I thought it was about time I gave an update on The Muffler's Misery, seeing as I'm about to start on the next draft. I received the feedback on the first draft a couple of days ago and am ready to crack on with the rewrite.
As I was expecting to get the feedback then, I carried out another read-through myself last week. It's amazing what having a month away from a manuscript can do. I could see the flaws, characterisation issues, and the things I needed to fix. However, other than minor typos and clumsy wording, I didn't make any changes. I wanted to see how my thoughts aligned with my son's.
Luckily, he agreed with all my concerns. Irritatingly, he had several more. Even more annoyingly, he was right. There's a whole raft of small to medium changes that won't take too many days to fix. I'll be starting on those, but the more substantial issues should be the most fun to fix. These are:
Too much repetition of the critical problems left over from The Muffler's Mission
Not enough justification for the novel's title (even though it's correct for the story I was trying to tell)
A significant lull in part 4. Too much stuff that I needed to know as an author, but the reader wouldn't care about
A weird run-on between parts 4 & 5
The split between the ongoing story and the episodic themes for each part makes the denouements unsatisfactory.
The change of POV between Rowan and Tia is sub-optimal, especially in part 3
The secondary character arcs for Lance, Brett and Gwen feel disconnected, causing their resolutions to lack impact.
Encouragingly, I have a plan for all these, some needing more work than others.
Discard the current prelude. Much of it is already recapped in the main story, and the bits that aren't can be easily inserted.
Write a whole new prelude. This will be told – for the first time – from the perspective of the Oracle herself. The prelude will be referenced occasionally by familiars and the Oracle during the main events. I thought it was a good idea to hint at what the story is really about early on, rather than leaving it to the last chapter...
Reorder the chapters in part 3. With very little change, I can take chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and put them in the order 1, 3, 2, 4. Surprisingly, that works much better! It was the correct order to write them but not to read them.
Move the last chapter of part 4 into part 5, with some rework. That gives a better thematic split between the parts,
That leaves part 4 needing a significant rewrite, making it more of a period of pausing to breathe before the big finale. The focus needs to change away from the President. I'll probably chop about a third of its content but also add a couple of new scenes featuring Gwen, Brett and Lance.
With the new part 4 in place, it won't take too much to use its events to make part 5 more effective.
With those changes in place, I can then go through to fix the remaining disconnects in the text. Phew. I'll also be renaming each part, as their focus on an individual was causing problems. Currently, I'm expecting these to be:
A Marriage of Inconvenience
An Alliance of Convenience
The End of the Chase
A Period of Consolidation
The Weapon of War
I guess I should probably crack on and do it rather than blog about it.
By the way, that's the slightly updated cover above. No, that's not the sun glowing above the sea. It's in the wrong place for a start. You'll have to read part 5 to find out...