I love getting under the skin of a character for the first time, seeing how they think, how they react, what private thoughts they have, even where they are ticklish. I know Fantasy is meant to be about huge magical explosions, dark, mysterious thoughts, and rooms lit only with candle light and strange blue auras, but actually, I am far more interested in how the people wrapped up in the world think when they cut their finger, go for a piss, see a girl/boy/dragon that they fancy, or celebrate the big five-oh-oh!
It is pretty common for any of us to be accused of taking life too seriously sometimes. Well the same can be true or our stories and especially our characters. Sometimes people can be just plain silly and that applies whether they are a little girl, a teenage bloke, a mass murderer or a Methodist. All right, maybe not always the last one, but most people, okay?
The question for the author is are they brave enough to allow their characters to be people?
Developing great characters is the most difficult part of writing, in my mind, and is one of those things that both agents and publishers latch onto quickly. It is inconsistent, though, and I have had agents say "Your characters are weak," and "At least the characters are really strong," all about the same characters!
So, ignoring agents entirely, here are my thoughts on not how you write about your characters, but how you find them in the first place.
Whatever the publicists tell you, writing should always be primarily selfish - if you are not writing for yourself, then what is the point?
Part of my fun is letting myself fall into the trap of a sub-plot or an aside; a little journey away from the main thrust.
As a bloke, unless I decide to write a book exclusively about men, I have to write female characters. But sometimes men are criticized for not really understanding what a woman is, let alone being able to get to the depths of the character.
Is this fair? Can a man write a convincing female lead?