My scenes feel so flat!
I say that all the time… usually after I’ve been staring at one for too long. The pristine Idea that it began with is now sullied by my keyboard. It’s no good. It’s flat.
Is it not fun to write? Take a look at that scene again. What’s the worst possible thing that could happen? Try doing that, and then make the character work their way out of it.
Into the Spider-verse did this so well. In the early part of the movie, Miles’ hand sticks to Gwen’s hair and he cannot get it out. Everyone is laughing and staring. The girl he fancies has to shave part of her head. It is apocalyptic for him, and he has to deal with that, and it is wonderful.
Or, does it have to go down as planned? Then maybe it’s missing one of the big three: Action, Humor, or Heart.
Action doesn’t have to be a car chase. It can mean moving the plot in a meaningful way too, like Sherlock finding a new clue. Heavy exposition really benefits from a bit of visual noise. In the book Save the Cat, the example of the Pope in the Pool is used, where exposition is delivered while the pope is swimming. Because the idea is kind of outside our expectations, we find ourselves paying attention during otherwise boring scenes.
Humor can be funny, but it can also be sarcasm, or dark humor. I have a character chasing demons with her grandfather’s cane. One of the tennis balls falls off and alerts her hunter to her presence. It’s not quite funny, but it’s not the bloody death we expected, either. A little bit of levity helps those low blows we’re bound to deal hit a little harder.
And Heart – why do your characters care about this scene? Has anyone avoided talking about that recent tragic death? Why? Sounds like pain, and to paraphrase Joss Whedon: when Buffy’s in pain, people tune in.