This is my newest writing trick. I'm working to bring a dry, bland manuscript to life, so as I go in to rewrite scenes, I'm trying to make every scene a double of something else (usually a big emotional theme in the book). So if there's an action scene, something in it has to double another scene or parallel an emotional theme. A conversation between friends? It too needs to have that doubleness to it - always external action that's relating to the internal drama. Because really, it's the slowly building internal, emotional action that makes us care about characters.
It's another way of saying that there is no unmotivated scene as a writer. No scene that's just there as a place holder or a way to fill space. No. Everything has to keep building up toward the climax. No plateaus. Not if you want a tension-filled, compelling book.
I think I did this more naturally with the first book. This one, I don't know. I think I was trying to keep it from being too dark and depressing or something. Or I was just kind of at a rough point emotionally in my own life. But all it really resulted in was me not digging into the characters. Emotional conflict is eternally compelling, ya can't get around it. Conflict is what makes stories.
Some writers are able to write funny books, light books that still have a driving conflict. Yeah. Not me. I gotta go for digging salt in the wounds. And then doubling it ;)