Monday, February 28, 2011

The antagonist - Kill it with fire!

Back faster than usual this week because I'm taking a break from school. In case you're wondering, I should be sorting out law books right now. Well... ignoring that...

I decided to quit moaning about my own life and get back to some writing talk. So, my new topic (still on characters, though) is the antagonist.

What is the antagonist?

You know, he's that evil guy/girl giving your protagonist hell for some reason or another. A being of pure evil with crooked teeth, a hump and claws for hands. Well, at least that's what they used to be.

Now a days, antagonists come in many shapes and sizes. From giant brown eyes perched on top of dubious towers, to sexy vampires or kick-ass women. And it's all good. Having just one sort of villain with one sort of motivation is really boring and kinda predictable.

So let's build one for ourselves.

Step 1 - Why do you need him?

I know what you're going to say. In a battle of good versus evil, there must be some evil to challenge good. Not exactly. The new trend is the enemy inside the protagonist. Or the evil in the form of a friend. Or the evil surroundings that makes life harder for everyone (I'd like to see you kill an earthquake off with fire :p)
So,basically,  not all books/stories need an antagonist. And never, ever create on just for an outer conflict. You know why? Because they won't deliver.
My personal advice on this one: Don't create an antagonist just to prove how smart the protagonist is. That's no challenge and it pisses the reader off most of the time. The antagonist is someone you fear. Don't make him too stupid to live. His reason to be is to create tension, make him almost win (or win) and keep the reader guessing.

Step 2 - Who is he?

So you decided you needed one. Great. Now, who is he and why does he want to shoot/stab/kill your protagonist or make his life living hell?
Will you go for the jealous ex friend, a long forgotten relative in it for the inheritance or a crazed crime boss? Whoever you chose, remember motivation. If your antagonist doesn't have a reason for being a baddie, he's not valid.
The pure evil argument - okay, that works too, especially in fantasy where you can explain that by a genetic malfunction (he didn't come out as a fairy, he came out as a troll - sucks for him. Kill it with fire!), but don't forget to give him/it a goal, a purpose for using his/her evilness. What's his/her motivation? World domination? Money? Something else entirely?
So here's what you have to do: Who is he, what is he to the good guys, why is he evil, what is his major plan and how will getting rid of the protags help him achieve it?
Or maybe getting rid of the protags is his major plan (like in my case) - but give him a decent reason for it.

Step 3 - Superpowers?

Okay, so you have your baddie with a motivation - what's his superpower? He must have something others don't which will help him achieve all this. Maybe he has an army of street rats  or gangsters or monkeys trained to pickpocket. Or an army of orcs at that. Or any other creature.
Then again, maybe he can shoot laser out his... well, you know what I mean. He has to have something that makes him a valid threat.

Step 4 - Kryptonite?

You made this total badass with an army. Why won't he win? What's his weakness? Is he overconfident and makes mistakes (that's my personal fave - cocky villains should be killed with fire), is he basing everything on someone who betrays them. Does he end up being the good guy? (also personal fave, but tough to work and make believable). Or maybe he just plain won't grow while the hero trains his butt off to increase his power. Then again, maybe the hero has friends and two heads (or more) are always better than one.
So take your pick and make it something good.

Step 5 - What do I do with him?

So you now have your fully fledged villain. Make him throw rocks and create tension for your good guys, then give him a grand finale that will satisfy every reader possible. You could have him win and get away with it if you made him likable enough. Or you could kill it with fire and everyone lives happily ever after. It's all up to you.

My antagonists

And I'm referring to the main ones, (because I tend to write many henchmen), all share a common trait - and I've just noticed this after I wrote my second antagonist - they're not as bad as they first seem.

