I don't know about you guys, but I learn something from every manuscript, whether it's published or not. Some of it my characters teach me, some of it I realize as I go, and sometimes it's something my cp's work with me on and I improve (or at least I hope I improve).
With The Girl Most Likely, I learned from my rejection that I can rely too heavily on external plot. The external plot brings them together, but it's the internal that has to both keep them together and keep them apart (and don't get me started on THAT balancing act!)
So I applied that to The Baby Bargain, and when my revisions came there were comments about external conflict but they were minor and for the most part easily fixed.
What did I learn from Almost a Family? I learned that I could push through a manuscript that had to be written when I wanted to be writing something else. It was a manuscript that I had started but left to write something else and then went back to. It was hard to write, and the sad fact is some books ARE harder to write than others. But you know I'm pretty happy with the end result.
What have I learned from The Baby Bargain?
I learned about heroes. I learned that a hero needs to be tough. Now I for one don't like the strict, hard alpha type. I like sensitive guys. So I have a habit of making them too nice. Through my cp, and then with editorial guidance, I learned how to toughen up a hero without making him abrasive. Sometimes it's a matter of simply changing his body language. Making him more decisive. I also have learned to cut down on hero introspection. I'm trying really hard to show his character through his actions and less through his internal thoughts. And guess what else happens when I do that? THe pacing picks up. LOL Go figure.
I can see that difference, I think, in my latest partial. He doesn't let the heroine off the hook, but he's not rude or offputting either. He's just...solid. He acts. At one point she's crying in her car and he taps on the window. She rolls the window down and after a brief moment he says, "Open the door." She starts to say something and he says, "(ins. heroine name), just open the door." When she obeys and gets out, he simply holds her and lets her cry. Cuz he's that kind of man.
I am also about 3/4 of the way through the first draft of Original Sin (and yes, lovely editor has e-mailed to say she'll get to it ASAP). And I know I'm gonna learn OODLES from this story, which is a blessing and a curse. But I can tell you one thing I've learned for sure. I really really prefer having my cp look at things a chapter or two at a time rather than 7 or 8 chapters. I like being able to fix the big stuff as I go, so that the next chapter makes sense. Because I have a LOT of work to do on this one. :-) I AM going to finish it though, even if it doesn't pass muster with M&B. I've never left a manuscript partially finished and don't intend to start now.
What sorts of things have your manuscripts taught you?