- Give character relationships depth and conflict. Specifically, he did not understand the initial attraction between Cora and her husband Arthur ("Being a 'nice guy' just doesn't cut it.") He also wanted me to bring the growing tension between Lila and her best friend, Rosemarie, to a head, instead of allowing it to subside and letting life return to normal between them, which is the way the subplot is currently written. There were several other relationships (Marcus-Edward, the playboy; Arthur-Ophelia) which my BE also thought needed heightened conflict and climax, and he's right.
- Work on dialogue and narrative style. This is technically two comments, but they both deal with my overall writing proficiency. My BE said I need to shorten some of the dialogue to make it more punchy and engaging, and also to pay attention to my point of view. He says I pull the reader away from the viewpoint characters' impressions by asking a lot of rhetorical questions. When he called my attention to this, I thought, by golly, he's right. What I had considered to be a clever little stylistic device was apparently not only ineffective, but distracting.
- Finally, my BE confirmed that nagging hunch that has been lurking in the back of my mind for some time. My story would benefit from less viewpoints, and more honed central storyline(s). And what's more, he wanted to see more of two of my ancillary characters - Rosemarie and Marcus - and thought that their stories could actually carry the novel, with Lila being more clearly defined as the antogonist. I still have not completely worked out how to go about this shift in narrative vantage points, but one thing I do know is that the change feels right.
One thing has become crystal clear to me by now - this "revision" process is turning into a full blown "re-write." Anything less would be creating a Frankenstein of a novel; cobbling together new passages and chapters and inserting them into what I already have would doubtlessly create a schism in flow and style (I feel I've grown so much as a writer in these past few months from taking in people's comments, and I'd like to think this will be reflected in my future writing.)
So now I know what I have to do ... write a whole new book!!!