Is every moment in a book supposed to be crammed with incident? I understand the allure of car chases or teetering on rooftops or jumping out of planes, but can't these poor characters sit down for a minute?
I seem to get two diametrically opposed messages coming at me from 'how-to' books or other writers. The first message is the book must be crammed with action, action, action. If people are having a conversation then they must have it while they're driving somewhere or while they're hiding from the bad guy or a similar situation. The second message is no, let them take a breath. Exposition is good. Describe that meadow, that oak tree. Let the reader hear the birds or appreciate the cat sunning himself on the porch.
What's a writer to do?
In my current WIP I seem to be traveling on a path somewhere between the two extremes. I'm not writing a thriller so no one in my book is diving in shark-infested waters or saving the world from a nuclear attack. My story takes place in the very civilized world of dressing for dinner and afternoon walks along the river. People roll up the carpet and dance to phonograph records on the gramophone. Even after the murder occurs, my characters still live in this rather highly-polished world; although it has been somewhat knocked askew.
I like books where everyone enjoys a glass of iced tea; or Aunt Mabel's famous chicken once in a while. Real life isn't fraught with peril every minute; there is time to eat breakfast or walk the dog. You may be saving the world, but did you remember to buy milk?
Real people get hungry; so should characters. Real people can only go so long without sleep; so should characters. For me, the more real the characters, the more real the plot.
Do your characters have time to enjoy Aunt Mabel's chicken? Or are their days filled with disarming a nuclear bomb followed by a speed boat chase after drug lords?