Characters are real people.
I know at first glance it would seem ridiculous for a character to be real, but they are and I can prove it.
Reality is subjective by nature. It does not rely on any truth greater than “because I said so” to exist. The experiences, memories, sensations, and meanings of existence to you are interpreted, scientifically, by an unseeing, unfeeling piece of mush protected by your skull.
If we are real because we say we are, why would our characters not be real as well? They have dreams and desires, they think and feel, they fall in love and have their hearts broken, these are all the same things that make us who we are in our existence. Just because we see them and “dictate” their actions onto the page does not remove the concept of their being real. Arguably, anyone that believes in fate could say they are simply characters in some great author’s prose.
Personally, when I write, I don’t call it dictation. I prefer to think of it as observing my characters as they work through the scenario. I’ve often wondered if the reason why authors write, rewrite, edit, and revise is not because of lack of definition in their work, but alternatively because what is on the page doesn’t reflect what they witnessed. Every published author will tell you that their favorite character is real to them.
Take the time to get to know your characters and let them share the details with you, and your readers, because ultimately, given enough time with anyone, they will divulge everything and your story will be better for it!