How do your characters keep on top of what they must do? Or don’t they?! What are the consequences of either (a) being well organized or (b) unable to organize a party in a pub (ruder versions of that phrase are available!). Do the species in your world show differences here? Can one species’ incompetence provoke restlessness, even riots by other groups?
Motives for Writing
You must write for the love of it. It’ll be that which keeps you going during the periods of hopelessness and constant rejections. Also when you meet those who dismiss writers or at least dismiss what you write.
Ensure your typing position is correct. RSI is a pain in every sense.
See your novels as stages. The first stage is getting the initial ideas down on paper. Then comes the first edit, the second edit and so on. Don’t send out anywhere until you know you can’t do any further improvements to it. And do edit on paper. It’s easy to not see things on screen.
Listen to criticism carefully. Yes, you will get the negative, destructive stuff, everyone does. You will also get criticism that genuinely will help you improve your work. The clever bit is working out which is which but good criticism will open your eyes to new possibilities and/or confirm thoughts you may have had as to how strong/weak a piece is. See criticism as a tool. It is for you to use it to improve your work. It is not something to beat you up, no matter how much others might want it to be!
Read inside and out of your own genre. Get inspirations from many sources.
Building on Foundations
Every writer builds on what’s gone before. The trick is to put in your unique ingredient to add to the mix. Know where and when you can break the rules. For instance, it is widely known that fairies can be cruel and capricious. My ingredient is to get one fairy so fed up with that she defects.
How do your characters develop? Do they develop? Remember it doesn’t necessarily have to be for the better. Bad experiences can make characters bitter. That in turn can affect their relationships but that character is still developing. What does your character have to lose/gain from your tale? Is the stake high enough?How does your character cope with crises? Do they bring out the best or the worst? Are there enough crises in your story? After all something’s got to happen! Can you make use of your character’s memories to shape them? For instance, the Queen’s mother was murdered, obviously having a traumatic effect on the Queen and triggering her wish to keep her family close to her, no matter what it takes. Do your characters have friends? What do they think of the characters? Could friends be useful for subplots (though note these still have to move your tale along and shouldn’t be a distraction or a device to get your word count up)? Can the friends guide your characters as to which route they should take? And friends can get it wrong, just as much as the main characters can by themselves.