I took a couple of days off as Nano concluded but now I'm back at work. Each of the past two days I wrote about 6k words on the story, which is now surpassing 60k, the original word count goal. I'm in Act III, have gotten past the Darkest Hour and am about to write the part where the MC makes the decision to act and prepares himself for the next big confrontation, the final one of the story. I'm estimating another 10k to 15k words to finish this out. It should fly by as I get into it.
Sure enough, the story has picked up again. I felt like I lost the way for a while, in the second half of Act II. That's normal, the part where a writer thinks "this is utter *@%@! and nobody would ever want to read it!". Thank goodness I revisited my notes, sorted out the few things that were weakening the story, and got it back on track. I have learned more again doing this story -- every new story teaches me something new and helps me get better at applying the strategies I am using to write and manage the work. I see constant progress, probably because I constantly work at it.
One nice thing I saw happening as I solved these recent plot issues was that I was able to turn things around from stuff that "happens" to decisions the MC makes. Sometimes, juggling so much new material during a first draft, the MC ends up going along for the ride. I guess it's hard to depict the MC as decisive if I'm not sure of the decision to be made or what's going to happen next -- I have the general idea, but I didn't plot out the details for this novel. I'm using "intuition", which is fine, but it just means I have to go back and fix some things to draw a more direct line between them, and recast things as decisions. Just a little focusing work in the editing, nothing too much.
I like the story again, and that's the main thing. For a while I was wondering, but I've gotten past that stage, fairly quickly and fairly painlessly. It IS a cool story. I'm finding between the JASPER story and this one that it is much easier to work with the material if I just KEEP IT SIMPLE. I tend to make everything so complicated, with so much symbolism and other levels of interpretation, etc. It's just the way my mind works. I see that complexity, and I tend to want to put it into the story. If I just keep it simple, concrete, and work with that focus, then all these other things will work their way in anyway -- I can't not write that stuff -- but it will be anchored to something that is more tangible and satisfying to the Reader. Stories are much easier to write if you keep an emphasis on a simple, uncluttered, concrete plotline. Then, work with that, to your heart's content.
Back to work. In another day or two, I hope to report that JACK & JILL, Draft 1, is finished.