I have written four novels and participate in several writers forums. Often the question is asked, "How can I make my characters appear more lifelike? How can I describe them?"
I found found that works best for me is to base your main characters after real life people that you know well. You know their characteristics, so you just pull those unique character traits into them in your book. Even though my stories begin in the year 1614, personality quirks were pretty much the same then as they are now, only the language has changed.
My main character Felipe for example, is based on my son. Very intelligent, bold and brave, yet often given to flash in anger in his youth. As he aged, with his Uncle Adreas's training, he learned to manage his temper and hatred of the Spaniards and only point his wrath at the king's soldiers, even sparing those who did surrender.
Andreas was based on myself, older and wiser, his friend and mentor who raised him in the way of the blade, training him from a very young boy. By the time he was eighteen years old, he was deadly with his hands as well as any other weapon of the time. Under his guidance, Felipe learns much. But, by the third novel, Felipe is beginning to get concerned about him still acting as a pirate. He is aging, as I am. His eyes are failing and his knees, particulary his left one is wracked by arthritis. Felipe suggests that it is time for him to hang up his sword which of course he refuses to do. The small realities of life make a character come to real life.
The beautiful but spoiled princess, the sole heir to the throne was fashioned after my wife. I simply took her real life characteristics and built her character in the books. Bold and daring, yet a natural magnet for animals, they all just seem to have a natural trust of her. this came in very useful as she fell for the main character, then began to introduce many animals into his life which he resisted, then accepted with his heart as well.
Batu, the huge former slave that Felipe freed was based on a very big firefighter friend of mine. As large as he is, he could very easily be dangerous, which he is toward the Spanish soldiers. His hatred of them runs deep for the selling of his children, the rape of his wife and the scars on his back. But like all unusually large men, God gave him a very easygoing temperament. He and Felipe become the best of friends then begin pulling pranks on each other.
Many of my other characters were also based on real life people, like Yon Zack who was based on my son in law, Jon Zack. Lisa, the beautiful prostitute was based on my daughter Amber.
Here is the sweet part. Once you develop these characters then introduce a plot, the story almost writes itself as you know how each of these people would react to any given situation. Just like "Star Trek" or any other series, you know that Warf would say, "We must kill it immediately!", Spock would say, "Fascinating." Kirk would say, "Scotty, I need warp speed in one minute or we are all dead." Scotty would say, "She's giving it all she's got captain, if i push her any harder, she's going to blow!" Bones would say, "Dammit Jim!"
You get the picture, use people that you know, that way you don't have to create them, just introduce them to your readers.
About Author / Additional Info:
Fernandez is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction novels with an action/adventure and humor slant. You can visit his website and take seak peeks at his work here...http://thepiratescove.yolasite.com/