I've now received reader feedback on my second draft of Scouring Juventas, so I've been working on my plans for the third draft. As I'm ready to start, I thought it was worth recording my thoughts.
While awaiting the feedback, I'd begun to compile my own list of things I was concerned about and aspects I definitely wanted to tweak. The feedback confirmed most of these, which came with a few additional concerns that I want to address.
As usual, the changes fall into three categories. First, there are simple line edits for clarity or to fix some clumsy phrasing. That's easy, and I'll be attacking those first.
The next step covers minor changes to the flow of the story or what happens where. For example, I reveal something in Jess's arc way too early, which reduces its impact. Conversely, a couple of things get discussed later than necessary, making one section too cluttered. Those are relatively straightforward, although they need a little thought to get the full benefit from the changes.
There are also details of the level of technology of the world and its laws that I've left taken for granted that I need to explain in more detail to make it a satisfying story from our current political perspective. I can spread that throughout the narrative.
Then there's the big stuff.
The first of these I was expecting. The Bekomdef thread of prelude/interludes had undergone several restructuring phases during the early draft, and it showed. Despite my initial attempts at knocking them into shape, all I succeeded in doing was muddy the waters and pad them unnecessarily. These need a significant rework. The interludes will disappear and become punchier short chapters in the parts themselves and encapsulate better character development for Bekomdef.
The second issue is something I've kicked myself over. I'd planned out the motivation for the way Jess acts in the closing parts early on but then managed to forget to put it on the page. Doh! That's not too bad, but it goes hand-in-hand with fixing Ryder's incomplete motivation to lead me in an interesting direction. I intend to make the most of those changes.
That brings me to the story's climax, which worked, but I didn't find it entirely satisfying. Fixing Jess's arc opens up the possibility of resolving that without needing a minor deus ex machina to tie up loose ends.
I'm pretty pleased with how everything will fit once those changes are made, although it will need a careful read through to ensure it all holds together. At present, I'm leaning towards self-publishing once complete rather than submitting to try to find an agent, but I won't make the final decision until I'm done.
Scouring Juventas, plus the final Muffler novel, The Muffler's Misery, will bring this phase of my novels to a close, tied together by my short story collection – more on which later. The book after that will be entirely unconnected, which feels like the right time to try to get an agent.
Right, time to start editing...