My story had a weakness and I needed to know what it was. Was there a problem with the plot, not enough conflict, what? I had my "ah-hah" moment during a writer's conference as the result of two different classes meshing together in my head. Here are some definitions from one class that I wrote in my notes:
Plot: Action that grows out of conflict in a sequence of events leading to the next conflict. Conflict: keeps characters from what they want. I had both of these to some degree, but they really depended on a major consequence.Here is the tip from the query letter class that jumped out at me:
Consequence: What will happen if the main character doesn't overcome the conflict? State in one sentence the consequence of the MC not getting what he/she wants. Elana's example: Control or be controlled. If you write this out early in your work in progress, it will help you to stick to the main conflict.
I had action growing out of conflict (plot), I had characters who had trouble getting what they wanted (conflict), but I didn't have a strong enough consequence that it mattered to the reader if the MC could overcome the problem. Strengthen the consequence and I take care of my story's weakness.
So, I have been rereading my manuscript, inserting this stronger dimension and hoping it all still flowed. The extra time it takes will make the story better so it is worth it. Anyway, I'm feeling better about getting the story strong enough to submit soon. (I just hope there doesn't have to be another ah-hah moment of which I am not aware.) I do believe that the more knowledge we gain and can put to use in our craft, the better the results. Be not weary in well-doing. Take the time to get it right to the best of your knowledge. Can I get an "Amen"? Who else has a rewrite or "ah-hah" moment to share?