I am writing fantasy.
When I look up "what authors should know about their characters" I get advice like "know what you character fears", "know your character's central motivation", "know your character's worldview" etc.
However, when I actually think about the characters from fantasy fictions I enjoyed, I don't really find myself all that interested in those questions. In fact, the characters don't even make that strong of an impression on me.
Examples of things I like and what I thought about their characters:
- Name of the Wind: the protagonist is a goodie-two-shoes f***boy who has generic tragic backstory and likes women, but his adventures through the world is cool and I am intrigued when he interacts with the magic system.
- Worm (web serial): the protagonist is a generic "not-like-other-girl" with a weak affinity towards conventional morality, but it's captivating to watch her fight her enemies using her apparently mediocre powers or her surprising diplomatic genius.
- Wizard of Earthsea: the protagonist just wants to learn magic, and after his fall-from-grace moment he just wanted to fight off the monster chasing him. It's fun watching him interacting with his world and its magic, but I have no memory of what his personality is like, and I had no awareness of his character development while reading the story itself.
- Harry Potter (series) I actually don't recall anything about the titular character besides his generic tragic backstory. He does not seem to have any motivation besides trying to solve his immediate problems. He might not have done anything story-worthy had his problems not been forcefully thrusted upon him.
In summary: while I have very little interest in the characters themselves, I nevertheless enjoyed their respective stories, mostly because their settings are interesting and/or because the characters solved their problems in interesting ways.
With that in mind, I wonder if it is actually important to know things like "a character's worldview" or their "greatest, subconscious fears and desires", when such things are never realized in the writing in a memorable way. What's going on? Am I just too much of a psychopath to notice those character's inner thoughts, or are things like the appearance/superficial gimmicks of the characters actually more important?