Brainstorm some passionate yearnings. Don't worry if they're cliche. It's the passion your character will bring to that yearning that will set it apart. (The yearning for a husband or wife has certainly fueled plenty of stories!)
After you're done brainstorming, pick your favorite yearnings then brainstorm some reasons why your character wants that. Make it personal and make them want it passionately.
Here's some examples if you're having trouble getting started:
- To protect a brother. Why? Younger or older? How and why is the brother in danger? What did he do? What events made the siblings especially close?
- To be the first to Mars. Why? To achieve something no one else has? Passionate love of Star Trek? Return home?
- To win the dragon riding tournament. Why? Why dragons? Why this particular tournament? To prove something to someone or self? To honor an ancestor or mentor? To prove something to the dragon(s)?
- To end the war. Why? Ancestral home is threatened? Brother is on the other side and it's only a matter of time before character will have to kill him? The cost to loved ones has been too high?
- To find peace and quiet. Why? Stressful life? Surrounded by grasping people? Surrounded by idiots?
- To regain family treasure. Why? Awaken inherited powers? Crush the power of the rival who stole it? Rebuild family that was destroyed?
Pick your very favorite. Brainstorm a list of 25 obstacles to place between the character and their yearning. (The first few that come out will probably be cliche. That's okay. Sometimes you need to run the tap first until the water is clear :-) The conflict can be personal (fear, being handicapped, family opposes) or external (aliens invade, it rains).
This could be the foundation for your NaNoWriMo project coming up in November. Choose one or a few of the yearnings and conflicts that feel like they could be in the same story. Put them together to see what happens.