Note: I wrote this after reading a similar article in The Writer magazine about a year ago. Hope it's helpful!
Not all characters are created equal. Here are some steps to make yours superior.
Figure out what your character wants, needs, desires. A closer relationship with God? A place to belong? Just to survive? Figure it out. You cant move on to number 2 until you have.
Now that you know what your character most desires, you should be able to figure out what he/she most fears. Doing the wrong thing, being alone, death? They are the polar opposites of your characters desires.
Go back in time to before your story begins and create a detailed backstory for your character. What happened in to past to create in him the desires and fears that he has now? Be specific. Write out individual scenes, or at least play them through in you mind (though these never have to be in the actually story). You need to know your character, to understand the way he thinks.
After you have all of the above figured out, its time to describe the current behavioral patters of your character. You know why he is the way he is, so it shouldnt be difficult to give him specific habits and fetishes. Quirks are what make a character unique and interesting.
5) High Stakes
Raise the stakes as high as you can. Make your character come to a climactic moment, a moment where he has to choose between desire and fear. Which will win? This is the key element of any story. Without it, the reader will have no motive for investing hours of time in your work. Put everything on the line. I mean, come on, this is what makes writing an adventure!
6) Dont Meddle
This means that the story is now out of your hands. It belongs to your characters. Let them do the telling. Dont control them, even if it means that they will do something you personally wouldntlike eat mayonnaise. Ug! Anyhow, just let your characters take on a life of their own. Remember that it's their story and not yours. They should be the ones talking!
7) Let Go
Now that youve created characters with specific desires, fears, histories, and quirks, its time to let them play. This is where the fun begins. Throw them together by whatever means your story requires, then sit back at watch what happens. You may not know what will happen next, but thats the beauty of writing. Dont worry about ultra analyzing or book-length outlines. Telling the storys not your job, anyhow. Let your characters do all the work. All you have to do is open your imagination and take notes of what they do.