Why do your characters do what they do? Characters must be motivated, have reasons for believing, thinking and behaving as they do.
Behind the motivation, there is always a goal. There should be absolutely no question in the reader’s mind about what the character is trying to achieve.
Often characters are motivated by less than large motives. While not wanting to die or choosing right over wrong are real motivators, less grandiose motivations are part of personality structures and can bring your characters to life. Perhaps a motivation appears to be minor, a desire to “fit” in or a desire to win. A character motivation to find romance could perhaps better be described as a motivation to feel connected.
Not sure if your characters are motivated and have goals? Ask yourself if the reader could clearly explain the motivation without asking the writer. Readers should be able to easily site a character’s motivations for his or her actions.
If your novel falls short on motivation, consider either adding motivation or cutting the scene. Remember that motivation must be authentic and present in every scene, not simply a summary for the reader. The motivation must sound like it is truly coming from the character and and not written to simply relate a scene.