I had someone tell me once that they didn't understand how to create a 'boring' or normal person.
The best stories are about the boring and normal people who save the world, because they're not all that boring, if you give them the right chance.
Here's an example...
Everyone adores Harry Potter... But aside from the whole 'Living when he shouldn't have', he wasn't good in school, had a few friends and sure excelled at Quiddich, but that's not enough to make you super amazing.
Neville was just as boring and yet given a chance, did amazing things.
The characters that draw you in, aren't the ones who start out amazing. They're the ones that become amazing. They aren't seeking it, many don't even want it, but when the moment happens, they step up and do what's needed.
So how do you go about 'creating' a real character, who's not a Mary Sue?
You can start anywhere, a photo, a name, an idea, any of it. From there, you think of a back story. I have a character names Ezio Kaito Kelly. Yes, his name is weird, but I explain it as his parents looking up names and liking the meanings of Ezio, Eagle and Kaito, Soaring Over the Ocean. Which is why my little Irish/English kid from Canada has such a weird name.
If you can make it seem normal, go for it. I know someone who named their son Sequoia Ocean and another friend who named their daughter Serenity Rain. So strange names by normal people isn't unusually. So long as you can explain it in a reasonable way.
Ezio's heritage is English and Irish. But his family at some point moved to Vancouver, B.C. and that's where he grew up. While his parents were loaded, he's a fairly simple guy. He lived a normal, boring life with his parents and 2 adopted sisters, and best friend from age 12 on. Compared to the others in the world he's from, he's short at 5'6", he's young at 22 [when it started, he's now 26] and he's not covered in tattoos or piercings [weird for an outlaw biker].
He wasn't abused, which can be normal, destitute, which can also be normal, or sickly. His best friend, Chloe Faith Moretti however had a different life.
Her older sister is a good 15 years older than she is, her mother died when she was a teen and she never met her father. She grew up around bikers and was often babysat by little old ladies who barely spoke english. It was there that she learned to cool. They didn't have money growing up and so much of her life was spent barely getting by. Her mother bought a house on the outskirts of the good part of town to get her into the best school she could.
Both are normal people. Sure, they've got issues over the years. She's insecure about plenty and its taken time to get past that. He's broken and twisted in the head, but is also skilled at art and is a loving person.
Not gonna say the broken parts don't come out. They do. Ezio has a love of a good fight and often needs to release something pent up inside of him. His good friend Mal will go out bar hopping with him, looking for a jerk in need of being beaten. And yes, he is picky about who he fights. It needs to be someone who can defend themselves and has been acting like an ass.
And then, Ezio will beat them up and most likely win. He is skilled, but I was able to explain that as well. Years of Martial Arts training, mixed in with Brawling and you have a scary fighter. He's also taken lessons from friends who were in the military or on the force. At 26 he's good with a handgun, throwing knives and big knives for hand to hand. But given a choice, he'd rather just use his body. Why? That's the one thing that's always creeped me out about the twerp.
You can't hear the bones breaking when you use a gun or knife, and he likes to hear that sound.
Didn't mean to get side tracked, but an author should have a love of their characters that leads them to this place of exploration.
Tomorrow, I'm gonna talk about Character Creation - The Center of the Character