I can honestly say that I know my characters very well. I write a list of their traits, likes and dislikes, genealogy, traumas, description…the list can go on and on. But does the reader really care? Most of the stuff I write down doesn’t even get into the manuscript. It’s good for me to know, but I’m not the one that needs to be convinced to care, the reader is.
The question then becomes: do the readers know what you know about your characters? When I talk about my kids to friends at work, I tell them, well, they’re good kids. And they nod, but for some reason I know they don’t really believe me. Maybe it’s because I’m their mother and what mother doesn’t say to the world that their kids are, well, good. In writing your characters, we need to remember this. The reader may not feel what we feel for our characters, not yet anyway. This leads to, not only motivation, but characterization. What is it that we are showing the reader? In researching, I found this good website that describes characterization and how it relates to screenplays. I found it useful.
Developing character and motives
"We can know the characters so well that we forget to let the audience in on what we understand about them."