Browsing this and several other forums, I've noticed that many people restrict themselves to basic character building. That is, they give their characters interests, appearances, and a history, and that's great. You need those things. However, I rarely notice anyone discuss certain important personality details, such as the way a character thinks, and what kinds of things they say. It's easy to show that a sympathetic character is sympathetic by having him or her comfort someone else. It's easy to have that character give coins to orphans. It's harder to get the subtle things right. How do they carry themselves? Studies show that charitable people usually walk unbowed, with their head up and shoulders pulled back, but they aren't threatening. They're confident- confident enough to be charitable. How do they speak? You could have them say "Don't do that." Or, they could say "Please, stop." There's a huge difference. For example, one character might say "If you do that, you could wind up in prison." Another might say "Don't do that, I couldn't bear if anything happened to you." A third might say "Eh. Do what you want." A fourth might say "Don't do that, it's wrong." Person one is concerned with function and consequences. Person two is caring and emotional. Person three doesn't care. Person four has clear, absolute moral boundaries. There are clear differences in personality in all variations. When creating characters, it's important that you not only consider their interests and history, but that you also craft their personality by getting inside a character's head for every single line that they say. Even the complexity of words a character uses, for example, can indicate their level of education, or the amount of stress they're under. Short, blunt sentences might indicate high stress, for example. Then, you have to consider when a character gets stressed- you have to decide when you should modify their voice however you choose to represent stress. Does a character become stressed under little pressure? When they're around people? Are they always calm? Do some characters get angry under pressure? Frightened? Confused? Between people that I know, there are all kinds of small variations in the things that they say that somehow reflect their personality. They don't think about it- their personality shapes everything they do without extra thought or deliberation on their part. The same consistency should hold true in fiction, but it takes a lot of work on the author's part. There's a big difference between a person saying "I love you," and a person saying "I care about you", or even asking "Do you love me?" All are somewhat similar. They're all intimate in nature, and might be used (all too often, interchangeably) to advance a romantic subplot. But each one alludes to a different personality, and it's important to not simply use similar terms just because they get the point across. To create a great character, you need to pay attention to every action and word, and write what a given character would actually say. Person one is more confident. Person two is cautious. Person three may even be fearful of the answer. It's easy to just wing conversations and put in functional words, but truly great characters come from the little things. And then there are throwaway actions. Little things that you need to move the plot forward. Want to get a secondary character out of a house so the protagonist can be alone? The secondary character might decide to go visit a friend. He might visit a museum. He might go to a bar to get drunk. How long does he plan to be gone? If he's responible, maybe he gave an estimate when he'd be back. If he's more of a rogue, he probably didn't. Often times, little things like that get overlooked, and the author just fills in the first event that enters their head without thinking about it. But it's important for good writing to carefully consider the little things- over time, they add up to be phenominal. Choosing your throwaway lines and explanations may not seem to have much difference individually, but long term, putting in the extra effort can make a world come to life. Of course, many of the details you can save for a later draft. The rough draft should simply be about getting the story on paper. I actually find it easier to just write roughly before going back and analyzing the details at a later date without having to worry about actually writing the story as I go. That's just my 2 cents, anyway. I hope it's good advice.