It’s late, but this is a tough one and I want to get my thoughts down now before I go to bed.
So, I got the beta-reader/manuscript assessment editor’s feedback on the reworked version of Mr. Ruin. Broadly, he loved it. Great sci-fi. Well-written. Hardly needs any work at all, except…
It’s a big except. Much of the second half of the book was dull.
This a huge blow. Of course it’s just one person’s view. It doesn’t mean they’re right. But – this is what I was always worried about with this story – that straightening it out would leave some parts hanging in the wind.
To briefly explain, I originally wrote Mr. Ruin as two intertwining narratives that didn’t really intertwine until the very end – at which all (maybe) became clear. Readers had to swallow a fair bit of confusion to get that far.
So, really the big idea of the editing I’ve been doing for the past many months was to try and straighten the narrrative out into chronological order. I’ve just got all 3 books straightened, and now my editor says it doesn’t work. By the time the second plot started at the midpoint, all he cared about was the first plot. It makes sense. Straigthened out, you can see how the two plots connect easily, but not a lot of the narrative urgency of plot 1 carries directly into plot 2.
They each have their own urgency. When interweaving, the challenge for a reader was to absorb these two threads of urgency and invest in them both. Now the challenge is for a reader to even care about the second thread, which is hard because in this latest version it comes so late, essentially at the climax moment of thread 1.
People won’t want to delay that climax for too long. They’ll get impatient for the end.
I asked the editor what he thought about re-interweaving. He seemed pretty jazzed about it. Sigh. It does make me feel like I’ve basically accomplished nothing in all this time of editing…
BUT, I also know that that is not true. The de-interweaving really didn’t take that long. Minutes of copy-pasting, really. Most of what I’ve been doing should benefit the twin threads no matter how they’re structured – speeding things up, cutting redundancy, foregrounding narrative urgency – the usual.
SO, it should be better, still. I could argue that straightening it out really helped me see the hooks and kickers that develop through the chapters and serve to bring urgency. They’re accentuated now. It should help.
I guess I’ll re-interweave, then send him book 2 already interwoven, and see if he thinks it’s better that way.