Got a short scene of denouement done on The Unicorn not-Elvis, and I have plowed through my reread of all the existing text of Grail, adding and subtracting and editing. My favorite [bracket note] removed today and replaced with actual text: [Actually describe all this stuff some time when you are not sleepy!]. Yeah, I crack me up.
World events and politics are making me long for that UNABOMBer cabin in the woods. I begin to understand why some people resort to violence to make their voices heard. I have no actual plans to blow anything up, never fear, but the motives are starting to make sense to me. Fortunately, Grail is a bitter, angry, political, rantiferous book (a lot of my second draft work will be in making it not sound like Robert Heinlein swallowed a social radical) that is largely about how the human brain as currently evolved is a crappy tool with which to analyze nuanced situations, so it's probably productive for me to be this damned angry.
Bad for the blood pressure, though. And I'm going to have a hell of a time burying the didacticism in this one, but I'd like to get it down to at least Octavia Butler levels of subtlety. (Currently, I'm cruising somewhere around Sherri Tepper. How many Teppers in a Heinlein?)
But I have sent in the man with the gun (or in this case, instituted the terrorist bombing) and the Dreaded Middle Of The Book is now officially underway. I think at this point, rather than pushing on, it would be wise for me to pause and potter a bit and see what shape the narrative is taking and what plot threads I have still hanging out there. I know how the book ends, but the path to get from here to there is somewhat tortuous and vague.
I may do what I did with the first draft of Hammered, and do a reverse outline--sit down and write out all the scenes I have and what bits of information I have to work with, and then figure out what each of them means and what further developments they support. (Sometimes I outline, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I do both in any given book. I'm a big proponent of doing things any way that works.)
Although while I was writing that, I figured out a plot twist that is nasty as heck and makes me very sad, because it's going to break something I liked. But breaking stuff is my job, even when I hate it, and books are more interesting if they have obstacles to grow around.
Some of what I've cleaned up has been obviously kind of thrashy. I can tell when I'm fighting a scene because the quality of the first-draft prose goes down and word rep creeps in. My whole brain gets oriented to pushing through the action and finding the emotion, and setting, detail, character--all that stuff becomes extremely skeletal. But that's what drafts are for, and my writing process is sort of iterative and rolling. I go back and fuss with stuff a lot until it feels right, while continuing to push forward at the end.
I guess it's staring-at-the-wall time now.