Have you ever had a problem right in the middle of a sewing, craft or home improvement project? You’ve just realized you sewed the sleeve on inside out, or your embroidery thread is tangled in the middle of a satin stitch, or you’ve made the cut on your crown molding at the wrong angle. So you have to grab the seam ripper to remove that sleeve, turn it right-side-out and re-sew. Or snip the embroidery thread below the tangle and get that little short bit back underneath your work. Or schlep to the home improvement store for more crown molding and cut it right this time.
It’s a groan-worthy experience, both because you’ve just spent X amount of time in wasted effort and because you have to spend Y amount of time to make it right (can you tell I was a math major?). That’s about the time I start to yell at my sewing machine (and the poor thing is an inanimate object), saying a few choice words not suitable for polite company. I sometimes feel like chucking the whole thing into the garbage bin, but I never do it. That would truly be a waste because I know with just a little more effort, I’ll soon have a nice shirt/skirt/pair of shorts to wear.
This is sort of what’s going on with the young adult paranormal book I’ve been working on. After I finished the most recent rewrite, I knew it needed another pair of eyes. So I did a beta-read trade with another author. She had some excellent feedback, some of which I’d already figured out, some that was more of a doh moment. Like I have far too many characters, and several can be eliminated and their actions shifted to the truly important main and secondary characters.
But to make the changes my beta reader suggested requires some major surgery of the book. Large chunks will be able to remain the same, but they’ll have to be detached with that seam ripper, rearranged the proper way and re-knitted into the story. It’s a good-sized book, rather like a massive quilt, and it’ll be a challenge keeping straight what goes where, particularly with the elimination of several characters.
It’s like I’ve got my book gutted and on the operating table, but I’m still not sure where all the parts go. I am truly grateful for my beta reader’s feedback. I’m excited by the prospect of making the book better. But wow, what a messy project.
I’m really just starting out reassembling this odd garment of a story. I only have a small window to work on it since I’m carving out time before I my editor returns the edited manuscript for Rebellion, the third book of the Tankborn trilogy. I probably don’t have quite enough time to get the YA paranormal rewrite done before I have to shift to Rebellion and then my second Janelle Watkins mystery. It will be so nice to finish it eventually though, to get those last seams pressed and the final bit of embroidery around the neckline. Then I’ll sit back, admire my work…and send it to another beta reader.