Here's another little tool for your writer's toolbox; a friend of mine had read my novel and we met at a cafe to discuss it. After some constructive overall feedback, we started to talk about the characters, their wants and needs and what pulls them toward and away from their goal. My friend grabbed a free postcard off a rack and did a little doodle on the back. It looked like this:
We made a postcard for each character (I made a very ambitious mistake of having no less than five main characters for my first novel) noting their goal in life (upper right), and what - or who - pushes them towards that goal (top) or pulls them away from it (bottom). The postcards work great as a visual reminder, and it helps to focus the conflicts in the story. And build conflict!
And that, my friends, is what storytelling is all about.
Thanks to Richard Georg Engström for this visual aide.