Last night while sharing chai with some writerly-type-friends, I went on and on about the short story I'm working on. They liked the rough outline for the story, but I lost them as I described the main characters. I'll admit it, these characters are an annoying and pathetic lot and only one or two of them grow and change. Worst of all, I didn't have a good reason for what I was doing. I could articulate what happened, what the characters did, but I still wasn't clued into their motivations. The conversation moved on, thank goodness, and though I pretended to be interested in what was said next, I was actually trying to figure out the what was wrong with my story and how I presented it.
Here's what I came up with -- it wasn't just a character problem, it was a theme problem. I wasn't paying enough attention to the story. If I had, I would have been able to articulate both character motivation and story theme. They were right there. The theme was expressed through the actions and development of the characters and vice versa. Doh!
My story is about how sense of self and self-worth should come from within. Each of my main characters feels good about herself because she feels superior to the other. They stay together because neither can imagine herself without the other to cast back her negative reflection. One of the characters will grow and change, the other won't.
I don't know, does that make them sound more interesting?