Sure, they both want to kill the MCs for some reason:
In Vlad's case, Hunters are his natural enemies, and when two of them start hunting him down, of course he wants to kill them. After they escape, they hurt his huge, evil ego, so of course he'd want to go after them and kill them personally. Will he make it? Maybe, maybe not.
In Snitch Gravel's (don't cringe, it's not his real name, but if I wrote down his real name, the whole series would blow up) case, he wants to kill the MCs as a two headed revenge plan: against their parents and the agency they work for. So he's killing two rabbits with one stone (or was it two birds?). And, when the brats escape, of course he'd get pissed and want to kill them even more.

I tend to make my antagonists smart.
Vlad is decently brained - he's a born leader and a very cerebral man... well, vampire, I guess. If it weren't for his overconfidence, he would have won the game. But being cocky is his kryptonite as is playing God. That will be his undoing.
Snitch Gravel - is a genius. I mean, really a genius, though he might not seem so - he could singlehandedly out think any of the good guys (who, in themselves are pretty smart too). His weakness? His conflicting feelings which get him to make conflicting decisions and end up failing to kill anyone. I know what you're going to say - what, the villain has feelings? - well, yes, and in this case a lot of them. So Snitch Gravel ends up testing the good guys to see when they'll snap.

Which brings me to my next point - my antagonists have feelings:
Vlad loved his long-dead brother and it still hurts sometimes that he ended up smearing his brother's name with vampire legends.
Snitch Gravel has a lot of trauma in his past, memories he tries to block out an ignore. It's kinda what motivates him to keep being an evil prick. But it's also what throws him off at times. And - big shocker- he actually feels pretty bad when he does bad things.

My villains aren't pure evil - because no one in their right mind is:
Vlad: Sure, he kills people and Hunters - but that's because he's a vampire. And he kills other vampires sometimes if they don't fall into his world order - but it's an occupational hazard of being an evil creature. He would be admirable if he could get along with humans, but, this way, he's just a normal vampire. Who's to blame a wolf for eating sheep?
Snitch Gravel: is not a drug dealer, weapons seller or prostitute -whatever you do with them. He gets his money from legit business and has a ton of it.  It's true that he lets his henchmen dive into all of the above and doesn't care where the weapons come from as long as they do. That doesn't make him better, but he never does the evil with his own hand - he has others doing it for him. And it's not to keep the suit clean - he's not a public figure and could kick anyone's butt in hand-to-hand combat- no one even knew he was still alive for 20 years - it's because of his slightly double personality - the good guy and the evil bastard battling inside him. The evil bastard wins.

So there you have it! I like to write pretty complex villains - because it's more fun and creates more tension if the reader has some sympathy for the bad guy as well.  And I personally love to read about well developed evils.

So, who's your antagonist and what's their motivation?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The sleeper has awaken... friendless

Hey everyone!

After what felt like years (for me), I've returned with a new post. My absence is due, moving house, buying furniture, parents constantly coming over In no particular order. So, I'm struggling to keep up with everything and maybe even do some light editing.

The thing is, I've been having a bunch of bad days lately. I can't stand going to school anymore. The subjects are boring, there's the stress of senior year and exams and my friends... are not really my friends anymore. Dang, my boyfriend's right. Watch out for big groups of girls - they'll eat each other alive. I don't really get into that, but I am currently the weakest link and my darling ex-best friends are searching for the spark for an embarrassing conversation and throwing out of the group. I know that. I can feel it. It's happened to me once before, in high school. I was an idiot then, so I'm not making the same mistake twice. It's ignore the signs from here on out. I only have a few months left of college anyway. Why bother?

So yeah, my social life sucks right now. And it's an extra stress reason I didn't need. (For those who don't know, I am graduating law school in June this year, and apart for the horrible graduation exam (we have one of those) I also have an even more gruesome exam to get into judge school in August). So my morale is pretty low right now. And a bitch fight is not on my list.
I don't really care about all that, but it's annoying when they're all planning to go out and deliberately leave you out, or when they start inviting people to their place and ignore you, just because you were busy the first couple of times (I can almost hear them - You never come, so what's the point in inviting you OR, better yet, The invitation was wide open. Of course you could come if you wanted to) Well, girls, believe it or not, I believe in things called loyalty and good manners.

