I've now received the feedback on my second novel from my son in his role as editor. We managed to time it perfectly, so that I sent him feedback on his latest novel on the same day. As ever, his comments are annoyingly good, raising both minor, easy to fix issues, up to more significant problems which needed more thought.
I'm not sure how unusual I am in this, but this part is one of the things I enjoy most about writing – taking disparate issues raised and coming up with solutions that fit neatly into what I was trying to achieve in the first place. I think I'm nearly there, piecing together the mosaic of feedback and making the correct picture emerge.
I had a few concerns about aspects of the narrative that I sent him, but didn't want to cloud his feedback. Interestingly, possibly my biggest concern (mainly due to the struggle I had writing it) was how well part one worked, but he was pretty happy with this. However he did confirm my worries that the main threads through parts two and three weren't as clear as I wanted, and that although the main plot is happening all the time, it's not as apparent as it should be until part four. Perfect. That's what I needed to work with.
Out of that, my plan has emerged.
Firstly, I'll go through and fix all the minor issues raised – typos, ugly phrasing, bad grammar, that sort of thing – all things that can be fixed within a line or two. That's easy, but gets the bulk of the issues raised out of the way.
Secondly, I've a new scene to add to part two. It was something that was mentioned previously, but occurred off-screen, as it were. However, with the journey timing changes I made during the second draft, I just realised that I have two characters in the near vicinity to this event, which gives me a few options to have a bit of fun. That also provides a better narrative drive to the second part, and allows me to finish it differently, almost as a standalone tale. Much better – it also means part four starts slightly differently too, but that's an easy change.
Next, I'll rework the interludes a little. Events will be essentially unchanged, but the first three interludes would be more effective if they were told from multiple perspectives, which would also make part four work better, even unchanged. I'll also be adding a short new section at the end of the first three interludes. This will shorten the end of interlude four, but raise the threat much earlier and improve the narrative drive.
Then I need to make use of these changes throughout the rest of the story. They help me highlight the themes, raise the stakes and give the earlier parts of the novel a more obvious purpose. All these changes will be relatively minor, but will be spread through the tale from start to finish.
Finally, all that will be left is one final read-through to ensure that everything is coherent and I haven't made any new stupid errors, and then start to prepare it for publication.
There's a chance I may get all this done by the end of August 2021, but we'll see. That's my target date for my part of the work, but by the time I've got proof paperback copies back, it's likely to be closer to the middle of September before I'm ready to publish. I'm not going to rush it to the detriment of the novel.
I'll be back when things have progressed.
[Update 22 August 2021: The changes are complete, the word count is up to 95,500, and I'm extremely pleased with the changes. I wrote a little more new stuff than I was anticipating, but the character arcs are all the better for it. I'm expecting to publish early September, currently waiting for the paperback proof for checking. As with other novels, it will be Amazon-exclusive for 3 months, before being rolled out through other outlets.]