After exactly a month of editing, the third draft of Scouring Juventas is complete. That was an interesting experience, challenging at times, but ultimately extremely satisfying.
Despite trimming a lot of padding, especially the old interludes, the word count has gone up again to 105,300 words. I'm satisfied these serve a better purpose in telling the right story now.
As I mentioned before, I've now reworked the interludes into much more focused chapters within the parts. That's except the first, which serves as a prelude, set a century before the main story. The final part has also been renamed, which gives the following structure:
You'll notice that it starts off with the tertiary duty, unlike previously. That's because there are only three now, split into four parts across the novel. Having them as chapters makes them sit much more neatly in the story.
The changes in part one were primarily about setting up character motivations better and priming things that happen later. The structure was unchanged.
Part two was similar, except for the insertion of another part of the tertiary duty. The main focus here was fixing the motivation behind Jess's actions and how that drove her later narrative.
Part three is more interesting. Besides now including two separate duties, you'll notice there are two new chapters as well. This is less new content, more splitting up overly long old chapters and interleaving them better. There was an odd backwards time jump before, which could catch the reader unaware, if not the writer.
Now we're entering the home straight. At this stage in the second draft, I had one more thread tangling the story than was necessary. Another aspect came out of nowhere and felt alien to the world I'd created. Now, I've set up things so much better in the opening part, one of them is no longer needed, and the other has been replaced by something more in keeping with the world.
Then we reach the big finale in part five, now called The Substrate. Not only has the supernatural weirdness that distracted from the story disappeared, but critical elements have also been explained better upfront. That means that the prolonged epilogue chapters that followed the resolution of the main story are now half the length. That's soooooo much better!
And that's it. Sorry, this is a bit of a boring post, more for my own pleasure than anything. All you're probably interested in is what comes next.
I'll take a short break of only a few days, then give it one final read-through to create the final draft, probably by early April. Finally it'll be on with self-publishing the novel.
I've decided not to submit this to see if I can find an agent. That's not because I don't rate it, not at all. It's more because it feels intimately connected with the wider world of my other novels. Although it is a standalone story, it fits neatly between The Tamboli Sequence and The Mufflers books. I want to keep all these tales, plus the final Muffler book, The Muffler's Misery, as part of the same self-published sequence. The novel after that will be different, but that's something for 2023!
By the time this is complete and I've gone through the self-publishing process, including checking a proof paperback, I expect to publish Scouring Juventas around the end of April 2022. As usual, it'll be exclusive to Amazon for three months before being released wider.
I'll also be publishing edition 5 of my short story collection, Mutterings of Consequence, which contains the sequel short story to this novel. This was previously called Scouring Earth, but I've now renamed this to Leaving Juventas. That makes much more sense.
I'll come back with an update closer to the release, along with my latest plans for the final Muffler books.