Two writers posted recently on making sure to address our characters' deeper needs, not just the external conflict in a story:
Laurel at Laurel's Leaves:
"The story-worthy problem adds emotional stakes to your work, so that
what happens to your characters and the decisions they make actually
changes them deeply."
Laurie Halse Anderson at Madwoman in the Forest: "It’s pretty hard, if not impossible, to complete a novel without knowing what your character wants out of her life."
encourage you to click over and read the posts. This concept is
something I definitely pay attention to. I usually don't know my
character's deeper needs or emotional quest early in the drafting
process; something is driving him or her, but it takes me a while to
recognize it. Once I know that deeper need, it becomes much easier to
know where the story should peak, where it should end, which scenes
truly belong, and how the subplots can link in to the main plot.
Also, for your amusement, check out Melinda Cordell's "Why I Haven't Written Anything" at The Storyteller's Inkpot. A sample:
"Distraction: Then write a bunch of random Tweets about your chickens!
Me: No, I need to stay off the internet and use my time constructively.
Distraction: Ha ha! Now that's funny!"
definitely encourage reading the whole thing, because it gets into the
critical voices in our heads, and the ways they can sabotage us, but
it's funny, too.