As I was thinking about the woman at the Girl's Night In who self-published as a way to attract the attention of a large mainstream publisher, I was interested to come across a JA Konrath blog on the subject. It lays out quite clearly why and when an author might want to do so and what the pitfalls are, including how and why self-publishing can actually harm your chances of becoming a published fiction author. There are reasons why self-publishing is also know as vanity publishing. JA Konrath is a high priest of self promotion and PR and his blog often yields useful information. I do recommend it.
Jackie Ashenden is a MH aspiring writer who allowed me to have a peep at her synopsis. Okay so I was nosy...Apparently my words were helpful which was great. My fingers are so crossed for her. She definitely has the right attitude.
Anyway, one of the points that immediately sprang to mind and it is something I have to carry in my head all the time is the whole make the turning points active and that the protagonists are wilful beings who make things happen rather than reacting to the world around them thing. It is something that I had to learn the hard way. Protagonists take action and the world behaves differently than they expect. Protagonists possess the will power to make things happen. It is all about increasing the risk, making what they stand to lose greater with each step until the black moment when their life/emotional well being is at stake.
McKee is great on this -- in real life, many things happen spontaneously, but not in a story. The world reacts to the protagonist in ways the protagonist does not expect, and thus the protagonist is forced to take more action to re balance his or her life.
If you start with too high of stakes in all areas of their life, there is nowhere for the protagonist to go. You have to keep complicating and adding so that inner character is revealed and the protagonist can grow and change. But it needs to be a piling of the pressure, rather than having all the pressure there at the start. And sometimes, you discover that you added bits too early.
My wip is going on and hence all these thoughts about action/reaction.