There are a few things I noticed. First, you use a broadlight/paramount/butterfly/whatever setup, which is pretty much the least contrasty of the main positions of studio lights (Rembrandt, broadlight, sidelight, rim/backlight, toplight). Then, you modified that with a softbox. Also, if I read it right, there were two bare bulb flashes pointed in the direction of the camera from behind the subject, possibly blasting right into your lens. All three of these steps add up to a low contrast picture, especially the bare bulbs leaking straight into the lens.
You can learn about the technical details of cameras, film, or whatever. But 90 percent of getting what you want in the studio is being able to control light to achieve the desired effect. If photographers spent 90 percent of their time and energy learning about light instead of focusing on cameras and developing and lenses, then 90 percent of problems would be eliminated IMHO.
There are probably some great books on lighting in your local library, or a college class nearby. My suggestion is to go for the "old school," "boring," "non-flashy" old books with a lot of words. IME they tend to be well written and not based on gimmicks, technology, or certain styles, while many newer lighting books are aimed at the impatient, rule-of-thumb-based, chimping digital crowd, and are not solid enough in the BASICS, or written for a very literate or intelligent audience. This is a broad generalization, of course. Look through all the books. I just think you will have better luck reading one that is a bit older and rooted in basics, as opposed to one with 50 lighting diagrams and fancy full-page glossies.
As for metering, it's not complicated. You set the camera to the exposure you get by metering the main light. Then set up all other lights to fall into place depending on how you want them to relate to the main light.
Also, looking at your photos shot with digital, it is a flat lighting, aside from the highlights from the backlights. As such, it should look mostly gray on the negative, with a few dark areas where the highlights are.