There’s been some discussion going about my social media regarding villains. I don’t write villains. I’ve never written a villain (no, not even Ellie the Evil Queen is a villain).
Here’s why: a good villain isn’t a villain; they are the foil to your hero. A good villain, in another book, might be your hero.
I also don’t write sidekicks. Sidekicks have their own story going on. That story is every bit as important as the heroes story. Just don’t tell the hero. Sidekicks tend to be a lot lower on the ego scale than heroes.
Take a look at your WIP. If you’re writing a romance, you may not have a villain, but you’ll still have a foil to your main character. Look carefully at your villain/antagonist, love interest(s), and sidekicks.
- Do they have a backstory? It doesn’t need to be in the story, but you need to know a little bit about them.
- Do you know their personality type or motivations? If Myers-Briggs is too much, do a simple zodiac bit or a character archetype. Then do a little twist so the character isn’t just a stock character. (I hate stock characters.)
- If you’ve ever played at tabletop gaming, you probably know the D&D versions of characters. There’s race, class, and alignment to get you going. Race is the same for most non-fantasy/sf books, but what “class” is your character? What about alignment? (I like alignment best; it tells a lot about a character.) If you don’t know a thing about it, here’s some help. Or you can have fun with these memes.
All of this works for your main character, too, in case he or she feels too flat.
One last thing I have fun doing that only fantasy writers really seem to do is creating a genealogy chart. Must be the geek in me, but there’s something fun about knowing a little bit of a character’s backstory. Christopher, from Veneri Verbum and Beta Beware, is an only child of a single mother. I know what happened to Dad, but the rest of the world never will. Still, it affects who Christopher is. On the other hand, The Bobian (The Annals of Bobian) has a full-fledged family and is the only boy, stuffed in the middle. Yep, that affects his personality. Grandparents will have a role in later books.
So, look at your characters. How well-rounded are they? Could they use a little tweaking?