With a flash of inspiration, I launched into a re-write of the last manuscript I finished. Part of the inspiration came from a literary agent's comments on a rejection of a different novel, but all novels need tension to keep the pages turning.
Read anything you have at hand and you'll see that something of interest is ever present. There's often little subplots thrown in, with an issue brought up in Chapter Five but resolved in Chapter Ten, and then leading to a new issue that has you following along to see what happens.
When you're writing historical fiction, you've got the history right there to provide the flow of events. The problem is, real life doesn't always have cliffhangers at the end of every month and the last thing you want is a re-hash that's rather dull and plodding.
Hence, the need to make stuff up. My main character is on trial for murder, and the day-to-day in the courtroom doesn't make for brilliant prose, yet the trial is central to what happens later.
How to make it interesting enough for the reader to get past the middle bits?
That's where I'm getting bogged down. I have to create some conflict, maybe between the protagonist and his devoted wife. The conflict has to fit within the historical context, of course. Women weren't liberated back in the day and a fan of historical fiction could be put off by something so far beyond the realm of possibility as to abandon the novel unfinished.
At the same time, whatever made-up conflict I introduce has to fit into the frame of the story. There's no point in throwing in some action for the sake of action if it makes for a bump in the narrative road.
No one ever said writing novels was easy.