Gained from the insight of Stephen King, Robert McKee, and Brandon Sanderson, here is advice for developing your book characters.
Have your characters walk through the same scene and watch how they experience the same things very differently. Imagine what Sherlock Holmes would take in from 1960s London as opposed to Rapunzel from Tangled.
1. Your character should be proactive. No one likes a character who only reacts, because they come off as lazy, and they don’t seem interesting. They’re predictable. Even if your character is a skunk of a human being, we’ll be fascinated by them and drawn to their story if they are proactive.
2. Make them an expert at something. Make all your characters, no matter how much of a loser or klutz, really good at one thing.
3. Have other characters like them. Think about this in relation to your antagonist. Your reader will develop feelings of compassion for the villain if they see other characters who really love him. We trust that people who are liked are likable somehow.
Who we are, who we want to be:
We as readers are drawn to people with our same flaws, needs, wounds, and desires. We are drawn to characters who are more like who we wish to be. If you as the writer can take your own desires and fears and knit them into your characters, your readers will sense something real and be drawn in.
A character with problems, a character who is an underdog, is likable. At our core, we believe we’re the underdog, the loser. We will relate to the one who is bullied, left out, struggling, because we’ve been there.
Character is shown through choice, not dialogue or description.
Your character will naturally choose the easiest option. If you want them to save the world, you have to push them until they have no other options left.