There are two major ways a book manuscript can fall flat. A manuscript may have no real beginning, or it may have no real ending. While both are signs of a bad manuscript, you can fix either problem.
A Story with No Start
Beginnings are hard. We know. They are the introduction to your book, and perhaps the most important part of the novel, as this is what readers use to determine whether or not they are going to read on. A manuscript with no real start, therefore, has a massive problem.
You can fix a manuscript with no real opening by digging into your characters and their motivations. Why are they in the situation that makes this story worth telling? What events led up to this?
The opening situation or crisis has to be strong enough to motivate your character to action. By showing your character before and after the plot point that has turned his or her life upside down, you will have a start for your book.
Fixing a Manuscript with No Ending
If your book has the opposite problem – no ending – there’s a way to finish the story with a bang. A classic climactic ending is classic because it works well.
Consider an ending that brings your main character face to face with the antagonist. Write a confrontation. Think about bringing your main character very close to peril or failure, but let them turn it around with their skill, bravery, and talent.
Whatever you do, remember that your climax should typically be the most exciting part of your novel. That doesn’t mean that it needs to be an action scene with your main character jumping from a helicopter onto a moving train, but it should be emotionally charged. It’s the moment for which your readers have been waiting.
From there you might consider writing briefly about your character’s path forward and what he or she has learned from this colossal event.
You can always try writing various endings to see which fits best. Plot out potential conclusions and ensure that they fit into the overall structure of your novel. This will show you what works and what feels most natural.
By asking and answering the right questions, you can turn a bad manuscript into something that shines. A combination of good writing and strong structure will help you bring your ideas to life.