It took me some time to figure this out. As a new writer I was listening to a story in my head but it didn't have a path. It was all character and setting more than plot. So these scenes would flash across my brain and I'd have to write them down. One scene after the next like a flip book.
But the story? Not so much. My first novel was one scene after another with beautiful moments and quirky characters. And here are some of the rejection lines I got.
"Beautiful! But not for us."
"Strong writing! But moves too slow."
"LOVELY! But no central theme."
"Ambitious. Too ambitious."
And they were all right, only I didn't understand how to fix what was wrong.
Until I read a book I couldn't put down and asked myself that all important question. "Why? Why can't I put this book down???"
And like a good writer,( and/or mechanic) I took the book apart.
It was the yarn. The ball of words that strung themselves together and pulled me from one point to the next. The breathless "And then????"
So, I humbly add to Stephen King's famous tip of the "What if?" in story telling. I give you Suzanne Hayes' practical way to get your story (novel) eaten up by agents and publishers alike:
Drum roll: THE "And then?" (You must create it at the bottom of every page. At the end of each chapter. Agent Anne calls them teasers.)
Oh, Oprah... take your "ah ha" moments. Me and my writing friends? We need "And Then???" moments.