Before you get too depressed, at least things are going well at home. My brother finally moved out and I now live with my boyfriend. And we get along just fine :)

Okay, enough teenage angst! As all things in my life, this had to reflect in my writing. As I said, this thing happened to me in high school too, and my writing saved me then. I murdered my ex-best friend in my writing (not literally killed her, but faced her properly - and it felt soooo good).

In my WIP, my characters have friends. Not many of them, since they tend to be like... five brothers, so they're a lot of people in the family - and they're basically the group of friends.
And after thinking of my own predicament, I've realized that the only best-friend type person I've ever written in detail ends up... betraying his best friend by sleeping with his girlfriend. Okay, I totally did not do this on purpose.
I don't have bitchfights between friends in my book (though one girl does steal her supposed friend's love interest, but the other girl takes it like a champ - talking about Christine snatching Sam from Lisa here, for those who know my characters). I do however have a bit of best-friend conflict.

FREX(I'm too lazy to explain): Jessie - she's best friends with both Kyle and Kay who are dating. Whose side would she take when the two of them end up fighting? Well, if she were fair, she'd stay out of this. But when they both want to vent to her... then it's a little bit harder.
Example number 2: Christine and Angie - they're friends. Best friends from Christine's POV. Yet, when trouble comes, Angie tends to be on Sam's side. Well, depending who is wrong.

Oh, this is going to be so much fun to write. My fifth volume is going to be overly emotional. :p

Right, enough babble. So, you vent through your work? Trash the boss, the bitchy girlfriend, the rude guy at the bar? Anyone? Or am I the only one going through cheap therapy through my own writing?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Hey everyone! Happy Valentines!

I don't know where you guys come from, but in my little corner of the universe, we don't have Valentine's. Well, at least we didn't use to. Now, we do. But I don't celebrate it. Why? Because I love my significant other every other day of the year and show it every single day. Why should today be special?
Plus, all the commercialism really grinds my gears. So I'm pretty much an anti-Valentiner. The only reason I still acknowledge the existence of this holiday - our mutual hate for it brought me and my boyfriend of  seven years together. :) And we're still growing strong.

Okay, writing related. What I do like about this time of year is the romance in the air - and I'm a romance nut. And I enjoy spending my time with other romance nuts.
So, today's post will be all about Romance. As you all know by now (or not) I write YA. I've also written a paranormal Romance, but I have some work to do on that (it's still a first draft, and I'm getting such good ideas for it). In all my books, I like to write romance and relationships. I'm not always very good at it - and incidentally, I messed up most in my genre romance. And that's mainly because I changed something when I got a brilliant idea, and now everything went downhill from there. Will fix it.

I love reading romance - I can usually take all sorts of it - except sappy. I usually go for the hot romance, but I don't like it to get graphic or anything either. I mean I do read graphic, I'm no prude or anything, but I for one can't write it. The only sex scenes I wrote are fade to black. And even when I get more daring and have people talk or think about it - I'm still always fading to black. :p

When I was in grade school and used to write for practice, I gave absolutely every character a love interest and spun a story around them. I'm trying to keep myself from doing that now, but I might slip into the eventual secondary character having a brief, twenty-four-hour relationship which might end in a marriage proposal and a baby underway (Yes, I actually did that. how did the guy cope? He luckily died before hearing the news).
But, I try to stick to my MCs and their relationships.

Now, for those not interested in ramblings about my work, the post ends here. Thanks for reading. :) The rest may still read on.

My couples:

Daniel and Rachel - I'm starting with them since they're only in one book and a short book at that. They're the MCs of my Paranormal Romance Hunters. Who are they? Two vampire hunters (Hunters- a different species all together) who are partners and best friends.
At first, they both have significant others: Daniel is engaged and Rachel has a steady boyfriend for 3 years. Well, the way the story has it, Daniel's fiancé dies and Rachel's boyfriend dumps her. So, while on a dangerous hunt, the two fall for each other.
What is the trouble in their relationship? Daniel is still stuck on his ex - at least he's trying to be - while Rachel falls in love with him. Then their behavior towards each other goes ballistic.
They finally confess their feelings, Daniel explains why he's been acting like an asshole towards her and they try to live happily ever after.

