As I write this blog entry, I am happy to say that as of last night, I am in the last third of my second draft. If all goes well from here, I hope to have the second draft put to bed before the leaves fall.
There have been some parts of the second draft that have been a total beast to deal with. I just put a six chapter arch to bed that was killing me. Somewhere back in June, I realized that I was stuck. A big reason why I had written myself over a cliff was that I had a major character who I finally had to deal with.
She's mentioned in the beginning of the book, but doesn't really come into play until the section I was working on. She barely was even in the first draft. Basically, the problem was that I didn't know who she was.
How did I deal with it? I sat down with some paper and a pen and tried to fill in the gaps. There were a lot of them. There were huge aspects about this woman that I had to know for myself before I could do anything with her. After getting back and finishing those chapters, many of the things in my notes never made it in.
Why not? They didn't need to be there. They were all important things that I needed to know, but I didn't need to weight my reader down with.
So, here was my lesson. When I get stuck, I need to identify why I am. In this case, it was a matter of spending time on a character's backstory.