Have you ever anticipated eating something visually appealing, but upon the first taste it had no flavor?
Tasteless or over-seasoned characters can kill a book. A well-seasoned character must flow with realism, grow into a likable or loathsome individual, and have a basis for their actions. Personally, I like to build an attachment to them, root for their successes, or be grief-stricken by their losses.
When I first envision a story, I create the main struggle, then build the characters around it; however, I tend to produce more along the way.
Establish what they look like:
— Try to visualize what your character looks like. It’s not necessary to incorporate that in the first few pages, but it can be a slow introduction. The importance is to grasp a mental image of your character(s).
Add characteristics you are familiar with:
— Each character you create is a piece of your personality.
— Graft to principles you admire about them.
— Highlight the not-so-likable qualities.
Add traits which aren’t normal for you:
— Maybe a profession or hobby (you may have to research)? What sets this character apart from you?
— Add imperfect characteristics: flaws, disfunction, or some other trait that will make them more realistic.
Lastly, as weird as it sounds, become the character:
— When you are writing, you must step inside their head, see behind their eyes, and create scenes from their perspective.
— Every character feels emotions. Some characters may suppress feelings that others cannot see; however, their emotion is always visible to the author/reader.
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you cannot help but to feel sorry for the abhorrent monster—an intelligent, articulate beast.
“You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do; and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.”
Just from that example, you feel the creature’s pain and loneliness. It is a sad tale, but Mary Shelley poured enough seasoning into each personality, leaving the reader is conflicted.