by Susan Sey
1) Your plot bursts into flame when touched by daylight.
Not good. Your characters should be taking your plot out to play at least once every couple of chapters. It should NOT be hanging upside down in the cellar all day while the hero and heroine exchange witty quips, drink coffee and compliment each other's shoes.
2) Your villain is far and away the most sympathetic character in the book.
This is especially troubling if your villain is a vain, selfish predator who lures underaged girls into (ahem) inappropriate activities. (If you made him a hottie, though, you had to know you were asking for it. Where's your CP? Kindly request a forehead slap and an "oh, honey, no.")
3) Your best idea for revisions involves a wooden stake, a crucifix and a spritz of holy water.
You thought about shooting it with a silver bullet, too, but oh, that's for werewolves. Still, shooting something is appealing. Understandably so. But consider the mess. 400 pages of confetti. And who's in charge of vacuuming? Exactly. Don't make more work for yourself--there's plenty on your plate already from the looks of this zombie manuscript of yours.
So, what to do?
1) Inform the family that, as of this moment, they are on their own in terms of laundry, food, housekeeping and transportation. The little ones will cry ("But mommy I can't reach the washing machine!") but wah, wah, wah. This is war.
2) List all the character traits that make your villain really fascinating and three-dimensional. Now give them to your hero. Evidently you forgot to give him any redeeming qualities of his own, & your villain will need to share. Consider doing the same thing over in the Motivation department. Can't hurt.
3) More sex. (For your characters, not you. You don't have time to fool around. Nose to the grindstone, you.) Why more sex? Because if your plot blows and your villain's outcharming your hero, your readers deserve something. They could probably use a distraction at the very least. Throw them a (heh) bone.
So, any advice for raising a manuscript from the dead? What's your favorite jump-start? Any Dr. Frankensteins out there willing to share? And be honest--can really great sex redeem an otherwise ho-hum book?