I finally figured it out. That elusive something that was missing from my novel in verse, SHARRA'S WAR:
My main character, Sharra, is too perfect. Too faithful, too determined, too selfless. Sure, she's a little insecure and has no clue how to use her unique ability. But that is SO not enough. And I've finally realized it (or, finally admitted it to myself).
During this realization, I have seen a pattern emerge. Many of my characters don't have big enough flaws. They don't have the room they need to stretch and grow and overcome their weaknesses.
I knew I had hit on something when I discussed this with daughter #2. She once told me that SHARRA'S WAR was perfect and that she would be mad at me if I changed it. But when I told her the other day that I think the problem with SHARRA'S WAR is that Sharra isn't flawed enough, she looked at me with a mildly pained expression and said, "Yeah," with a little nod of her head.
I've always known that characters need to be flawed. And now I am seeing what that really means for my own characters. We all need plenty of growing room, after all.