Sam and Christine: Sam is the main MC from my YA series. He's hot, smart and rich, but really shy and socially awkward around the girl he loves.
Christine is gorgeous and popular, but also shrewd. Socially awkward Sam doesn't notice this, so it's a surprise for him when they eventually hook up.
Even if Christine is the one running the relationship ( Sam would do anything to keep her happy), Sam does put his foot down regarding some aspects (no snogging while we're in danger) and Christine backs off whenever he goes into serious leader mode.
Up until in later books, their relationship is tame with Christine trying to bring Sam out of the shy shell and get some action.

Tom and Angie: Tom is Sam's twin and lacks the shyness that sets Sam back. But he happens to have a huge ego, be insanely jealous and have a love-hate relationship with Angie. While Angie is nice and friendly with everyone else (even Sam) she's a complete bitch towards Tom. Long story short, some high school misunderstanding hurt both their egos. Even if they still love each other to bits.
Things change when Tom saves her life and she tells him how she feels. They eventually hook up (again) and have an adrenaline-filled relationship, spiced up by incontrollable passion, danger and their huge egos.

Jerry and Tina: Jerry is a complete prude. Not to mention he is anal as well. Tina is older than him and completely shy as well. Together they are my geek couple. It will take them a whole six months of relationship before actually kissing. And even if they acknowledge their feelings pretty fast, they'll be on standby before jealousy, frustration and a wave of passion makes them interesting (which happens in book 4). Until then, they live in a world where science rules and there's no need for too much physical contact.

Jimmy and Jessie: Jimmy is Jerry's twin and has all the fire that Jerry misses. Badly hurt in a previous relationship, he gives love another chance when hooking up with evil Alice. Jessie arrives some time later and he completely falls for her.
Jessie is engaged to some evil prick her parents set her up with, but that doesn't stop her from falling for Jimmy hard. And even if they both have other people, they're magnetically drawn to each other.
They're my most reasonable couple. They get along great, are equals in the relationship, they don't fight for stupid reasons and love each other like crazy. They just keep on growing.

Kyle and Kay: They met in high school, were friends and then hooked up. A few hours later (as in after they hooked up) they both moved to different states and were unable to communicate for a whole year. They meet again on their first mission, both of them secret agents, and it's love reignited. None of them got over the other.
They're relationship is usually ruled by Kyle. Kay trusts him and feels safe and protected. Though she can play him when he least expects it.
She tends to be a bit insecure about her relationship while he trusts her blindly and never doubts his or her feelings. What results is a fight for love and trust and stability. And a lot of unexpected explosions of passion. They were voted most popular couple in my series so far :) Because there's drama and a hint of the unpredictable with them. (And that's maybe because people like to see big, tough Kyle brought down by a girl:))

I personally don't have a favorite couple. I like all of them because I know what's in their hearts and minds, and that makes them all interesting (yes, even Jerry and Tina). Though if I really had to go with one, I'd say Jimmy and Jessie. I'm amazed at the sheer balance those two have created ( I had nothing to do with it, honest)

This is it! So, how do you celebrate your Valentine's? And which is your personal (from your own writing) favorite couple? Share the love :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Time, time...time, time

This past week, I continuously found myself out of time. For what? For anything. For writing, critiquing, blogging - everything. And it's frustrating because I find myself very tired. I tend to think it's because, as soon as my exam session in college was over, I got now holiday - zip, nada, continuous school starting the very next day at 8 a.m. (which implies waking up at 6: 30 - yes, I know I'm whiny). And the exhaustion is starting to catch up with me. So, today, I went home. Which implies an approximate 3 hour drive. So now I'm pooped. Again.

