Stepping back to take the broader view of my story has revealed things I never expected. I backed up to try and find my way around a couple troublesome spots, but in the process unearthed some important motivations for two of the main characters. Some of this existed in very vague form previously, but now I see how I need to crystallize those elements, bring them out clearly for the story to make sense.
I’ve come to these realizations while filling out a character worksheet that one of my critique group partners passed along. To be honest, I haven’t been a huge fan of those types of things before–sometimes it just feels a little too much like “follow step 1, 2 and 3 to a great novel!”–but these questions were definitely worthwhile. Since I don’t recall the exact source, I’m not going to post the whole list, but here’s a couple that have already strengthened my novel tremendously!
What is he afraid of? (I knew part of this, but discovered an entirely new fear that dove-tails nicely with the plot of the novel)
What polarizing events are in his childhood?
What is the inciting incident which starts the story in motion FOR HIM?
I’ve filled out the whole sheet for the protagonist and am starting on the primary “villain.” I’m really excited about the changes that I’ve got to make in the novel now!