I've decided to move ahead with my next novel, CHASM. I've already started it this past week, and have written two chapters, about 7k words total. It's off to a very solid start, and I'm very excited about the rich story, rich characters, and wealth of possibilities which this story affords.
I'll continue to work on JASPER, and JACK & JILL, as time permits, editing and rewriting. However, I don't want to hold up my forward progress with a lengthy editing phase at this point. I want to keep moving forward, developing my skills. I see such a huge jump from one story to the next that I feel compelled to move forward, rather than waiting for the editing of these last stories to be complete.
I won't be doing Nano this year. I've already started my next project, prior to November 1st. I couldn't wait.
It's always nice when that "Aha!" moment comes. I took a little time away from the JASPER novel and then spent a little time thinking and sketching some notes for the rewrite, then I let those notes sit, and then again I sat down after rereading those notes and thought some more and the "Aha!" moment struck. During that moment of great clarity, I managed to establish about ten key points that will guide me in the rewrite. These ideas count as course corrections, bringing the story back on track where I wasn't sure before. The ten key points mostly affect the characters' attitudes and motivations, which in turn drive the way the final events unfold, keeping them much more consistent with the rest of the story. In other words, "Aha!"
Now that I can see the answers that I was seeking before, the lack of which caused me such consternation during those final chapters, I can't help but feel it's all so much simpler than I was thinking it would be. That's one sign that I have the right answers. You know you're on the right track when things fit seemlessly together and feel right with very little trouble.
Now I'll move on to the rewrite. I wasn't sure if I'd go back and do some of the major work first, then fine tune, or just go through in sequence and fix the problems as they appear, whether large or small. I decided I should go through in sequence, to help ensure the logical flow and catch any other things which I haven't already settled with my ten key points.
I don't know how long the editing will take. I'll shoot for a month, knowing it might well be two, but it shouldn't take six months or another year. Half the story is already significantly edited and refined and totally on track. The other half needs some work, but only a few chapters out of 25 are in need of actual rewriting. So, as long as the answers remain clear to me as they did in the "Aha!" moment, the rewrite should not be too much trouble.
I wanted to complete the first draft of the JASPER novel by 9/30, and I did! The word count came in at 95k, which is quite a bit over the original goal of 60k, and even the revised goal of 80k. This is now technically a completed first draft, but in reality the first half of the manuscript has been edited quite thoroughly, and is really on draft #7, at least. So, the bulk of the work that remains will focus on the second half, in particular several of the last chapters, which are quite rough. I will shorten to a maximum of 80k.
The recent planning paid off as I was able to look at my extended table of contents and remember what each chapter was supposed to address (goals, complications), and then sit down and write it. One at a time, I made my way through each chapter of Act III. The material feels right, and the antagonist issue worked out well, but the strengths/weaknesses issue remains a concern. I'll focus on that tonight when I reflect on the recent material and write notes to guide me in the editing of the second half.
After tonight, however, I'm not sure if I'll carry on directly to the editing of the JASPER novel, or will return to the editing of the JACK & JILL novel, or whether I might take a "Creative Break" or even a short breather then dive in to another new story, the "CHASM" novel which I had planned out in detail over the summer. I'm eager to start that one, when the time is right. I think I should edit, though, because I very much want to complete one story or the other by year's end -- that should be a priority. Whether it's JASPER or JACK & JILL doesn't matter, just that I actually finish something this year, to the point of a completed, edited and polished final manuscript. That was my goal last year, and I didn't make it. This year it is possible and more than worth aiming for.
I'd do a little happy dance and shout for joy at the completion of JASPER, but the truth is I'm too frustrated after the last several chapters to feel the joy right now. Once I reflect on what I wrote, and tie up the one remaining loose end about strengths and weaknesses, then I'll feel like celebrating. And, I will. That's something we should always do when we reach a major goal.
Best wishes to others in completing their drafts or rewrites,