1. Great hints, especially number 4, and especially the part about letting your protagonist get out there and protag. I read a manuscript for a friend once, a paranormal romance, in which the heroine’s boyfriend actually solved the mystery. When I pointed that out as a weakness, she didn’t get it at all. Also, I reviewed a YA novel in which the protagonist slept through the crucial conversation and decisions, all made by other people, that resolved the story. The author castigated me because his socio-political aims were so noble, I apparently should overlook bad story construction. But like you said: if your hero doesn’t save the day, why are you telling a story about this person in the first place?

  2. Oh, I so agree with this. All of it. I keep telling newbies that they need to get to the end the first time and then their revisions will make or break the story. It is so necessary to be able to step back from your MS and really see and understand its problems. Great list of questions to help do that!

  3. Liz Lincoln Steiner

    Perfect timing – I’m in the middle of massive revisions. I’m bookmarking this and will definitely refer back to it.

  4. Thanks Alex, great insights! Hard to believe someone would resist excellent advice like yours. But some people hate to change something big in their writing…although that’s exactly how you write a good book! For me, writing and solid story-structure comes in the revision stage.

  5. Me too Liz–I’m hitting revisions and rewrites now. I got the idea for this blog as I’m looking at the big issues in my book and figuring out how to fix them. In fact, my protagonist doesn’t solve the problem…so lots of work for me on the end. Good luck with your revisions.

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