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?