So where do I go from here? Well, the story has changed enough in the telling that what I have before me is the original Crappy First Draft on a number of levels, principally that a number of the things I was originally aiming for in the early chapters didn't happen or happened very differently, so there are consistency and relevance issues out the wazoo.
Another aspect of the Official Crappiness is deliberate - large sections of text are functionally mostly construction lines in this version: passages written to remind me what I was thinking, what alternatives I needed to consider, or just to write myself the hell out of a difficult corner. My particular process requires this to be written actually in-story, in order to keep the narrative flowing - but passages of that kind come sort of pre-marked for editorial attention at the first opportunity. So the final text is liable to be considerably slimmer than the original.
This is good, since the size of the raw draft is about 185,000 words. I'm thinking that something like a third, maybe even a half, of this can be slimmed down in a superior draft that eliminates all ramblings and false starts and fictionalized notes-to-author.
But if Three Katherines of Allingdale is to work as one story, to this I have to add the 42,000 words of The Deed of Katy Elflocks. There's little or no fat on that at all, though there will be some minor tweaks for consistency with the way the setting and story have developed. So my best guess as to the size of the Reader Ready Second Draft comes out at somewhere between 130,000 and 165,000 words. This is kind of chunky for a first novel, and unfortunately the only reasonable breakpoint for splitting it is at that 42K mark, where the story takes a thirty-year break.
Funny old thing, that. The original point of extending the story before doing anything with Katy Elflocks was because the logic of the tale suggested a really neat triptych structure - three roughly equal panels: first Katy's song of a summer, then Kit's story of a fall, and last Kate's winter's tale to round the whole thing off. But Kit's story soon proved to be like the Red Witch of Alland herself: elaborate, tricksy, and far-ranging even for a standalone novel of its own. So here we are, with a very different and asymmetrically divided treatment, the enchantment-shot realistic fantasy of Killer-Kate developing and resolving the themes propounded in the grounded fairy-tale of Katy Elflocks. There'll be work to do, in making that work - but it'll be more than somewhat worthwhile, if I can pull it off.
I'm setting myself a deadline of Easter to have the work out and ready for beta-reading, there being so many grades of cutting and polishing ahead. The rest of this month I'm devoting to the highest-level stuff: grand consistency, major structural and character issues, and generally working on the overview.
In the meantime, here is a nicely evocative but necessarily spoiler-free taste of the Honeywoolf's tale: the final chapter-list for Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland.
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland,
a Winter's Tale
1. The Black Roots of Langdale
2. Treacher Pike
3. The Disenchanted Woods
4. The Last Mortal Passage
5. Beneath the Sky of Thorns
6. The Red Star's Bale
7. Company out of Song
8. Tally-Clerks and Tigers
9. The Long Lane to Hexhold
10. The Horned Moon in Her Hair
11. A Fairfields Wassail
12. Katy of the Marches
13. The Free Folk in the Dales
14. Langdale Rising
15. Fire and Honey
16. New Braidings along Allwater
17. Winter's Telling
18. Upon the Lightning's Fork
19. Eyes of Storm
20. Cockshut Time
21. The Grey Wolf in the Red Gloaming
22. The Assize before Carrowglaze
23. The Low Road
24. The Torches of Heaven
25. The Sweeping of the Hearth
26. Wolf, Witch, and Widow
27. Mother and Son
28. Three Katherines on the Edge
End-Piece: A Spring-Breakfasting in Newborough
Ye Gods, I love being able to post that!