I just reread Hunger Games and noticed the most amazing thing: it is loaded with Katniss's memories. You can hardly read a page or two without Katniss remembering something, and in those memories we (the readers) grow more and more attached to her. For not killing Prim's cat Buttercup. For saving her family with edible dandelions. There are a million memories scattered through Hunger Games and each gives us insight into Katniss, as a person--well character. :) I sometimes forget.
Upon realizing this, I picked up a few of my favorite books--the ones that come up again and again in my mind. Almost all of them are laced with memories in the way HG is. Now, there are lots of books that accomplish characterization without memories. It can be done. But I’ve learned from this realization that truly deep, round, fleshed out characters remember their past when experiencing their present. I decided to test this with a few of my scenes in my WIP and bam! Suddenly the scene has a new depth to it, a new realness that it didn’t possess before. And doesn’t it make sense? Don’t we, as people, remember our past experiences when we are experiencing our present?
Every time I see anything that has to do with NYC, I remember my honeymoon—where my husband and I spent our first days married in NYC for Christmas. Most specifically, I remember the first time I stood in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (hence the photo).
Try it and let me know: do memories help round out your characters?