Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Another short but intense phase of diplomacy revised. Huge matters got whooshed past in the first draft because I didn't know about them, and the emphasis left on more tedious stuff because I understood it and needed it to progress. Structural changes indicated at present:
- Diplomatic infodumps, here and just before the climactic chapter, to be replaced with dramatic yarn showing the actual moves on the ground. Two new chapters probably required, bringing the Debating of the Wood and the Doom-Riding episodes respectively to the fore. Vividness and tension both thereby much increased from the original sketch, and space for some much-needed development work added. Some signposting blah throughout the book can probably be removed at the same time.
- I may be able to get rid of one, or even two, of the shorter and less interesting chapters, by drawing off their vital spirits into one or other of the new ones.
- The manoeuvrings of the Duke's advisors now get spread much more evenly throughout the book. The Puffin Superior can be contacted covertly as soon as it makes sense to do so, and so is no longer parachuted in late in the game. As much delay as I need can be attributed simply to her age, the (tweakable) distance, and especially the combination of bad terrain and filthy winter weather. Meanwhile, Lord Evil has a more interesting focus in the early part of the negotiations than lurking around plausibly upholding Evil. I haven't got all the details yet, but I'm beginning to get a strong feeling for what the rebalanced plot must look like.
- I'm quite proud of Garcastle's physical presence and palpable weight of history, in the story as stands. On review, I'm far less impressed with the way I've conveyed Garcastle as a living community. This would be a fault even in a conventional epic fantasy. In a commons'-eye tale like this one, it's simply not acceptable. More research and imaginative exercise required here, and soon.
My pace isn't too horrible to date, but it's still not as fast as I'd like, and I think I'm going to have to do some heavy bashing over the weekend to keep to my schedule.