As I sit in front of my screen, the glow of blue light assaulting my eyeballs, it’s been about twenty-four hours since I completed Till Death Do Us Party’s fourth draft (it’ll be closer to sixty hours once this post is published). It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post one of these updates—the plan was always to let the manuscript sit for a while, percolating before I could summon the will to get back into it.
And it spent eight months percolating, while I spent my time making a point of writing anything else. But in eight weeks (or a little under, if I was the bragging type), I made my way through its pages, massaging the words and (hopefully) improving on what I had.
As is the writer’s way, I spent the last eight weeks oscillating between Till Death Do Us Party being the greatest piece of fiction ever written, to it being the most horrendous piece of shit anybody has typed out in the history of storytelling. But as I take a step back and look at what I’ve committed to paper (if only electronically; I haven’t yet printed it out), I believe I can say it sits somewhere in between. I know I’m pretty partial to my little story, and that’s half the battle, right?
When I finished the previous draft oh so long ago, I was half-expecting my fresh eyes to demand wholesale changes. My eyes didn’t make such demands; it turns out I was fairly partial to that draft, too. The changes to this draft are relatively minor, I excised some parts that didn’t quite click, and others that added complexity that confused the story rather than added anything of value.
But at its core, Till Death Do Us Party, draft four is essentially the same story as it was in draft three. And more importantly, it’s shaping up to be the story I set out to write: a humorous fantasy horror about an unwitting couple who ends up in Hell. It’s violent, it’s profane, and it’s possibly a little sacrilegious. Its protagonists see themselves as leaders, but you likely wouldn’t want to follow them anywhere. They may not be your archetypal heroes; they likely won’t set the example you wish to follow. But hopefully, you, the reader, will want to follow along and bear witness to their misadventures. And as you do, I hope it makes you laugh.
And as you laugh, I hope you wince. I hope you cringe. I hope you cry. And most of all, I hope you feel sick to your very stomach. This is a story that plays into the absurd, also one that plunges into the depths of humanity’s worst instincts.
Coming in at thirty-six chapters comprising a grand total of 132,229 words, it’s not a short piece of work. I went in with the aim of cutting down its words. Not only did I remove unnecessary words from it, I removed parts of scenes to streamline it. And yet, it grew. Only by 1,219 words, but at this point, it is now the longest it has ever been. I’ll work on streamlining it down in the next draft (draft 4.1, because I have a strange obsession with iterative versions), refining the wording, rather than the story itself. It’s a plan that will likely only last as long as I don’t think of more things to throw into the mix.
It won’t be another eight months before I move on to draft 4.1. I’m going to let it sit for a little while, where I’ll use the break to get ahead with the book reviews I have planned for the rest of the year. And by the time we tick over to 2023, in about six weeks’ time, I’m hoping to have made some real progress with it.
There’ll still be work to do, there’ll be a draft five, and likely a draft six. But I’m hoping you’ll see Till Death Do Us Party at some point during 2023. And after that? Other than bringing Luminary to a publishable state, I’d better get to work on the sequel.