I'm 33,000 words into the Angel Hill novel and haven't been able to do a thing with it in almost two weeks. I kept thinking it was because I hadn't settled on an ending and without it I didn't know what I was writing toward. But I don't think that's it. The problem is bad planning.
When I wrote THE THIRD FLOOR, I had written that story twice already, once longhand in a 6-page story back in 1992, then a later, 30-page version. I then spent probably ten years letting the story gestate before I sat down to write the actual novel version. With this new one, I got an idea of an idea and started writing. I know the story well enough I could just sit down and write the next 20,000 words or so, but it would suck. Because I don't know my characters, my setting, or my situation well enough to make it all count. I didn't plan the novel well enough. That's not to say I need detailed character bios and maps or anything--but, truth be told, I had character bios for the Kitch family, along with pictures of people I thought looked like them, as well as a map of Angel Hill and several years of having lived in that house, so I knew the layout pretty well--but I do need to know these things better than I do. I knew there would be a point where I needed more information on my characters, and I kept telling myself I could come back later and fill it in. But I'm to the point where I should be doing that, and I can't, because I don't know them. Nor do I know the setting well enough. I have a vague image in my head of what it looks like, but that's not good enough. It's not going to make the place real for the reader if it isn't real for me. So the problem in going further is lack of planning. And a handful of scenes are in the wrong order.
I need to restructure the first part of the novel, moving a big chunk from the third part into the first, the part where I finally introduced a handful of the side characters. I skipped it in the beginning, because I could always do it later, which I did, in a very vague, general way, but I need to move that closer to the beginning so that, in those later scenes, we've already met them and we can see their development instead of their introduction.
I've said it before but it bears repeating: writing novels is HARD.