I think I need to cut the character Brett. Unfortunately, it looks like he doesn’t really add anything to the story. In the screenplay ancestor to the current WIP, he had a backstory and some interesting interconnections, as well as a basic arc, so I just assumed he was not an extra when I set out on this novel. That assumption hasn’t panned out, and as I am starting to appreciate the constraint imposed by 120K words, I do not think it is worth expanding his role. I had taken the basic cast for granted, so this is a jarring realization. It is also making me justify the presence of my other secondary characters, such as Revis and Kaylee. Possibly more combining of characters will be needed before this is through, but for now I think just Brett needs to go and the others will need more prominent roles in the action.
Along the same lines, I am 95% committed to cutting the prologue. This has been a very difficult decision — surprisingly so — but I am becoming much more comfortable with the idea. There are several different parts of the backstory that I consider crucial in that 1) they are very interesting, 2) they shine light on many of the circumstances unfolding at present, and 3) they outline some fascinating hints and clues which I think would entice a reader. Unfortunately, I am not convinced those reasons are good enough. The first-first draft actually had 3 prologues, two set 18 years before the story, and 1 set 2 years before the story. I settled on the current one (Brook Clearing disaster) because it represents the focal point in the political history that ultimately leads to the state of affairs where the story opens. I also drop some hints about the Erebossi and am given an opportunity to do a POV from one of them. This is not only an interesting added dimension, but it foreshadows their presence in the plot to come. It also drops the first hints about Evaya.
For the most part, these things can be shown elsewhere. In the case of the Erebossi POV, it doesn’t really add enough. If this were a series where I could have the POV recur a few times (as I originally intended), I would go for it, but to just do it once isn’t really helpful. Then as far as foreshadowing the Erebossi, they appear in chapter 6, which is not really that far into the story that I needed to reveal them up front. This isn’t Game of Thrones, where the white walkers are seen once, and then not again until the end of the book.
I just need to decide about the importance of the backdrop as it relates to the politics and the movement against the Elevated. If I find that to be critical, I will probably rewrite the prologue as a POV (uncredited) and call is chapter 1.
Same goes for the interlude… its gone. It adds details about the social instability pre-envelope (which can be worked in elsewhere), and then relates some interesting but inconsequential history about Evaya. Also Mangor or the Masters could reveal anything from this account I consider critical.