So...yeah. Fictional characters never have that kind of trouble, do they? They can skip over the boring trips and can be as fresh as daises after a good night sleep. Except when you're not letting them.
I personally don't let them.

By now, you might all know that I write a YA series. If you don't... I write a YA series. Yup, seven books - seven jewels, seven adventures, seven years, more or less (I tend to say more, because I think about eight years pass in between the first and last book of the series).
Does one book represent one year? Of course not! That would be waaay too coincidental (nudge, nudge - one of my few problems with Harry Potter). Actually, the first three books happen in about 4 months. Which leaves my characters exhausted. It's fun to write exhausted people when you're exhausted yourself. So I give them a bit of a short time.

They say timing is everything - my forth book skips 2 months. My fifth book skips over 3 years. How do you know when and how much time to skip? Well, I guess it's up to what you're trying to prove. And in my case, I'd better have a damn good reason why my team suddenly stops finding huge jewels. I do. I'm working on it.

In my current novel making the critting cycle, I jumped over 8 months at some point - and then the rest of the action kinda happens in three weeks. Why did I do that? Because my two, soon to be lovers, MCs needed some closure. Some people might get over failed relationships faster, but my peeps happen to be kinda... immortal, and as Daniel himself says: Cheryl died less than a year ago and that’s like a drop in my long life.

What I've never done, but am planning to do is leave my characters short for time. Make them act, give them no choice. So far, I'd left them at they're own pace. They don't stall, they pretty much get the job done, but they're never pressed for time by impending doom. That's something I want to try because I'm curious as to how my characters would react. Better put that on my to-do list. 

So, how about you guys? How to you handle your time? Does it slip out the window sometimes? And do your characters suffer from lack of time or too much of it?
*off to get some sleep* 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Character 102 - Handling more MCs

Hey, all! Still on characters. This time with a touchy - feely subject. Well, at least to me. Why? Because I tend to write many, many characters. And worst of all, make many of them MCs.
Let's get to it...

Here's the history of this post. Beside my Paranormal Romance NaNo novel, Hunters, I write YA. Upper YA, I tend to think, seeing as my books deal with hurting, killing people and a lot of romance. Plus, the characters are almost all over 18 (don't get that dirty mind working, I write clean books *wink wink*).
The thing is, my book series focuses on five brothers and how they handle a family feud (by family feud, I mean crazy-ass villain trying to kill them and crazy-ass secret agency recruiting them to fill some shoes). Let me reiterate that, in case you missed it. Five brothers. FIVE. Which gets me to having FIVE MCs. The only good part about all that is that I have seven (yes, SEVEN) books in which to stretch out their adventures and bring all their traits into focus.

My only problem is the first book, in which I introduce them. I start off with one of them, obviously - Sam - my POV character - I stick with his POV for six whole chapters before his deranged brothers take over. The thing is, some people found my constant POV switch (I ended up giving all the brothers a cornucopia of POVs in which they explore their deepest regrets and sorrows) confusing, to say the least.
And I don't blame them. I have a lot of characters! As in, give each MC a love interest, add an extra chick in there for a cat fight, add the cousins and backup team and... you've got a team made out of...18 people.
Which, realistically speaking, seeing as they're battling an army of henchmen, is not that many people. Yeah, try writing a scene with all of them there, though - I did. And without making it confusing. So I guess I don't have any trouble handling a large mass of characters.

I'm still kinda brainstorming on what to do with all the people. And I came to the conclusion that, except for important cousin Billy, everyone in the backup team will be an amorphous mass the reader shouldn't be bothered with. No real traits, no POV.
You might ask why I don't just delete the extra characters. Because I need them later. And I want the reader to remember that they did meet this guy at some point, he didn't just pop out of the ground. I'll work on this.

