Okay, step one was a success. I finished reading BS by Saturday afternoon and I can't tell you how good that felt. One, it was super cool reading my book on my Nook. It's probably the only way I'd actually read the entire MS without making an edit. Although, I did break down and crack open a notebook so I could copy down some ideas before I lost my thoughts completely.
Two, I learned a lot. Time adds a lot of perspective. It had been a year since I worked on BS and that time allowed me to read the story objectively. Here's what I can say about the story as is: the writing is good. I'm really proud of what I wrote and how it sounds. I spent 6 months off and on editing the piece and that shows.
What else? The story is complete in that there's no unanswered threads. Everything concludes with the last page in a neat little package, which to me is super important. I finished reading a novel last night where this wasn't the case and I was completely annoyed.
Unfortunately, good writing doesn't equal a good story. BS is close, but not quite right. I read on Nathan Bransford blog last week (How to Craft a Mystery in a Novel) that "A character's desire + Consequences/stakes + Obstacles + Delay = Mystery". This got me to thinking, is there enough at stake for my protagonist? No. I struggled with this throughout the first draft, and I thought I fixed it, but it's not good enough. So, this is one part I need to fix in my rewrite.
Upping the stake also ties heavily to a critique (read: three lines of opinion) I received from a super cool agent. This über agent said she "didn't understand at all what all the fuss about a missing husband was. It just didn’t seem big enough to write a novel around." Never mind the fact that the husband's actually dead, because you don't find that out until page 77, and by then I've already lost your attention. So, that's changed. Über agent also said that she "didn’t think it [the beauty aspect] was integrated enough into the story itself," so I'm upping the ante there, too.
What does that mean for my revision? Well here's the plan: there's gonna be more at stake, more beauty business, more lies and more personality in my protagonist. I've already been hard at working outlining the changes and I can't wait to implement them. Off to work I go!
Query critique Tuesday: Just tell the story - If you would like to nominate your query for a future Query Critique, please enter it in this thread in the Forums! Also, if you'd like to test your edit...
4 hours ago