Brotherhood is incomplete.

It is also too long, and bloated, and needs a word loss plan. I’ve been spending today reading a different project, set on a completely different world, so I would not start tearing apart what I have of Brotherhood to rework it. I’d far rather finish it and get at least one other person’s opinion on whether or not it’s bloated and needs to lose words. I know, as written, about the first quarter is good; it’s a pretty straightforward line for the characters, taking them from their homeland to the Capitol of the Empire. The ending quarter should be decent as well, as I have a clear idea of what needs to happen. It’s the middle two quarters which need the shrinkage.

There are a few problems with the middle. I seem to have written one event per scene in the middle portions. I think I can combine a lot of these one-offs. I also lose track—for thousands of words—of important subplots; for instance, Karé, an antagonist, makes few appearances throughout the two middle portions, and he needs to make more. I also think I need to bring Doéna’s realization of Karé’s “influence” in earlier. I need to make Doéna more active—not calling Karé in challenge, but doing more acting instead of simply reacting to what Karé says and does to him. I need to get Doéna into unarmed self-defense training much, much earlier, and have Karé take risks in his threats—and be more threatening. I may give Karé something of a party of allies in the Imperial Court to complicate things.

One of those complications, I think, needs to be Karé betraying the fact of Doéna’s true birth status. I think it needs to come in earlier, and I think it needs to color the way the Courtiers behave toward Doéna and his prince to some extent. I’ll give them allies who won’t care, but I think I need to add some conflict—or at least some difficulty—to their relations with at least some of the nobles in the Court.

As it is, Brotherhood looks like it’ll come out to about 120-150k words as is. I would like to cut this by at least 30k in the reworking of it. Ideally, I’d like to bring it down to around 100k. I think this is possible in a rewrite from the point where Doéna and his prince arrive at the Capitol.

I’d really rather not cut the beginning quarter out, because it gives what I think is necessary background (the process Doéna’s prince goes through in becoming the “responsible” person he acts like for most of the remainder of the book), and also think it’s necessary to illustrate the depth of the brotherhood between the two. I think without those two things set up in the beginning, Lorien’s behavior would be unbelievable to some extent, especially when things get very difficult for him and he begins to revert to immature behavior. I want readers to see the full spectrum of Lorien’s changes of character, from the day he receives word of his impending marriage to the end of the book. I also think I need to have the depth of Doéna’s brotherhood with his prince shown to make his very real concerns about Lorien’s likely reaction to certain things understandable.

I know the rewrite will alter the ending somewhat, so I’ll probably do an outline from the point where I cut the book through the ending. But that will come after I’ve finished the project and gotten a second opinion.