To my amazement, I have bitten the bullet and created a plan for my novel with the help of my son, Carey. I think I was having a panic attack through the first few chapters so I will have to work on those, but it got easier. The magic ingredient turned out to be someone to talk ideas over with who would usefully (and sometimes contentiously) ask questions and point out inconsistencies. Now I have to work each chapter out into its own little plan, and I'm hoping to get a fellow student to help with that. But for the first time I do feel like the ending, conceived fifteen months ago, now connects to the rest of the story, and the pace works better. I bumped into a fellow student who said they were working on the story arc in their module,
and I was given the Christopher Vogler Mythic Structure overview and from those two I think I have met all the basic requirements of the novel. I noticed that I was introducing characters along the way that didn't add to the action and then needed stories of their own, so I've cut those right back. The action comes in waves now building up to a big, tense uber-battle at the end, and I've introduced enough moral ambiguity to make the antagonists better rounded. I've dropped some of the softer elements that lose tension and kept the story moving better. I can imagine, once I've loosely plotted the scenes and chapters out, being able to write bits. Marcus Sedgwick suggested he can write 'stepping stones' of a story once he's plotted out where they are all going to go, then he can stitch the novel together. I'm beginning to see how that would work.
Apart from that, I have my toolkit assignment back and it got a good mark though not enough for a distinction overall. I don't know why I got so hung up on a distinction, really, I came to Winchester to finish a book to reasonable standard and I think I can probably manage that in the time. I always knew I wasn't going to write literary fiction but I really enjoyed writing the poetry and will continue that for myself. Somehow having it there is a bit like moving to the foot of a mountain, you start to wonder if you can get to the top! If I want to go onto a PhD (undecided) I really need a distinction but I'm actually finding writing so enjoyable that that is enough at the moment.
I have my poetry to focus on for light relief and my plan to work on, now. It's all coming together, and the boys are doing well at college so that part of the project worked.