Why is that stuff you wrote a year ago reads like absolute shit today? Is it because distance alone makes you more objective? Or does it mean that you're actually getting better, that your mind is incrementally assimilating the craft of good writing over time, giving you fresh eyes? Both?
The BETA MALE draft, for the most part, is strong. But it's certainly not done - even though it felt like it was done a year ago. There's some stilted dialogue there that needs to be excised: characters taken out of an Ayn Rand book, characters that transparently convey philosophical points in a way that simply doesn't map onto the actual conversations that take place between people.
Here's a problem: you want your characters to talk about something interesting - about ideas. Except in real life, only a certain type of person talks about ideas (at least the interesting kind). Is your character one of these people? Maybe they are - but what about their friends, the people they're talking to? On paper, when two characters talk about ideas, it's easy to start straining the plausibility of the narrative - to make it seem like each character is just a mouthpiece for the author's own internal conversation about a topic.
This is the paradox of fiction - it's real and unreal at the same time. A writer, then, is a magician, someone who fuse these parts together, masking the union between these two contradictions.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis