As I draft Book 4, I am finding new dimensions to the characters in the story. These are the same characters from Book 3 and several are from Books 1 and 2, and yet as I explore the characters, I am finding new things about them.
That's a really good thing because I want the characters to surprise me and the reader. That will keep them fresh. And it is really easy to do. I just have the characters interact in ways they have not before.
For example, Iriel, the elf, knows the basics of magic. I establish this in Book 1. But she is not a wizard and does not cast spells. However, she is beginning to explore that part of herself in Book 4 and is using Brashani, the fire mage, as her teacher.
Now Brashani has not interacted with Iriel much. So now I get to explore that pairing and built a relationship between them. Moreover, I can explain why Iriel is not a wizard as part of her whole unfortunate background. Her mother abandoned her at a very young age and she was not encouraged to explore her potential -- a result of her father's grief at the lose of his wife.
However, Iriel falls in love with a bard, James, in Book 1 and his central philosophy is to learn new things. This rubs off on Iriel so that eventually she begins to explore her potential and the opportunities she has.
I love the way that plays because it mirrors life. And while she is learning magic, life has other plans for her -- which also mirrors life. And this -- in a nutshell -- is what I'm doing now in Book 4, 16,000 words into the novel. The characters are exploring new aspects of their lives by learning things or exploring a relationship or perhaps planning for the future and somewhere in the middle of that, life -- in the form of the plot -- interrupts and forces them to deal with events in front of them. This causes them to react and will creates new things to explore and planning after the crisis is past.
And that's how life has been for me over the last few years. So I thought I'd do the same to my characters. No rocket science here. Just touch of realism to help the reader suspend his or her disbelief.
And it is something you can try at home. So keep writing.