I worked on two screenplays and two novels with private students today. In all four cases, the two biggest challenges for the writers were:
1) The stakes weren’t high enough.
2) The main character was too passive.
To solve these problems, I suggested that they ask themselves the first of The Four Magic Questions of Screenwriting:
What is the character’s dream?
In Up In The Air, the answer might be to get 10 million flyer miles.
In An Education, it might be: To find out what I really want from life.
Now try it for your main character and see what you get.
Good luck and happy writing.