aka, stop writing as if you're watching a film!
I've noticed a number of posts come up on here and the critiques board, where the story is written as if we're just watching a film. Somehow characters telling us that they are upset, angry, there are wars, there is danger, is supposed to convey a sense of drama and tension.
The one thing a novel can do that a film cannot is get us deep into a characters thoughts - present their motivations, fears, hopes, aspirations. How they deal with any individual situation.
Tension comes not from telling us that things are happening, or talking about that things are happening, but instead from the characters internal reaction to what is happening.
This applies regardless as to whether you are writing in a limited or omniscient POV.
The temptation to write as if watching a film I think comes from watching films, rather than reading books, and is a common mistake.
I've done it myself - I put up a piece for critique years ago, and the best feedback I got was exactly the point I am making now - that all the tension and conflict you want to drive your readers to plough through the story comes from sharing in the character experience, not from simply watching them from afar.
I appreciate I am neither published nor an expert, but I feel this is a profound insight that - once realised - can only make a writer write better.
If you are writing, pick up any modern novels that are in a similar genre to your own work, and read for yourself. Keep aware of the points that draw you in, and how the author does this.
Primarily, the story will be character driven, and even where the story is written in an omniscient POV, you will almost certainly find the tension within the story is shown by contrasting character thoughts with one another to set up conflict.
I'll provide a simple example with a book I've just started now, "The Heroes" by Joe Abercrombie, written in third person limited.
The scene involves telling that a man, an experienced northern warrior, is carefully approaching a small enemy encampment. It would be easy to wax lyrical about the landscape, the moon, the "thick shadows", and similar laboured descriptions - or even throw in a few superficial POV sentences such as "his heart pounded in his ears" and similar. It would be even easier to just info dump about what's going on.
Here's how Joe actually writes it:
He found his way through a gap in the tumble-down wall, heart banging like a joiner's mallet. From the long climb up the steep slope, and the wild grass clutching at his boots, and the bullying wind trying to bundle him over. But mostly, if he was honest, from the fear he'd end up getting killed at the top. He'd never laid claim to being a brave man and he'd only got more cowardly with age, Strange thing, that - the fewer years you have to lose the more you fear the losing of 'em. Maybe a man just gets a stock of courage when he's born, and wears it down each scrape he gets into.
The character experience is what distinguishes a novel from a film and any other media. As a writer, it's important to be aware of that, and use it as best fits your art. Because if you are not writing character experience in any way, the danger is that you have nothing more than a padded film script.
Simply a little piece of feedback I wanted to share, because it feels like too many people recently are missing this general point.
Of course, I could be wrong, in which case I am happy to be corrected.