giving your character a soul

I really thought I had the characterization of my current protagonist Guillermo down until I let my friend and crit partner Peter Cooper read the first three chapters of The Garden. He commented at the end of chapter one that he didn't feel like he knew enough about Guillermo--what were his hopes and his dreams?


I hadn't thought of that. I was so wrapped up in Guillermo's inner angst, setting the dark mood, getting the description down, that I forgot he just might have something like hopes and dreams.

During an eight hour round trip to the coast, I thought about Guillermo and his dreams. What did he want out of life? What made getting out of bed in the morning worthwhile to him?

So I gave him a girlfriend. Then I took her away from him.

I'm mean like that.

Yet by giving Guillermo that dream of marrying a woman he loved made him more vulnerable. He blinds himself to her faults; he believes he is just as worthy of her attention as the next man, that he can overcome class distinctions to make her his wife. He wants to be valued for the person he is and in his desperation to be loved, he allows himself to believe he has a chance to win her hand.

Dreams glimpsed then forfeited. All beyond the power of his control.

What about you? What do you do to give your characters a soul? Do you use love or hate? Jealousy? What characters have you read that you felt were well-rounded with hopes and dreams?