I’ve finished the next edit of Dark Glass now. I’m happy with the structure of the story, and pleased the main character actually does stuff now. I also think the writing’s far stronger than in the original version.
But there are always doubts. What if I’ve got rid of some sections that readers liked? What if the new scenes don’t work as well as I think?
I’m too close to the story at this point, and with more editing I’ll run the risk of reading what I wanted to write rather than what is actually on the screen. Yes, I’ll let the book rest before doing another edit, but I’m also going to use beta-readers. (Maybe that should be alpha-readers—I’m never totally sure which term is correct.)
That means I’m asking other readers if they’d mind looking through it. They can then come back to me with any comments—and I mean any comments. This process will serve no purpose if the only responses I receive are all ‘yep, enjoyed that’ or something similar. Praise is good, but constructive criticism is far more useful. I want them to tell me, for example, that they didn’t believe the characters would act as they did in Chapter 20, or that certain chapters felt flat, or that I had a character with short hair at the start of the book and long hair at the end (maybe if the story took place over a year this would be feasible, but in a story that has a time-frame of a few days?).
This is both exciting and a bit scary—what if readers hate the book? What if, based on their comments, I need to do more major re-writing? What if they say ‘something’s not quite right’, but can’t put their finger on exactly what’s up with the book, leading me to spend ages trying to figure out what the actual problem is before I can fix it?
But, as with the whole of this re-writing project, I have to look on the positive. Whatever beta-readers find, it will ultimately make the book stronger.
Of course, spending a few hours reading a book that you know isn’t ‘finished’ is a big ask, and I’m incredibly grateful to anyone who offers to help. I’ve already my mailing list for anyone wishing to do this, but if there’s anyone else who would like to help make this new edition of Dark Glass, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’m not going to look at the manuscript again until the new year. By then, hopefully I’ll have some comments to work with, and I can dive into the final stages of re-writing Dark Glass.
Previous ‘Reworking a novel’ posts: