This was the most recent piece of advice I received from an agent:
"Stuff needs to be happening."
It was in response to my first 100 pages, where I thought things were happening even though to an outside reader, they weren't.
So on Friday, I went through some novels and took notes.
How to Make Stuff Happen:
-This tip came from Laura: make scene cards (one card per scene) that lists a quick summary of the scene, the characters in it, and how it's moving the plot forward.
-In one of the books I went through, exposition didn't begin until the second or third chapter. When it did, it always related back to what was happening in the present.
-A character's subplots can be woven in through a single event (ex. She is having trouble with a co-worker and her marriage and deals with both at a work party)
-Conflict also comes in levels. There are overarching conflicts but each scene should have a mini conflict related to that larger one.
-Alluding to a secret keeps a reader interest
-Society can be as big of a character as anyone. It can provide pressure, expectations, and development.
How do you make sure things are happening in your work?