Here's a checklist we can use to help judge whether your characters are developed and interesting/likable enough:
- Beta Reader reaction. This comes up again and again for a reason. Test the characters with your betas. If they don't seem swept away, try to figure out why and go from there.
- Does your character have both positive and negative qualities? Is your hero that you've fallen head over heels for perfect? Then make him flawed! Real people aren't perfect, and neither should your character be. I'm not just talking character arc here folks - I'm talking other attributes as well.
- Can you answer the question, what makes my character different from all the others? Can you answer it with specifics? Quirky habits are great, but they only go so far. It should reflect the distinct personality of your character. What makes Katniss so endearing? She isn't exactly easy to love. Is it her fierce love and determination to protect her sister, even at the cost of living with a mangy cat? Maybe that's part of it.
- Has the character surprised you with a reaction/action? I love it when my characters do this. Only writers really get it, but when the character has a life of his own, he will resist doing something if it isn't what he'd choose. Listen to that. If everything he does is predictable to you, it may be predictable to the reader.
I'm sure there are a million other tests. What are some ways you use to tell whether the character will appeal to others? Anything surprising up here? Discuss!!