Before you get engrossed with your protagonist’s suffering and your antagonist’s festering, find out what time it is in your storyline.
To keep characters straight and learn the in-depth motivations of your main character, create a family tree. Not just a few answers to biographical questions about the protagonist’s parents and in-laws, but put in the effort to go back numerous generations.
Perhaps your vixen is a descendant of an outcast religious fanatic, or maybe her line of ancestry stems from beggars and thieves who didn’t make a name for themselves until they started a bootlegging business during the prohibition years.
Just as your grandmother emphasizes every holiday, the more you know about your family history, the greater you understand and appreciate where your present day personae. Your emotions become grounded. Now you know why you hate condescension, after all, one of your ancestors was a king. You appreciate your financial status, since two generations ago your family had no clue who to read or write. You respect your body because you are the first person in your genetic pool to survive cancer.
Write a timeline for all major events that occur in your protagonist’s live, even if you don’t mention that he knocked his baby teeth out when he fell off the porch on his wooden pony. Carry the timeline to the end of the story.
Go back and include the major events of your minor characters and antagonist. How old were they when your dear protagonist was living on the streets, planning how to revamp the twitter industry to become wealthy.
Incorporate character development into the story structure timeline. When does your protagonist realize he is insecure and shouldn’t abuse lizards? Even if he doesn’t mentally debate the issue, remind yourself of the point in your story when your protagonist has a critical change in his opinions and interpretation of events.
This is the time to realize if your timeline doesn’t evolve into a full world of tension and exoneration. Possibly, your minor characters won’t take shape. They won’t have opinions of serious events from their past that shaped their personalities. Your protagonist could be a shallow flake who merely reacts to catastrophes without revealing her vulnerable side, her fears and hopes and dreams. You might realize your story isn’t ready to be formed on paper: another excellent reason to draft that timeline before delving into writing your scenes.