So, to that end, and to veer dramatically to a more concrete subject, I went and reread a lot of my unfinished writing this afternoon. There's one stand-alone novelish thing that's very promising, although I don't think I've put enough time or research into it yet; the dialogue strikes me as being all wrong for the time period. Mostly I went through and tried to reorient myself with regards to Black Ribbon, and it was amazing how many fairly recent decisions I'd made that I'd already forgotten. Good decisions, too. Black Ribbon's going to go through a lateral expansion--some new characters, some new elements, more of Rose Hannah's world, more of the steampunk element. Interestingly, rereading The Golden Compass a few months back was instructive in that last regard--really just a very few changes Pullman makes to Lyra's world, but they're so vivid that he signals the difference fairly quickly. I forget what they use instead of electricity, but you see right there, he's got an opening for all kinds of "scientific" things, because he immediately establishes that their science isn't ours. Or even a simple word like "chocolatl"--you immediately understand that it's the same, but shifted. Rather than stress out over real-world science, and does it work, and was it already in place at the time (and therefore not actually borrowing from the near future) a couple of simple This World Is a Little Different signifiers could give me a lot of wiggle room, even something as simple as altering the name of a major location or landmark. I'm still in the drafting phase--which is my favorite--and in the end, I could go back and make it more real-world compliant. But since it is the drafting phase, knowing that I have this option to color further outside the lines is really freeing, because it's the strict inner workings of science that give me the worst block.
I'm also going through and making a list of things I know I want and I know that I need. If I've got a character who's fairly involved in the first half, I've got to do something with him in the second, you know? I can't just let him disappear; it's more satisfying if you bring that kind of thing back up and resolve it somehow, even if it's just a mini-resolution and you leave the rest of it for a future installment. I don't know how many of y'all have read the three online chapters or remember them if you did, but Ned Morland has pretty much dropped off the map, and he needs to come back somehow. I have something for him to do in the second novelish thing, but I at least need to acknowledge that he's leaving the stage for now. So I'm making a list of loose ends--but I also have a list of Things I Just Think Would Be Cool. There's going to be more of the Inventors Club, more about the Exhibition, and of two much-foreshadowed characters, one will actually show up, which I hadn't planned to have happen initially (not until the second or third novelish thing, anyway). In fact, the fate of That Character is actually very different now, and better, I think. So, you know. It's better that I'm over here trying to accomplish something with it than feeling miserable.