Have you ever finished a short story or novel and after reviewing it thought hey, wait a minute, it’s missing that thing. You don’t know what that thing is. It’s just not there. And it can be as frustrating as a strange smell in your house that you cannot locate or understand what is causing it. Then you remember the banana your two year old walked away with the other day and you don’t remember it being in their hand when they came back in the room.
Anyway, the thing, let’s come back to it. After pouring over your recent masterpiece you realize it has no flavor or omph or the secret ingredient that old Italian lady knows for her marinara sauce. It just does not explode on your literary taste buds or get the vote of confidence from your peers you hoped to receive.
I’ll tell you what was missing from my book. Tension and conflict.
I’m sure some of you reading this have felt the same way. And knowing what it is and weaving it back into your story can be as painful and annoying as Peter Pan trying to catch and sew his shadow back on.
If you cannot tell what your book lacks, my guess is that it is probably some mechanical piece of storytelling. My advice to help you find this elusive thing is to ask someone you trust to read it. If you don’t have a writers group, I’m sure you know someone who is an avid reader intelligent enough to understand what needs to be sprinkled in. Be brave. Someone has to read it someday if you are going to be an author.
If you find yourself in this position don’t despair. Don’t give up. Keep reviewing and keep digging. Don’t look for the easy way to publish. You won’t be satisfied with that ending. Put it aside if you have to and come back to it later. After all, a simple steak can be great. But a steak marinated for two days, rolled in a spice blend, and then grilled to perfection will always be better.