At the CO Writers conference, I took a class on 'Research: Making it authentic' taught by Carol Gorman . There were several items that really made an impact on me. Here they are:
1) Always keep your character in trouble or uncomfortable. Tension keeps the story interesting
2) When researching, try to experience things for yourself. Examples: walking through a haunted house, eating at a particular diner, roller skating.
3) Create chapter scripts-know what you want to accomplish in each chapter.
Ok, I was stuck on Chapter 4 of my first YA novel and hadn't worked on it for about 2 months. I decided to try this chapter scripting exercise and was blown away by its effectiveness. I'm sure we all write in different ways and if you're like me, this might work for you. I usually have a solid idea for my story and characters. I know the highlights, but let the details unfold as I write.
This exercise just helped me to document the movement of the story. As I wrote down the theme for each chapter, some new ideas popped in my head that help facilitate the pace of the story.
Here's an example.
Chapter 1: Lola crashes her dad's Mercedes
Chapter 2: While recovering in the hospital, Lola misses her prom
Chapter 3: Lola comes home, Dad tells her she needs to get a job to pay for the damages
Chapter 4: Lola searches for a summer job
Chapter 5: Lola finds a job at advertising firm
Chapter 6: Lola meets Todd the college intern.
Hope this helps, happy writing!!