Many of my clients are good writers; which means that they pass the “Mrs. Theriault” test (Mrs. Theriault was my 8th grade English teacher.) To pass the Mrs. Theriault test is to follow the rules of grammar; write a decent sentence in which subject and noun agree, tense is respected, etc.
However, while many of my clients pass the Mrs. Theriault test, they fail the shopping cart test.
The shopping cart test? you ask. Yes, the shopping cart test. Although in some distant lands it is referred to as the big, black sack test. Regardless of what it is called, it is the conceptual flaw that almost every book suffers from.
In short, novice writers, once they decide to write a book, think of their book as a big shopping cart (or, big, black sack) and commence to load their book with all sorts of things, just as they would load a shopping cart as they moved through the aisles of a supermarket.
But a book is NOT a shopping cart. Just because you can fit something into a book doesn’t mean it belongs there! Every book, or piece of writing, has a very strict internal logic which must be respected. Failing to respect that logic dooms the writing to mediocrity, at best. That logic is established with the very first words that are written, words which determine tone, voice, and narrative structure.
Novice writers, even good writers, struggle with the logic of a book or story. That is why a ghostwriter or professional editor is so important. He can write your story or book so that it adheres to its internal logic, thereby accruing power page by page, rather than simply drifting off into the ether.
So, if you’ve written a manuscript that just doesn’t “move” you and, for the life of you, you cannot figure out why, you can be sure that the problem is not simply your sentences or your choice of adjectives and adverbs. The problem is one of fundamental logic, and needs to be addressed by someone who knows what he is doing. Otherwise, you may get a good grade from Mrs. Theriault, but your manuscript will be forever doomed to remain in a bottom drawer rather than in the hands of enthusiastic readers.