Character-driven. Plot-driven. Is this an either/or thing? Without great characters I don’t give a shit about the story. Without a great story I put down the book, no matter how interesting the characters are. If the story’s great but your dialogue sucks, it throws the whole thing off. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what you’re good at, what you’re bad at. Your manuscript has to be great. All of it. If it’s not, if it’s just ok, I’m going to pass on it. So are all the other agents. And if you can find a publisher who accepts unsolicited submissions, they’re going to pass on it, too, if it’s only ok.
I wrote a first draft of a novel once, with my best friend. We keep saying we’re going to revise it, but we don’t. It’s a nice story. There are some lovely moments in it, some poignant, some funny, some racey. I wonder though, what we could do with this manuscript to kick it up from being just fine to being great.
Is your writing great? Is your writing just fine? Does your writing suck? How do you know?