Recently, I ran into some difficulty while working on a book that will come out in 2018. I found that, as is usual in my stories, I was using a lot of subtlety and nuance while painting the overall arc of the tale. That's good. I like subtlety and nuance. However -- sometimes subtlety and nuance, if that's all I use, become fancy terms for slow and boring. A book without them might be shallow, corny, predictable, or any number of other things that, for me, just aren't compelling enough to keep reading. But lack of definitive action is another thing. So how do I keep subtlety and nuance and still bate the reader's breath? The answer is to shake up the scene.
The primary way to shake up a scene is to ask the question, what can happen in this scene that the reader isn't expecting? For instance, I wrote a scene the other day in which I have a man and woman who live near each other walking home together. Per my plot outline, I knew they would have some conversation which would help them to get to know each other better while at the same time keeping each of their prospective secrets intact. They would start to feel like deeper friends and begin to struggle with guilt over keeping those individual secrets. Okay. Good. Got it. But stepping back, I realized it was a very nuanced type of scene. Little things like hints and secrets, while very cool and emotionally triggering, were happening. Still, I felt while writing this scene, that it was too "soft" a scene on top of a previous soft scene. I wasn't certain it offered enough to make the reader really care or compel them to read the next chapter.
Then out of the blue, an idea struck to shake that scene up. I asked, what is the reader not expecting? What am I not expecting? And voilà! Another fellow acquainted with both characters happened along, all full of vim and vigor, stirred the pot, and asked the woman out, right there in front of that other fellow. (You get this is a romance, right?) This little shake up lifted those nuances I had been writing to another level. On an aside -- I had known I wanted to use this third character in a way like that earlier, but I just hadn't seen it happening right there, until I asked that question about how I could shake up that scene.
Try it and see. Causing a little shake up in a scene now and then will revitalize your drive while you're penning your novel, and the end result will be to give the reader the emotional ride they're looking for.