Every writer builds on what’s gone before. The trick is to put in your unique ingredient to add to the mix. Know where and when you can break the rules. For instance, it is widely known that fairies can be cruel and capricious. My ingredient is to get one fairy so fed up with that she defects and shocks her entire world. If you're going to rock the boat, make it really worth doing!
How do your characters develop? Do they develop? Remember it doesn’t necessarily have to be for the better. Bad experiences can make characters bitter. That in turn can affect their relationships but that character is still developing.
What does your character have to lose/gain from your tale? Is the stake high enough? How does your character cope with crises? Do they bring out the best or the worst? Are there enough crises in your story? After all something’s got to happen!
Can you make use of your character’s memories to shape them? For instance, the Queen’s mother was murdered, obviously having a traumatic effect on the Queen and triggering her wish to keep her family close to her, no matter what it takes.
Do your characters have friends? What do they think of the characters? Could friends be useful for subplots (though note these still have to move your tale along and shouldn’t be a distraction or a device to get your word count up)? Can the friends guide your characters as to which route they should take? And friends can get it wrong, just as much as the main characters can by themselves. I think the best fantasy friend is Sam Gamgee (closely followed by Ron Weasley/Hermione Granger)
Do your characters have depth to them? Do they fall in love, hold grudges, take revenge? Do they develop say from wanting revenge to finding revenge wasn’t as satisfactory as they thought it might be? Can you see why your characters act the way they do?
Reasons for Villainy
Do you show why your characters are villainous? Is the reason good enough to keep the villainy going or can it be overcome?
How Things Are Run
Do you show how your world works? What’s the system of government? Are there those who resent the way things are run?
Keep your writing tight. No unnecessary adjectives etc. Can you justify every word you write? Tight writing leads to a good, quick pace and easy reading. Less tight can lead to a more flowing style, which could be appropriate for the pieces in between the moments of high drama. Don’t let such less tight writing go on for too long. You want to use it to serve you, not to unwittingly bring in a “boring” bit (it will seem boring if the slower flow drags on).
Picturing Your Characters
Can you picture your characters? I don’t have character biographies, though I can see the point of drawing them up, but I can see the type of being that L’Evallier is for example in my mind’s eye and it makes writing for that character a lot easier.