I've been reading a lot recently on another forum about overall goals that characters have that drives the story, one goal that influences everything they do in the novel. I've looked at some of the books on my shelf, and while some characters have clear goals (CJ Sansom's Shardlake wants to solve the mysteries), others don't really have one single one that I can pin down, other than a generic 'will to survive', 'living their life' type thing. I read mostly historical fiction and some of my books span several years, occasionally the character's whole life, and maybe that's why? An example, The Other Boleyn Girl (not really a book that I like, but it's probably the one that more people will know), Mary has several goals throughout the novel, but not one massive one that underpins everything. Unless it's her rivalry with Anne, but that doesn't seem to be a driving factor for a lot of her actions in the book. Tess of the d'Urbervilles is another one that's got me confused. The reason I'm talking about this is I don't think my character has a clear goal at the beginning of the story, except to start her new life with her aunt and hope nobody finds out her secret (her son is illegitimate). I'm having trouble developing this character at the moment and getting inside her head, and I was thinking that perhaps this is one reason why. But I don't see how to give her an ultimate goal at the beginning of the book that ties in with the plot that develops later. Does a character have to have one defining goal that drives them through a novel?