Use speech appropriate for your characters. I make L’Evallier speak in a very formal way. He will never use abbreviations such as I’ll, it is always I will. The Queen, by contrast, generally speaks formally but when stressed lets some abbreviations leave her lips. This also confirms it is the Chief Elf who’s the real snob in the realm. Do your characters speak the same way to everyone they meet? They shouldn’t. We don’t. I love writing about Eileen mainly because she doesn’t have a problem with hypocrisy. This shows up in her dialogue. While Eileen is not formal at all, she speaks as formally as she is going to get with the Queen, attempts but fails to browbeat her daughter, and bosses everyone else, usually successfully but even there she is more wary with L’Evallier, partly as he is an ally, partly because she knows if anyone will tell her where to go it will be him.
Do your characters have habits? Traits they’re not conscious of but which others observe? Details like that add to your novel. Eileen has a reputation for eccentricity due to her name change, defection, and she wears seperates, not traditional fairy costume, all of which I’ve drip fed into the books.
Expect a long hard slog to publication. Don’t give up. If it comes to it, consider self publishing but don’t go down the vanity route - it will backfire. People in the industry know who these companies are and will avoid your work like the plague. Better to take a long time and get it right.
Go to the writing conferences. They’re good fun, you learn a lot and you may make useful contacts. And yes it can help make you feel like you are a “proper” writer, something the unpublished relish from time to time - or at least this one does.
Keep receipts for stationery etc. If you need to prove to the Inland Revenue, you are a writer, albeit part time, you need the evidence for it! Going to conferences backs this up too, as does subscribing to professional writing magazines.
If there’s a professional body relating to your genre, consider joining it.
Get an unbiased opinion on your work. Friends/family can’t help there but there are numerous editorial services available. Check out Writers and Artists Yearbook for listings. Most have websites giving further details of what they do.
Listen to audio books. Not only are they great fun (well they are if you listen to Pratchett ones!) but you can learn a lot about how words flow, how dialogue should sound to the ear and so on. And you can put them on whilst you’re working. It’s a bit difficult reading a book while cooking the dinner!
Read in and out of your current era. See how things used to be done - you may find a use for it, if only in wanting to craft an old-fashioned character and how they might speak. Think about how the things we take for granted would seem to anyone who’s not come across them before.
An angel is a messenger. Is there anyone playing that role in your work? How does information get passed on?
Research for Writers by Ann Hoffman is well worth having in your library as not only does it advise on how to research, it gives lists of website addresses and so on that may prove profitable to your work. On Writing by Stephen King is often recommended for beginner writers by the professionals - rightly, it is brilliant. Strongly recommend getting a copy. From Pitch to Publication by Carole Blake does everything it says in the title, which in itself is something to aim for in your work.
Have a sense of place in your work. It adds colour, depth and reality, can help your readers “see” what you see. People get defensive about places that are special to them - can you use that trait?