At the beginning of a story, it's important for a character to have some sort of external goal.
Does she want a promotion? To adopt a child? There needs to be something for the character to succeed or fail at during the course of the book.
Not rocket science but I still didn't get it until my third manuscript. In my first completed manuscript, the heroine rode on her train to an uncle's house. Things happened to her, she reacted, but there was nothing she was striving for. So why should the reader turn the page? Granted, the emotional intensity could be strong enough to propell a reader into finding out what happens next, but it's unlikely.
Give your character something to do and you give the reader a reason to keep reading.
So I made my heroine on a mission to get an interview with an elusive government agent who purportedly lives near her uncle. A simple goal but it hopefully makes the reader wonder, will she get what she wants?
To make your external goal stronger, create either something to urge your protag to reach his goals, or something to keep him from reaching his goals. A nice dose of external conflict.
I find coming up with an external goal incredibly hard, for some reason, but it's worth it.
Think about the books you've read. Did the protagonist have a goal introduced within the first chapter?