[Full disclosure: and of course the book isn't really done. My editor still needs to approve my changes, and then there's the copy-editor, and page proofs, and galleys, and and and ...]
He had had me re-write it from third to first person, and come to think of it, most YAs are in first person. Here are some other things he wanted, so maybe you can steal some of these ideas:
- Need a better sense of Ellie. What makes her tick? Show her at school, with friends, involved in a hobby
- Bring depth to her emotions
- Sustain them
- Have them last longer than just reacting to previous bit of dialog
- She should be feeling a lot of emotions – she’s a teenager
- Show emotion toward her love object. Make us feel how she falls in love. Make her more gaga.
- Avoid over interpretation. I realized, I felt, I could tell that – passive and sound third person. Show us how she feels, not what things mean.
- Show, don't tell. [Full disclosure: didn't I already know that? But sometimes my editor pointed out places where I summarized and leached out the emotion in the process, ie, "Being patted down – even by a female cop – with my hands up against the wall and my legs spread apart, was humiliating and degrading." That was telling. I needed to show it.]
- The wrap up to any mystery or thriller can only be one chapter long.