Often, when you aren’t happy with what you’re writing, it’s because you’re writing about your character from a distance. You’re seeing your scene as a bird might. Swoop down. Sit right behind the eyes of your protagonist. Is she sitting in a field? What does the sun feel like on her skin? Is he walking down a city street? Does the grass grow up through cracks in the sidewalk?
Another thing to remember is that your character is not your plot. They aren’t a vehicle for driving the reader through your story. They have their own history; their heart has been broken; they lie in bed at night and dream of being something else. They have siblings and cousins they’ve played games with, games only they know the rules to. They are scared. Confused. Confident. On the verge of being in love. There was that one time they danced in public, and they didn’t care how goofy they looked.
The only way to convince your readers that this world is real, that these characters are real, is to believe it first yourself. To do that, you need to zoom in. See the world as your characters do. Describe it through all 8 or 10 of their senses.* Know them as well as you know a dear friend. And then write to do them justice.
*It bugs me that we pretend there are only 5 senses. It ignores so many other ways we understand our world. There’s the kinesthetic sense, which is our ability to feel our own bodies in space. If you close your eyes and touch your nose, that’s your kinesthetic sense. When your character has an out-0f-body experience, they are feeling a breakdown of this sense. Balance is another sense, with the organs of the inner ear providing information about our orientation in space. Vertigo is an important sensation to convey to the readers. Hunger is a sense separate from taste. Hot and cold are sensed separately (Fun fact: The cold sensors within your epidermis are closer to the surface than your heat sensors, which is why, when you dip your hand or foot in scalding water, it briefly feels cold before it feels hot. The trigger for “extreme temperature” hits the cold cells before the hot cells).