From the time I left my driveway this morning until I was nearly at work, I wanted. I wanted a different song on the radio. I wanted more coffee and I wanted more bagel. I wanted a particular client to call me back when I got to the office. As I slowly became aware of the pattern of my thoughts, I realized that it was a constant stream of motivations driven by the words, "I want..."
How does a good author portray to the reader what it is that a character wants? There are the major motivations, for sure. A reader wants to see the character's need for acceptance, the desire to be successful, or even the carnal want for food or sex. But does the writer also need to portray the subtle stream of motivations that can occupy a character's thoughts? How does an author build the character so that the reader can connect the dots without reading verbatim the stream of consciousness related to these minor motivations?
Read a favorite passage again. Can you fill in the character's mental tracks using the information that the author gave you? This is a writing skill that makes one character more engaging or believable than another.