While I was away the typescript of Lord Alexander's Cipher; or, the Bridekirk Behemoth came back from the NWS together with a report on its strong points and its weaknesses.
The strong points are, apparently, my writing ("literate", "elegant"), the plot, and some of the "set piece" scenes (especially the one where we meet the elephant, but also the one near the beginning with the balloon). This is good news because if the plot were hopeless, or even a bit weak, I would probably have to start again from scratch, and if my writing style were poor then I really shouldn't be in this game at all. I enjoyed writing the set pieces, and maybe a couple more wouldn't go amiss.
There is one major problem. For a historical romance, LAC;o,tBB is rather lacking in, er, romance. The central romantic relationship is too thin. The heroine is not proactive enough, and the relationship is not developed very well. The hero and heroine meet too little, and interact too little when they do. I think that this is fixable, particularly as my reader was quite specific about the scenes that she thought were the most problematic, and she has very sensible suggestions about what I ought to do about them.
There are other less critical problems - I need to work on the dialogue, and I need to thin out the number of names and make them less similar to each other. This last point is something that I was conscious of already. There's also the problem of my letting the chief villain escape without explanation. The explanation is that she is needed for a sequel, but I need to set that up.
There may be more stuff annotated on the typescript itself which I will look at tomorrow, but the bottom line is, I think, that I should work on making LAC;o,tBB better, rather than either binning it and starting again, or binning it and not starting again.
Overall I am very happy with my report, so three cheers for the RNA and the New Writers' Scheme.