Only four more days of planning until I take up the pen again, in a manner of speaking, and start channeling these characters and their incredibly complicated tale. At least I have a title now--The Bitter River--and can quit calling the project by a character or city name. Today, while talking to slmcgaw, I also realized, that I wasn't making any progress with the scene list because I was trying to plan the book as if it consisted of one, linear story. That's not the case at all. Once I broke it up into the necessary three parts, plot points starting falling together. I'm still far from having a scene list that is coherent, much less cohesive, but it's a beginning. Something I really, really, really want to do from the outset this time is make sure every scene has a clear goal, important stakes, and character development. I don't want to have to graft those things on next draft. The drawback is that when I start trying to think about scenes in these terms, my brain freezes up.
I asked queenoftheskies today how she went about building a scene list, but if anyone else would like to share their process in the comments, I'd like to hear it.
I still haven't gotten to the bottom of the oh-so-difficult, "What is this story about?" question because I'm one of those writers who has a vague idea but knows something deeper will come out in the writing. In other words, I won't know what I'm trying to say until I say it. On a positive note, though, blabbing to mana_trinireally helped me find the focus in the third storyline, which gave me an additional angle to use to bring the three plots together and give them resonance.
However, something tells me it won't be as easy as all that given the book's structure; a large part of it will be letters, diary entries, translations from ancient tablets, journal clippings. Anyone have any recs for good epistolary works? (Not too worried about genre at this point)