As I often do when I am between writing projects, I've been going back through my writing file and re-reading some of my early, unpublished pieces. I'm looking for ideas that might be worth salvaging, but what I'm really finding is one of the reasons why these stories didn't work.
In some cases, they weren't stories at all, but rather little slices of life. In real life, we may accept our fate and do our best to carry on. That's life perhaps, but it's not the stuff of novels. I realize now that there wasn't enough happening in the stories to keep my (the writer's) interest, let alone the reader's. That's probably the reason they were left unfinished. I made the mistake of letting things happen in the story by way of coincidence or lucky accident.
There wasn't enough tension in these stories either, because I didn't give my character a big enough problem to solve. He needs to have a enough of a stake in the problem that he'll be moved to take action.
So now, it's back to square one. At least I'll have lots to keep me busy till we start the copy edit on Mary Pickford.