- Know your characters. It sounds so simple but it really does work. Get to know them well, before you start writing. Give them a full profile, note down everything you can about them from their shoe size to their hair colour. When you start writing you'll be surprised just how useful these notes become.
- Expand your characters. As we live we make mistakes, we learn, we grow... yes it's true. Your characters should develope in the same way that real people do. Think about how people react to bad news, how disasters change them, how good news makes them feel etc. For example - if a family home is destroyed by fire in your story, think about what your characters would feel about the loss of the building, their home, their personal belongings; in particular the sentimental items that cannot be replaced. This is especially important if the fire was not part of the original plotline, or at whatever stage you first thought about your characters. Golden rule - if you alter your plotline remember to focus on what this means to your central characters, how this could affect their personality or outlook on the world.
- Commit your characters to memory. Throughout your novel writing process skip back to your character notes and refresh your memory. Even if your characters are living in your head and you think you know them better than the real people around you, just re-read and perhaps update your notes. It pays to be efficient with these things; you never know when they may come in useful.
- Observe. Generally speaking, writers tend to be good observers of real life, people, places, colours, scents, tastes. The next time you're in the waiting room, dreading the call to the dentist's surgery, watch the other people around you. It's incrediable just how much is availble to inspire your literary skills, if you only open your eyes. Of course I'm not suggesting you stare at people, or write about real people in detail; but you could mingle a mannerism of one person with the unique hairstyle of another and so forth... you get the idea!