Well, that was fun.
Completing Part 3 reminded me why I fell in love with writing in the first place – the way the characters kept on surprising me and telling me what they wanted to do, the way all the jigsaw pieces I'd seeded earlier started slotting into place to reveal a picture more vibrant than I'd expected, and the way my ideas about the world I created were fundamentally changed. It's made me even more excited about a third Muffler's novel.
I started off by writing the remaining interludes, which turned out to be a great decision. They clarified my mind perfectly, particularly over the hazy motivation of one critical character. As these evolved in ways I didn't anticipate, I decide to rename the interludes, giving me a structure as follows:
Prelude – Delusion
Part 1: Portsea
Interlude – Expedition
Part 2: Brightgate
Interlude – Evasion
Part 3: Emforth
Interlude – Proselytisation
Part 4: Ringwall
Interlude – Deception
Part 5: Glaundon
Postlude – Reverberation
Then it was on with Part 3 (Emforth), which is when the joy broke out. I had such fun waiting from a perspective other than Rowan Webb, particularly with their relationship with a new character from Emforth, Lance Knight. It was one of those silly, random ideas that I decided to pick up and run with, and everything clicked. I wish I could tell you without reveal spoilers, but you'll have to wait for the book!
I've also made some edits to the earlier parts to ensure things lead in better to the ideas that sprang from nowhere in Part 3. That should all make my second draft process a lot smoother.
Because of that unexpected character interaction, this part ended up slightly longer than I anticipated, with one more chapter – but is so much better for it. These are the six chapters:
Part 3 finished at just over 20,000 words, which gives me a total so far, including the interludes, at around 63,000 words. At present, I'm expecting the first draft of the novel to be about 80,000 words. As I have two parts and a postlude left, you can probably work out that these parts will be shorter.
I've sketched out Part 4 already, which will have three chapters, two of which will be from Rowan's perspective, one from the perspective of Part 3. these chapters are:
I think Part 5 will have a similar structure, but I may change my mind when I get there.
And yes, that's another draft cover above, inspired very much by Part 3. Not happy with any cover yet, but this process helps things crystallise in my mind.
I have this odd feeling that after my beta reader feedback that I might end up combining the last two parts into one, and making the last interlude into a standalone short story, but I'll see. It's happened before. Sometime's it's hard to take a step back as an author to decide whether something is a critical part of the story, filling in narrative gaps that make the story, or just an interesting part of background detail that the reader can work out for themselves.
I'll be back as usual after Part 4.