Well, it’s easy to say ‘make your character a real person’, but how to do that?
Some people recommend making a list of all the attributes of the character – what they look like, age, gender; what they do, think, feel about things; what they wear; what their history is (backstory); where they live and who they live with (family); social and theological beliefs; community; …
But does it really work? In some cases, it can round out your person; not always. There are ways to put yourself (author) in the role of a ‘character writer’, which is to say the writer becomes the character in the same way that an actor becomes a character (a character actor).
As usual, discussion was intense and many options for real characters were thrown up in the air, thrown out, and scribbled down. In the end, the character must be not just three-dimensional, but four.
A four dimensional character is well-rounded, complete and has a deep, sincere, and life-changing motivation.
Yes, motivation is the fourth dimension. If a character is not motivated, they are not fully involved in the story, and therefore, the character will seem to be flat in relation to the real person we were hoping to find.
A moment of discussion here: a fully-rounded, four dimensional character is an active character – they DO things (and this comes down to the ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ mantra). A real person does things that show their character – by doing, interacting, saying, thinking, etc, we see the real person. Let the character do things for themselves; let them be real!