What, what, what!!! Every character has to have backstory. We can say through our own experiences, “I do this because of this.” Each character has to have reasons behind their motivates and actions. When I first sent my book to an editor she responded that she wanted more from a certain character. She didn’t understand his motivations. Why would he leave to sign up with a pirate ship? He has the comforts of life. Sure, they are not all ideal. We have to explain with internal dialog, external dialog, emotion, and description. Otherwise they are fake characters that readers cannot have emotional experiences through. They are not relate-able. So lets go back, the character, has the comforts of the world, but is a prisoner to it. Controlled, alone, stuck inside his own mind for relief, acting out is his only release, and doomed behind the expectations of others. The life that is seen as attractive to those who do not have it is a hellhole to him. Is he a little naive to jump up and expect that signing up for a pirate ship was a rational idea to fix the problem? Of course, but that’s why the story is good because of his irrationality. Can everyone think up an irrational decision you have made and in the end you paid for it?
It was very easy for me to come up with my main character, Acantha’s background and motivation. I used myself as the reference, but not all of the characters can be me. Now, not that I have cut many a person’s head off, but there are times in my life that were darker than others and I can use cutting peoples heads off as a metaphor. Sometimes I worry about not having enough motivation behind my characters actions. I end up asking my hubby, “Is it enough.” We have to sit down and look at all the evens and I still worry, but that might be my downfall. So, sit down and think up every characters background, use your imagination. How were they born, raised, parents, culture, experiences, and so forth. Give them a history before you give them a place in your story.