Isn’t it the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make a character real in our fiction? Their behavior patterns, their neuroses, their fears, their fetishes? Actually, isn’t that what makes us real?
What moments happen that make them who they are? How can we as writers make the reader feel those moments so that the reader can become that character while they are immersed in your novel? The common thread we all share is emotion. If we can evoke or trigger an emotion in our reader that corresponds to the emotion of the character, we have hit a home run. The reader can then empathise and experience the character in their own psyche.
What I find a fun challenge is to immerse the reader in a character that they might not expect they can relate to. To create a link between the psyche of the reader and a character whom they at first feel averse to can give the reader a new and unique experience in your book, and perhaps even impact the reader on a more permanent basis.
To do this we need to become students of human nature, human experience, and the human mind and emotions. Dissecting and discerning the differences between animal instincts, cultural influences, religious imprinting, sexual imprinting, and parental and peer imprinting can be a great place to start. What makes a person what they are, and how does their unique perspective impact the world around them.
How do people love? How do they manipulate? How do they seek attention? How do they manifest their emotions through their behavior? One of the best places to start learning to read these aspects of people is within yourself. Especially the sides of ourselves that we might not like, or might be embarrassed about, or might not want to see. Unraveling our own shadows can lead to amazing discoveries about what makes human beings human.