But this led me to wonder about how characters unwind. When your characters are in the thick of the action, what favourite memories of special places and people help motivate them to keep going and get through it all? I always loved the Rivendell sequences in The Lord of the Rings. (This for me is where the films were particularly fantastic, being able to visualise Rivendell like that). Just ahead of the quest, Frodo particularly needed that time there. So what do your characters need to prepare them for whatever hell you are going to put them through (all in the name of entertaining fiction of course!)?
Knowing what really makes your characters tick will enable you, as the writer, to know what will spur them on, what will discourage them, what is the right way to motivate them etc. A really well written villain in your stories will do exactly the same and tweak the strings of your lead like an evil puppetmaster. Result? A villain worthy of your hero/heroine. Drama. Conflict. Story, story, story! What's not to like about that?