I've been on a roll recently, going through the back episodes of Writing Excuses and applying their advice to my latest outline.This episode is one of my new favorites:http://www.writingexcuses.com/2011/10/02/writing-excuses-6-18-hollywood-formula/
If you are seeing the word formula and rolling your eyes, hold on to your skepticism.It is not quite as exacting as a2 + b2 = c2 but the case it makes for character roles and pacing are very good. You can break the formula, (and they list a few successful things that do) but knowing it can help tighten your story a lot.
One of the main points I took out of this was dissecting my characters role in the story.In the piece I am working on now I have set up about five major characters.My protagonist is easy to identify, I am telling the story in a limited third person through her eyes.My antagonist is not my villain, it is one of the character who is closest to the protagonist and a generally good person.My relationship character is someone who will probably be identified as a villain. My villains, while they are driving the plot, are not important to the underlying story I am telling.
An example of the three character dynamics in Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold the protagonist is Cordelia Naismith.The book is about her actions and written from her view.The Antagonist is the main male lead, Aral Vorkosigan and *spoiler* her eventual husband.The plot is about a coup and a war but the story is about loving someone so completely that you make a sacrifice for the relationship and the way that love changes us.The relationship character is harder to identify.This was originally written as two books. Bothari the tortured batman of Aral's is the relationship character of the first book but I feel that the second half, where the love theme changes from romantic love to maternal love, that Princess Kareen shows the theme of the story.