Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Since I'm spending a lot of energy today dodging people intent on pinching me (because of course I forgot to wear green), I'm too tired to keep up appearances. So I'm going to let you in on a little secret: sometimes I don't know why my characters do stuff.
I'm not talking: "This character's motivation is a little bit tricky for a paragraph or two." I'm talking: "Hey Character Lady, what on Earth do you think you're doing?"
I'll be trucking along, typing as fast as my fingers can go, and all of a sudden I'll realize that the scene I'm writing isn't the one I planned to write. My characters are doing things, saying things, behaving in ways that I don't necessarily remember thinking up. Sometimes when I type, things just happen. And usually, when I'm on a roll, I'll go with it. I figure I can always delete the scene later if I really can't make it fit into the story I thought I was writing.
The lucky thing is, if I'm able to put aside my worries, to dodge the "why on Earth are you doing that?" moment, and just let the scene happen, by the end -- of the scene, of the chapter, sometimes not until the end of the novel -- nine times out of ten, those random scenes will start to fit. My characters will figure things out for themselves, and the story will begin to make sense -- even if it never does turn into the story I thought I was writing.
I love that feeling when everything in a story starts to fall into place. I love it so much, I don't even mind that I'm the last to know.