Characters do all kinds of things in fiction. Their actions make up the stories we write, and if they did nothing…it’d be pretty boring.
But how much motivation should there be in what they do? Do you, as the author, need to always know why they’re doing it, or can they just “do something for doing it”?
Let’s take a look at a scene and see how it works.
She walked over to the glass. On the other side was a habitat, all sand and rocks with only a few scaly plants, the surface of their stems mirroring that of the creature who should’ve been inside.
Slowly, she touched the glass. Her hand stayed there for a long moment, not moving, in firm but gentle contact against the clear silica-based partition until it slowly began to warm to her touch.
Then she backed away.
Now, we, as readers, don’t need to know why she touched the glass at this point in the story. It can be something we’re left to speculate about, wondering if she misses the creature or if she is trying to see whether, perhaps, it’s still hiding somewhere in there. Or we could later learn that she touches the glass out of solidarity with the creature, feeling like her own life is encased in glass and she longs to break free, to escape like the lizard or snake did.
Keep reading via Character Actions: Should There Be a Reason Why?