I recently received feedback on the first draft of my short story collection, Substrate Constraints (detailed here), and have been beavering away to address those concerns and the ideas they generated. The collection is so much better for it.
The biggest changes were in the longest story, A Muffler's Rebellion. That was the most ambitious of all, so naturally had the most problems. Luckily, the problems were nothing fundamental, just character motivation details that I'd left in my head. The ending needed reworking to make it meaningful.
That was a common theme – I made significant changes to the way two other stories ended, and they're so much more effective now.
Somehow, the collection is 3,000 words longer, yet has two fewer stories. Impressive, but there's a good reason for that.
This collection used the free Mutterings of Consequence stories as a starting point. I also added a couple of new short stories that followed on from that collection featuring the same characters, often with a similar overarching theme. My beta reader made the obvious comment: why not make them the same story?
So I did. It needed a little rework to make them join into a coherent whole, but should be more satisfying reads. I've left the original story in Mutterings of Consequence, but the expanded versions will only be available in Substrate Constraints.
What was In Memory of Psykhe and the new In Memory of Tethys has now become In Memory of Erica's Career. What was A Redivision of Community and the new A Supervision of Society now uses the latter title for the combined version.
I've given a better introduction to each story too, and I'm confident this makes a more coherent read. Any changes I've made to the stories that are in both collections have been ported back into Mutterings of Consequence too.
I've also decided to add the story Two Mufflers Chatting into Mutterings of Consequence. It's less of a standalone tale, more of an additional epilogue for the forthcoming The Muffler's Misery, drawing a line under the trilogy as a whole. That will be included in edition 6.
So what's next? Well, next week, I'll be doing the final read-through and draft of The Muffler's Misery ahead of its publication, and then doing the same for Substrate Constraints. Then it's on with Two Worlds Are Better Than None.
Busy, busy, busy.
[Update: 6th October 2022]
It's nearly there! I've made a few changes after the final read-through of Substrate Constraints, got it ready for publication, and received the proof copy of the paperback. Checked it, fixed a couple of minor formatting issues, and submitted it for publication. It should be live soon. When it is, you'll find the Buy button appearing on my website.