I got my instructor feedback from my outline back. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION! She said (among other things that I understand completely):
You really need to depicting a clear character arc for Seth, so that we know where he begins and where he ends, AND exactly how he gets there, emotionally, directly from the action of the story. I agree with others that right now this isn't as sharp as it could be, that the resolution/climax in Chapter 23 of Seth realizing he wants to change doesn't necessarily fit with a plotline throughout of seeing him either begin the book wanting to change and attempting to do so, OR spinning further and further out of control and then only here confronting a need to change. Whichever your preference is, each chapter should clearly be action that moves this story forward, whether it's showing him facing challenges to changing despite his clear efforts to do so (if the former choice), or showing him encounter situations and handling them worse and worse until something occurs that's a real wake-up call.
Now, my idea from the beginning was tell the story of an out-of-control young man who quit his binge drinking and drug use of his own accord. End of.
I killed off his friend to give him a reason to do this. For ages upon ages, the story started six weeks after the death and after this decision was made.
Then I decided readers couldn't see the change in my character because he made the biggest change off-screen before they even met him. In my newest outline (and chapter drafts), Seth's friend is still alive when the story opens and his death is discovered on-screen (sort of) in the third chapter.
Now, from what I gather, my instructor is saying that Seth's journey isn't enough of a journey? I have him decide to quit drinking, quit, sometimes wish he could drink, fall off the wagon, and then after the bad stuff goes down, realize he doesn't want to do it again. Essentially. (I know; this sounds like an alcohol is BAD story. It isn't supposed to.)
I agree that it isn't good enough like that. I guess I don't quite get how to fix it.
having him encounter situations and handling them worse and worse until something occurs that's a real wake-up call.
I don't think that's the story I want to write at all.
I don't know quite how to tell the other story she's suggesting: showing him facing challenges to changing despite his clear efforts to do so. But I think it's the one I'd rather go with.
Now I just have to figure out how exactly...