A little nugget of world-and-character-building wisdom from Mercedes Lackey who, in my not entirely humble opinion, ranks right up there with Philip Pullman and Susan Cooper as among the finest of Fantasy authors.
"I try to keep my world as solid and real as possible; people deal with
stubborn pumps, bugs in the porridge, and love-lives that refuse to
become untangled, right along with invading armies and evil magicians.
And I try to make all of my characters, even the ‘evil magicians,’
something more than flat stereotypes. Even evil magicians get up in the
night and look for cookies, sometimes." - Mercedes Lackey