Make 'Em Cry
Again, while doing rewrites, I've been struck by all the revelations coming my way. The most important being the following: I didn't reach deep enough the first time. I'd written on a surface level, setting scenes, relaying information that I thought had meaning, but it just hadn't sunk in past that outer layer. I know this, because last week when I was writing the new chapters, there were several stop and cry moments for something my character was going through. It wasn't about information or careful stringing of words anymore, it was deep.
So, I started to think about how as writers we really need to remember to give everything we have to our work. We need to figure out what our characters are most afraid to risk in their life, and then create that risk. We also need to remember that our characters have bodies—bodies which react in certain ways to every event they face. This tip came to me from a friend, and it has been quite effective in relating real feelings: if you can make a reader know that said character was so scared that her stomach felt like it was filled with acid, or her hands felt like they were turning into ice because the blood had drained from her body in fear, then you have most likely drawn the reader in past the surface level.
Don't be afraid to make your characters suffer. They're begging you for it. And, of course, don't be afraid to create situations that will make them crazy happy. You're audience is begging for that as well. Without these extremes, your fiction will lay stagnant forever. People will make assumptions—they will create their own ideas of how far your character thinks, feels, etc. Never leave room for assumptions. This ain't a Picasso painting, this is fiction.
Make 'em cry. Because if you can do that, you have reached every level—every facet possible in your character's psyche. Make 'em cry. You should, because they're you.