Okay, so I may have panicked a bit prematurely with yesterday’s epiphany. I read over the first dozen pages or so of the manuscript today, and I think I’ll actually be able to salvage a lot of it. The change involved giving my protagonist a boyfriend, which would of course mean he’d be likely to be with her a lot, which would change a lot of the scenes where I’ve had her alone. Not just her reactions or dialogue or stuff, but even simply what she’s doing.
But I realized I could get around this by just putting him in different classes from her, maybe just sharing one or two periods. I recall that when I was in high school there were a number of friends whom I didn’t have a single class with. So completely reasonable to do that, and that’d require only having to rewrite a few scenes, perhaps a few thousand words, instead of the full 16,000.
I feel I can breathe a bit easier again. Not that 16,000 is a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, perhaps only 15% – at least I didn’t come to this ephiphany after I’d finished the whole thing!