There is this long (like 130,000 words) story I've been working on for a while. Its a space opera.
I know, incredibly silly.
At least that's how it began. My method was to take every ridiculous thing from every space story I've ever seen/read and compress them into one place. It turned out awesome, no sarcasm at all. I love it.
And since I loved it, I kept working and refining, writing back story, etc. Suddenly, though, it wasn't silly anymore. It kind of turned into a interplanetary geopolitical military drama. Though there are still some silly bits, its now quite heavy.
And yesterday, as I was thinking about my main character, I realized something astonishing: he is autistic. High functioning, but definitely on the spectrum. He is a mathematic savant, required structure in his life, has difficulty with personal relationships and expressing his feelings, and when faced with emotional trauma reacts by either shutting down or lashing out in unpredictable ways.
This changes my whole view of him, the story and his relationship with the main female character (who is the queen of the solar system; like I said, still somewhat silly.) I have experience working with children on the autism spectrum, but not enough to do it justice I think. autism is a fascinating way of thinking, a truly different view of life. Next step: go research autism spectrum disorders!
Moral of the post: allow your characters to be themselves. Many times they become something even more interesting than you could think of originally.
Now, the Muffin is trying to climb my leg, so I should go. :)