Okay, so on Wednesday I got totally wadded up, slogging through far too many words and scenes that were clearly such vestigial tails of earlier drafts that I had to stop and do some serious trimming.
Over the last two days I've cut away pages and pages of deadwood. I had 340 pages and I cut away about 60 of those and another 60 will have to be rewritten from scratch, but I can use the existing scenes as an outline.
I've finally, finally, FINALLY figures out how the romance turns and more importantly, how the jigsaw pieces of my protagonists tattered souls fit together.
I've hammered out a working outline for the third act, where I was just stumbling blindly in the dark.
I've also started a project thesaurus. I do this sometimes when I find myself using the same words over and over again, especially when the book deals with something in particular that I need to describe a number of times, like curses or shadows or something sinister. So to keep myself from flailing around more than absolutely necessary (because I do concede that some flailing is right and necessary) I've begun doing these thesauri. When I was working on Theo Four, for example, I put together a list of words to describe curses, and also evil. Or words for describing a desert. Or ancient ruins. Or I jot down bits and pieces of descriptions for the streets of Cairo. I fill a whole page so I have a huge variety of words to choose from. Plus, being the total word geek that I am, I love pouring through my thesaurus and creating these lists; it reminds me of words I've forgotten about or aren't used enough. I don't know if it's a function of getting older or from having written a fair number of books in a short amount of time, but I am definitely feeling the need to fill my word well.
Anyway, now I have my writing house in order and can dive back into the story and make some serious progress.
Or here hoping, anyway...