Characters Are People Too.
Characters are people too. I don’t mean that characters appear behind you, looming over the back of your chair to peak at your kindle or book, because that would be creepy (yes, I just looked behind me to make sure there's no one there), but rather that the best characters and certainly my favorite characters are those who appear to have a story and journey of their own. It is all very well to have a dream man with a killer body and cocky smile but does that really compensate for having no background, no likes or dislikes? In my opinion, no.
That’s not to say that I am opposed to a good bit of eye candy, I love a good looking man with a plan as much as the next person and sometimes you just need a bit of easy lovin'. However, when I want to get my teeth into something juicy, a book that I have to stay up all night to finish reading, I look for a little more. For a character to really grab me they need a back story. For me, a character should have a whole history and just like in crime shows where the cops go undercover as a completely new person, they have a new character. That character may hate coffee (perish the thought) or may be addicted to those tasty little caramel chocolates that circulate the stores at Christmas or they may even like to dress up as a purple unicorn caller Bert. Hmmm, I digress.
Anyway, back to characters. Characters have to be individuals, you can take a bad boy turned good, an anti-hero, a geek, a jock, a good guy, the boy next door or even an ex that comes back but that model means nothing if there isn’t any substance. My favorite authors can take a model like one of these and make a character so life-like, so fleshy and tangible that the FBI and the CIA would have trouble proving they weren't real. These characters have flaws, they have dreams and aspirations and they make mistakes. Andrew, in my book Out of CTRL, has body issues just like a lot of other people, he has misjudged people, he has been hurt and struggled but he's also incredibly protective of the people he loves, has a tendency to plant spam pop-up bombs on peoples' computers and he will agree to almost anything to stop his feet being tickled.
There is no magic formula to do this but the author and reader imagination is a wonderful thing, so wonderful in fact that the suspension of disbelief is a very real thing. A reader can believe the unbelievable and the author can create a character that seduces, annoys, irritates and charms reader. Despite the fact there are just as many people to say nay as yay for the Twilight series, the polarization of the two male leads is relevant here as the characters carry a certain weight, there is a history with Carlisle's shared experiences and a future with Alice's vision and even insight into the private spaces of other characters in the brief episode of Edward's perspective. Putting the story and plot aside, the characters themselves offer something unique in the mix of flaws and qualities that resonate. Every character is unique and not every reader is going to picture the character in exactly the same way, just like people in the non-book world (reality) perceive 'real' people.
I can walk down the street and see a man in a trench coat and platinum blond hair and have a fan girl moment of thinking "oh, my god, it's Spike!" but my friend could walk with me and think "I wish it was Angel". Again, the key thing is that the characters have…well, character. Simply put they have a beginning, middle and end, just like a story.