Last Thursday night, two things happened. One was the UK election, about which the less said the better (OK, John Judis has some good analysis). The other was me finishing the first draft of The Fall Of The Hammer. (Sometimes just Fall Of ...; I need to come up with a canonical version of the title and stick with it.).
First draft? More like, first-and-a-half, maybe even second. This is a complex story.
Here's how this unfolded. I started writing the first draft of Hammer early this year, after having already outlined it. I was at a point where I felt like any further tinkering with the outline would have been procrastination, so I dove in and began drafting.
I got to about the two-thirds or maybe three-fifths mark before I realized I'd accumulated material to change the direction of the story drastically enough that it didn't make sense to continue plowing through under an old design. So I stopped, went back to the beginning, and began what essentially amounted to a second draft. it incorporated all the changes I'd already noted for myself, and in doing so helped make it possible to write a coherent version of the ending I wanted.
Not doing this would have been messy. I'd have the front half of the story according to an old design, and the back half according to a new design. Just keeping continuity would have been a terrible hassle, because I needed to rely on the continuity that was already on the page, not the continuity I had in my notes. So back I went, and all told I only lost about a month of work time. Nothing the god of fiction wouldn't let you into heaven for.
Now here I am at the end of the first/second draft, whatever you want to call it. It took less time than I thought to write the conclusion; once I realized I'd already said everything of importance, I just had to find the right way to tip my hat to the reader on the way out. And once I found it, slam, the whole thing closed up in only a page or two.
What now? A few days off, I guess. I'll likely come back for the next draft after the holidays — and by that time I might have the next book starting to cook up too.