in essence, I am the puppet maker, but once the character has what she/he needs, they take over and I follow them.
I'd say it depends on the character. I think for writers, believable characters depends upon having a firm grasp on the fabric of the story itself. Aspects like personality, appearance don't have to be thrown at the reader in an in-your-face manner but interwoven with events. How do they react to events in the story? Why do they react in that certain way? It all has to make sense and be presented with some degree of sincerity - for lack of a better word.
I don't usually set out to "create" my characters. I generally get flashes of ideas for a story... and you see, there are people in it - or at least the main "voice" of the story. Generally, characters make an appearance in a story and if they stick around, they evolve with it. From time to time, I might have to do a simple character profile - or scour through images to get a better grasp on the sense of a person I have in mind - but that's it really.
First thing, except if he's an alien or something, make him human. Don't give him or her blue hair or green feet. (That tip was just for beginning writers who were wondering if they should make their main characters "interesting".) If you want the character to be believable, don't make him a superhero or anything like that either. Also, make him have real emotions and excitement(and don't forget realistic movement.) Don't have someone look inside their safe and se that their secret file is missing, and be like...ok, here I'll give you a story example.
Barney walked into the room. He walked to the safe. He flicked the switches, and did the codes, and blah blah blah, etc., etc. He opened the safe door... and saw... NOTHING!
Barney cried out, "Oh dear. My file is missing along with all my money." He stared into the safe. **(Why would he just stare into the safe without freaking out?)** "I'd better go call the police." **(DUH!!!)**
I try to put myself in my characters 'shoes'. I think things through and I try to remember conversations that I have with others and how things were expressed. I love arguments because I create intense scenes and dialogues that bring you into the story. Lets you feel like you are right there.
I have an imagine in my mind of what a character should look like. Sometimes I'll picture a friend or relative and take it from there. Sometimes it's a movie star. I write the name of the person I'm describing and the name of the character in the book. At times I've described the character and included a well-known star's name to assist the reader. For example, I described an individual in my last book and stated, "the likeness was uncanny, it could have been Ed Asner seated behind the desk".
The reader must believe the character is real. Since I write non-fiction, my characters actually lived, which makes them, by definition, real. The writer's responsibility is to make even a character that had lived or is alive seem like one about which compels the reader to want to know more.
I try to base my characters on my own life and experiences. There is a lot of me in most of them but I believe that an author needs to do one of two things to be successful. He has to either write about what he knows absolutely or write about something that nobody else can dispute, like life-after-death or Klingon Psychology.
Complexity. A character must be flawed to appear authentic.
What do they contribute in the story? Do they help or hinder the main character?
In the book, "The Muslim empire and the land of gold", the man who found the gold fields, Ophir, is known by name only in the Bible so I needed to show his background story and how he discovered these vast fields.
Dialogue is key!!! You have to actually read what you have written OUT LOUD to see how dialogue sounds. Sometimes things that look just fine on screen or in print sound ridiculous out loud, which is something you should know in case your novel gets optioned for film (haha). The biggest ‘mistakes’ I see writers of all levels making are over-writing (for instance, saying “my egregious error” instead of “my stupid mistake”), and trying to be utterly, painfully ‘correct’ at every grammatical turn. Yes, we all know that you aren’t supposed to end a sentence with a preposition—but that’s how we talk. Nobody says, “About what is that book you’re reading?” It’s, “What’s that book about?”