It's been a busy week or so — lots of running around, some family stuff, nothing worth crowing about in public but it did keep me away from the keys. Enough time away from the keys for me to take a new tack with the current novel project (Fall Of The Hammer): start re-outlining.
I have enough of a "zero draft" done to know what the limitations are of the project as I have it currently conceived. There's a lot of them. Next step is to take the pieces I have, use them to compile what amounts to a new story with a new scene breakdown, and then write that as my next draft.
Unusual steps for me, but I felt more and more like I'd written myself into a corner, with too many unanswered questions that needed definitive answers. When in a corner, stop digging (or, rather, when in a hole, but still). Best to back up and begin the next actual step.
Each draft is a milestone marker for a project, but I've found you don't need a complete draft to serve as a milestone marker. Some of the outline attempts I wrote for Hammer ended partway through when I realized I was chasing the wrong rainbow. There are something like thirteen outline attempts for this story now — another legacy of its fragmented and turbulent history — but most of those are things I had the good sense not to continue beating when they were already dead on the ground.
I don't think I've had anywhere nearly this much concept-to-execution difficulty with any other project I've worked on. Again, I'm tempted to blame it on this being a "scavenged" project. That made me less inclined to think certain parts of it all the way through. Never again.
There's more than one way to mark progress for a work in progress. Sometimes it's when you take one step back so you can take several more steps forward in a new direction. Sometimes those markers don't feel like markers at first, but walls; only when scaled over do they become a marker.
This stop-and-restart has helped. If nothing else it made clear how some of the most persnickety problems in the story can be solved by simply cutting things that only generate more complexity than the story needs. If'm going to write myself into a corner, at the very least I can do so in a novel way, and from that learn a novel lesson. Puns intended.