I'm participating in the Great Blogging Experiment writing about creating compelling characters.
When it comes to making a character compelling I think the most important part is to have the character's stakes in their conflict be clear to the reader. A major character can be likable or not, but either way there needs to be a clear understanding of what the character has vested into the story's conflict and what they stand to loose. This applies to the protagonist and the antagonist.
The character's stakes don't have to be life and death. What they can risk loosing through various choices is related to their main conflict. This does relate back to character driving plot. What a character doesn't have and is trying to attain becomes the conflict for the story. From this conflict comes the plot. Without compelling characters plot can fall flat.
Another part of a character's stakes are the choices they make through the story. When writing these choices it helps to understand what the benefits and costs of each option are for the character. What will happen to the protagonist if she decides not to challenge what a former friend is saying about her? What about if she says something to this person? Or about this person?
In real life we all face choices and risk loosing or gaining things. As a reader seeing this in characters makes them more interesting and almost real in a way. Plus to feeling that risk that a character faces helps keep an interest in the story. We read on to find out what choices the character makes to work out their conflict and how it is all resolved. Does the character loose what's important to them? Do they solve what they need to?
20 hours ago