Can you see your characters acting out what they’re going through? Do your characters learn from what they go through? Do you have a nice range of characters? In any society, you get all ages, all backgrounds. Give them emotional depth - and remember experiences can make folk bitter as well as courageous. Jenny, for example, as I write at the moment is at loggerheads with her mother and is likely to remain that way for some time until Eileen shows some contrition or Jenny decides to let her grudge go at Eileen for dropping her right in it.
Character versus plot? Plot versus character? It’s like trying to decide whether you need oxygen or food. You need both. Both need to be well thought out. Eileen’s awkwardness helps drive her plot as she makes life damned difficult for herself but she also needs a story to set up those difficulties for her to try and resolve.
Look at motives. Not only can story ideas come from these, they can add emotional depth. Eileen’s chief motive is to stay on earth with her family and never to resume her old life. It colours her attitude, fuels her behaviour and sets up clashes with the Fairy Queen. Are the motives for your characters strong enough? Overwhelm your characters with problems - you get your story from how they cope.
One great thing about writing is you appreciate reading more. As well as enjoying the story, you can appreciate the writer’s skill, you can spot the apt turn of phrase and perhaps ponder if it took them as long to come up with it as it does for you when finding the right words! Also you should read more as a writer to inspire your own writing and sometimes to see what not to do, so what is there not to like about this! You like words, you have to read, better get on and do it then!
Nothing on the telly? Good! Settle down and see what you can come up with! I’ve been known to go through the Radio Times and spot nothing worth watching and think “good, should get loads of writing done then”!! Plus the BBC have the Writers’ Room website, full of tips and interesting interviews. They issue a newsletter to subscribers (it’s free). There are job opportunities listed. And every so often Radio will have slots for stories to be sent in…
Grudges cast long shadows. Things from the past affecting today form the basis of many a great story. Anything you can use here? And bear in mind that a character’s development takes time. Eileen has become awkward because she has become fed up with being “used”. The Witch wants to take the Kingdom to avenge slights, real and imagined, on her family by the fairy royals. The Witch “forgets” her own family attacked the royals, naturally the royals were going to fight back.
Have your characters got enough to play for? Their ambition has got to be strong enough. It’s no good just wishing for something to happen. Have they the means, or the ability to find the means, to achieve t hem? What will they do to achieve them? Have they got limits? Can they see to the end of the road? Do they know where they want to end up?
Does your setting have a history, which may well affect your characters? The Fairy Kingdom has a history of wars between witches, wizards and fairies, leading to barren areas, which in turn is leading to overpopulation in certain parts of the realm. This led to Eileen suggesting the more responsible magical beings living, in disguise, on other worlds. She got shouted down yet she knows this issue won’t just go away no matter how much the Queen and Council try to ignore it. Has your world got issues it needs to face? What is its system of government? If your world seems real to you, it should seem real to your readers. And every world has to be run by someone - someone with a past, character traits that can benefit the realm/cause it great problems. There’s got to be some great stories in that!