I’ve made a comment about having goals for yourself.
But guess what?
Your characters need a reason to keep going too!
I know, silly, right?
But it’s not. Characters are individuals. They have a life- even if it never appears on the page. They have directions, thoughts, feelings, responses just like a normal human (or kinda sorta human).
If you want to get a character from point a to point b, you need a why. Why are they following the path offered? The how becomes easy if you just know the why.
That’s motivation. What is motivating the character to follow the plot?
Dragging or forcing characters along a route won’t make a strong story. Strong arming characters should create resentment, so realize the implications of doing so. No one wants to be fully controlled.
Giving your character goals and motivations will automatically improve them as characters. They will become more human (human like).
Every single character needs a reason to be in your story and helping the plot/mc/villian/etc.
What is it?
Answering the question about every named character will help you move forward when blocked. Because it gives the why. And the why has a tendency to create a how.
Any character who doesn’t have a clear motivation probably needs to be removed as a named character. Cutting characters isn’t bad for the story. You aren’t here to make everyone happy. You’re here to create a good story. If a character doesn’t have a reason to fight, cut them from the scene. Or give them a reason- even if it’s not on screen.