Back to the five MCs. The thing is, I mostly stick to Sam's POV - so he's like my main MC (MMC :-) ). But, as those who read my story can tell you. some of his brothers become a lot more interesting along the way - and romance nuts know what I mean.
While Sam has a tame relationship which involves nothing spicy, three of his brothers are a lot wilder when it comes to romance. So you have a love-hate relationship for one of them, a cat fight between two girl for another, and a long-lost-love betrayal story for the third.
And then there's Jerry who is like a comic relief because he's so anal about everything. He's the MC who's not really an MC yet. He will start growing and taking his words in future novels.

By the end of the series, all five of the bros will be just as important. They will have grown equally and all faced a life-changing event. Also, starting book three, I tend to break them up - fewer characters in a scene for the win (FTW).
Oh, did I mention that I get into the girlfriends heads too and have their POV? Hmmm... maybe I should have.

The thing is, for me, it's not hard to do. And, fortunately, the one teen reader I had (yeah, I'm looking at you Anna) wasn't confused with all the characters and the POV switches or anything - and they're my target market.
So, I basically like to handle and build this many characters. Everything would be crystal clear if I could write a 200k first volume. But I can't. So the hard part is selecting scenes and putting them together and make all of it flow.
I'm currently working on it. And I'll make it.

One of my critters told me, after she started reading Hunters, that I spent so much time giving my many characters the spotlight, that I couldn't shine as a writer. She's a sweetheart. And writing Hunters was fun. But I miss the complexity and the challenge my YA series provides.
Writing just two characters can turn into a drag. But, hey, it's a short novel which is meant to be fun and fast (for the curious ones, check out the first chapter in the sidebar)

So, basically, I think I might have a character fetish. I think not! Okay, I'm not exactly entitled to say.
The thing is, by the end of the whole thing, people got a clear image of my MCs (even Jerry - he's the anal, stubborn, quiet one, right? - yes, exactly). Which means I did a pretty good job with handling them. I'm not saying I don't need work - I need A LOT of work to make this flow well. And I'll search for the recipe for success.

Here's today's post's challenge/ question - what's your biggest number of characters in one WIP? Counting the heroes, the villains, the friends and even people who appear just once (okay, you can skip waitresses unless they have lines :p)

Mine is: *drum roll* 34 - including bad guys with names, parents, schoolmates, guides and a doctor. (Honestly, I was expecting a much larger number there)
So, what's your extreme number?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Character 101 - Basic building

Finally back from my slumber with more posting about everyone's favorite subject - Writing. And my favorite writing related subject - Characters.
There have been many words spent on how people create and develop characters. And, surprise, surprise, I deal with it too. There might be literature without characters, but I don't remember reading any, at least recently (might have in school).
So, how do you do it? Does the character come first and then the story or does the story create the character? I can only give you my thoughts - tell you how I do it.

1. The chicken or the egg?
What came first? The character or the story around him/her?
Well, in my case...both. The first characters I created didn't have a story. I mean, sure, they had a background and traits and physical existence - but there was no plot, no path for them to follow. So, I gave them one. I built a world and a story just for them. Of course, what they go through builds and changes them and the normal "writing" process takes its course.
For my next stories, I had the plot in mind. So I created characters to fit the action. For me, it works both ways. But...

2. How do I do it?
Everyone must have a method for spawning imaginary people/creatures. Mine goes a little something like this: physical traits, name, personality, evolution, result.

a. Physical appearance.

Oh, I'm pretty cheap with this. I'll only give you hair and eye color, height (as in tall or short - if I don't mention it, it's normal height), general built (skinny, fat, athletic, average) and other character's thoughts about them to show how others perceive them.
On hair and eye color, I'm usually prolific: my characters are blond, brunette, redheads and even have two MCs with orange hair(as is Publish Post button orange). Also, the hair texture is different: straight, curly, wavy - I don't really have girls with short hair - I usually give them long hair.
Also, my male MCs tend to have jet black hair. Not sure why.
Examples of how I do it:

Example 1: His broad, well-built frame was so still, he could’ve been a statue
Critter comment: what makes him well built? This is subjective, because to susie homemaker, this could mean a pale thin dude, while to frisky misty this couild mean muscular shoulders, thick neck, and biceps that look like a python that just swallowed a softball.

