...Then I started doing the exercises in Donald Maass's amazing book Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (a book YOU MUST get if you are writing fiction). Suddenly the characteristics I had imagined so clear in my head started revealing themselves for the blurry, vague ideas they were.
The exercises helped me to realize the importance of taking your time in getting to know your characters the RIGHT way. Not in delving into their favorite brands and flavors of ice cream, or knowing the exact shade of brown their hair is. It's in digging deep into their needs, wants, and flaws and then creating external conflicts to draw out these characteristics and showcase them for the audience.
That's what I did with my protagonist today.
And I decided I won't be stopping with my protagonist.
Something that I've been striving for in this novel has been to create a cast of diverse and fully developed side characters. From the villain to the best friend to the love interest to the characters who surround them all, I want readers to find the characters to be believable and interesting. Not just as a group of props to provide the protagonist with whatever he happens to need at the time. And that starts with adding dimensions.
Challenge to Self: complete the character exercises for all relevant characters. No wimping out allowed.