Peter: "You said no. We broke up."
Ashley: "No, no. I was confused, we stepped back."
Peter: "You moved to Portugal."
-While You Were Sleeping
After discovering that my manuscript was lacking oomph, I decided to take a step back. Throughout the first draft, I'd made myself stay close to it so I didn't lose momentum. I didn't want to think too hard in case I changed the whole story- I needed to get into the habit of writing.
To take that step back, I started writing a summary of each chapter, highlighting the plot points and character motivations/decisions. As I went through it, my heart sank. Through the first two-thirds of the story, my main character was consistently indecisive. She made bad decisions, and consistently did stupid things. But I can explain! I told the hubby, who was reviewing the summary.
See, I started this manuscript as a rewrite of a fairy tale. Bluebeard, to be exact. I didn't know how to plot, and this was a great way to learn- the major plot points are already there, and you get to practice in between. So in the fairy tale, the girl meets Bluebeard and agrees to marry him rather quickly- the original takes place in that magical fairy-tale-time, when arranged marriages were common. But because I was rewriting the fairy tale, I needed my main character to marry this guy rather quickly. So *that's* why it seems odd that she meets him in chapter one and is married to him in chapter three.
...the hubby didn't buy it. And I shouldn't have either. Character should drive the plot, and I'd let the plot dictate to the characters. Stepping back helped me see that the story needed some major reworking, which lead me to a question I really didn't like: was it worth the effort?