I'm happy to announce that the updated draft of The Muffler's Misery is complete. I've now made all the changes I outlined in the post before I started, and plenty more. In fact, I got a bit carried away.
Most of the changes were as planned, but when I reached part 4, I was still dissatisfied with its structure. Although I'd improved things, a narrative break made the later resolution of the character arcs for Gwen, Lance and Brett Webb unsatisfactory. Worse than that, I broke the story.
Similar to The Muffler's Mission, this novel starts off being episodic, with parts 1-3 focussing on Emforth, Brightgate and Brett Webb, respectively. There is an overall storyline which comes to the fore in part 4. Except, it didn't. You could easily have overlooked it until part 5. That needed fixing more radically than in my original plans.
In the first draft, there was a six-month gap between parts 3 and 4. That was where the problem lay. I've now added two new chapters set at the start of part 4 and reworked half of what was left to accommodate. It's hugely better,
With more judicious renaming to fit what actually happens now, this is the novel structure now:
In case you were wondering, purple means the chapter/part is from Tia's perspective, Rowan is green, and if it's white, it contains both Tia's and Rowan's viewpoints. The yukky beige Prelude? Ah, that's the wisdom of the Oracle.
The novel has reached 93,200 words in total, nearly 10,000 more than the first draft. Phew. That was unexpected.
So what's next? First, I'm going to take a break from it for around a week, so I can come back for another read-through with a fresh eye to create what will hopefully be the final draft. Then I'll have to go through the pre-publication process and get a proof paperback.
Ideally, I'm looking at publishing it no earlier than the end of September, more likely in early October.
In the meantime, I'll be returning the favour and giving feedback on my son's latest novel, polishing the short story collection, Substrate Constraints further, and painting a few more walls. There's always something to write and paint.
What's the meaning of the strange version of the cover at the top of this post? That's a graphic representation of how my brain feels after all those changes—another reason I need a short break before rereading it.
It was worth the effort though. I'm exceptionally pleased with the way it wraps things up.