My point exactly - I give one trait and, depending on who you are, you imagine the character in a certain way. I don't want to influence the reader's perception - they should imagine the character the way they want to, using the few guidelines I give. This way, the reader creates part of the character themselves, and tend to be more attached to them. At least that's what I'm going for.
Also, the python thing is a trademark of my great critter. *smiley face*

Example 2:
“Sam, this is my friend Christine. Christine, this is Sam.” She pointed from on to the other. “Boyfriend material.” She winked at Christine. “Didn’t I tell you? Gorgeous green eyes. Tall, well built, athletic, extremely handsome. Not to mention he’s a genius and very sweet.”
Sam stared from Gorgeous Girl…Christine, to Lisa. “What are you doing?”
“Showing you off. I’ve been yearning to rub you in Christine’s face forever.”

This is how other characters see the character. So the reader could take Lisa's word for it, or not. It's up to them to create the image.

b. Name

How do you name characters? I first imagine how they look inside my head and then go over all the names that come to mind until I find one that seems to fit with who I want this character to be and what they look like. I tend to go for simple, easy to read names, for one simple reason. I don't bother reading complicated names. I tend to take a mental photo of how they look on the page and recognize them when I come across them. I guess this makes me a lazy reader. But, honestly, I didn't bother to care how to pronounce Hermione's name until book 4 taught me how to ;)
So, I write characters for other lazy readers, such as myself.
I do come up with the average cookie name (ignore nicknames which can verge on the retarded). Examples of my most "original" names: Freider, Mizrelle, Skye and Truby. I know, I should have my mind checked.
After I finally settle on a first name that I like, I roll around last names until I find the one that fits with the first name. I don't claim to be very good at those. I usually go for over simplistic names.
I give my characters middle names if they're relevant - I do have a few with middle names. I use the same procedure as for all the other names a pick.

c. Personality

Okay, so I have a face and a name. Why did I create this character? I want him to be the MC, so let's fill him up with flaws he/she will be able to correct by the end of their adventure. They do have their good sides - check above example. 
I tend to make my characters smart and play a lot on their logic sides. I like drawing up characters that don't seem all that bright at first, but then come up with an ingenious ideas. Because  not all people want to be smartasses.
I also start off with one basic trait and evolve around that to create a full personality. Also, give them a significant event in their past that tends to hold them back - and I'm not talking major drama - something very small could do the trick - like a fight between their parents who are now a happy couple. Stuff like that. Give them something to overcome and grow.

d. Evolution

Most important when developing a character, I think. Where are they and where will they go from there? How will they grow? What will they overcome? And, especially, how will it influence their personality.
Whenever I write, I usually go for smooth transitions - my characters don't tend to spin 180 in a matter of days. They might find some hidden courage or finally do something they were trying no to.
I do have a character turn planned for a future book - I think it's going to be tough one, and I'll have to plan it through really well. Stuff like this is easy to mess up. And I want to keep it realistic.

e. Result

So, the book is over. Where is the character now? Are they still at the starting point? Well, there's obviously something wrong with that picture then. The reader usually has expectations from the character (I personally do - I even tend to start screaming at them if they're not moving in the direction I want them to). If they're not fulfilled, they might be disappointed. And no writer wants to leave a reader disappointed.
When I submitted the last chapter of my novel for critique, I asked my readers if they thought the characters had evolved - fortunately for me, they all said yes. And also mentioned that they were less annoying now. Which I took as a good sign.

3. I have my character. Now what?

Congratulations! You've just created a real live person - well, kinda. Give it some trials, a significant other, an arch enemy and some traitorous allies while your at it. At least that's what I do in all my books so far. Not that I wrote many.

So, how do you do it? Share your thoughts and point out my shortcoming. I always enjoy that.