Recently, I read an article in a newsletter that said to create compelling characters you have to know them inside and out. You have to know and understand what makes them do the things that they do.
To do this they suggested:
-know your characters' history: where they were born, schools attended, first loves, etc.
-go beyond basics
-endear your characters to the readers
-dig deep to uncover motivations: how do your characters see the world
I thought the article was interesting and straight forward. I've had editors tell me the exact opposite of this article. This article tells you not to throw magic into a story just to make it different, not to mish-mash things just because...but I've had editors point me in the exact opposite direction because...well, ordinary is ordinary and not interesting.
I read books across many genres: paranormal, science fiction, women's fiction, and they all manage to keep me interested for different reasons. Of course, like so many people, I have my favs :-)
No matter the genre, if there is something unnecessary there, it pulls me out of the story. I did like Elvis occasionally appearing in the Sookie Stackhouse series, but I've read far more books that tried to add quirks to make the story interesting and it didn't work.
What do you think?
What have been some of the most unique things you've read in stories that did or didn't work?