For a long while I have been struggling with a certain work in progress. The more I rehashed and revised it, the more it stubbornly refused to pull together. My critique partners labored away, trying to help. Beta readers scratched their heads and offered suggestions. One friend bluntly told me to put it in a drawer. I was beginning to hate that book.
Finally, I invested in a professional assessment.
It was meticulous and thorough. And quite candid and frank. After nearly fifty thousand words I didn't have a book. I had a journal. Actually, to be perfectly blunt I had a repetitious journal of survival with some hot sex, an inordinate amount of shifty boxes, and a few too many coincidences that strained the willingness to suspend belief. Alas.
The thing that I did NOT have was a plot or action. Nope. Not even a little plot and the first actual action took place in Chapter Twelve.
I read every single note, every single mark on the page. Fortunately my evaluator had a sense of humor. In my story I had a plane full of boxes. Never.... never did I realize how much of the story was involved with moving those &)^%&* boxes! It's one thing to have someone tell you that the story is plodding. It's another when every single mention of boxes is marked in the margin with accompanying moans and whimpers. (And that's several times on one page.)
My heroine was snarky, slept all the time, and when she wasn't sleeping as my evaluator pointed out--she was peeing. Which led my evaluator to speculate about weak kidneys. Or she was too lazy to help move those pesky boxes. In between sleeping and snarkiness, she was jumping my guy's bones even though the bad guys were pursuing them with gusto.
Then there were the extraneous characters that wandered through the story at will--never ever quite finding their place. Some were unnecessary, others were simply never allowed to develop. It was sad.
There were a couple of good points. The sex scenes were good. This was reassuring to know. And a couple of descriptions were nice. She liked several of the characters even though they seemed to walk on, do their part almost like a narrator, and then scoot stage right before they accidentally became entangled in the story. No action!
Heh. So what did I learn for my money? Don't beat a dead horse. The premise for the story had merit. And the research was not wasted. Even the time spent writing wasn't lost because I learned a lot about how NOT to craft a book. After one long last sigh, I set that book aside without any bad feelings at all. If I ever need a laugh, I'll haul it out and have another look at the shifty boxes.
In the meantime, I began anew. I have a little over two thousand words so far... and only two boxes that I swear haven't moved even once. And my heroine, though tired, is wide awake!