Three horses are grazing in a paddock: a brown horse, a black horse, and a grey one – which would you cheer for?
But wait… why cheer a horse that’s doing nothing but eat?
It’s a good point. So let’s say they spark into life and set off on a race across the paddock. Now it’s going to be a lot easier to cheer for one or the other. You might still need a good reason to pick the grey over the black, but at least they have a goal, they are in motion, and competing with each other so there are good reasons to cheer, or back one of the horses or at least pay attention to see who wins.
It’s the same in life. If a person has a goal, if they are trying to get somewhere, do something, achieve something, they become interesting. It’s hard to take an interest in the person who has no goal, nothing they need to get done.
And, as it is in life, so it is in fiction. If you’re writing any kind of story, your characters must have goals. Without goals, the reader won’t find the character interesting. They won’t have anyone to cheer for, and they won’t keep reading.
If you know your main character, and you know their goal, then you pretty much know your story.
Pic: Trotting Horse by Walraven