The true test of finishing a novel.

The true test of a novel is whether I'm absorbed by it all the way through.

I have half a dozen books that are between 30% to 60% finished. A couple of them were interrupted by other events, but most of them simply lost steam. It's hard to let 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 words go to waste, but if the stories can't engage my interest, there is no reason to believe they'll engage the interest of a reader.

Better to move on, spend my efforts on something that absorbs me in a way I can't deny.

I've run into writer's block before while still believing in a book. Usually that just means I need to figure out where I went off path and a different way to proceed.

A great example was "Led to the Slaughter." I managed to get the Donner Party all the way to the mountains and then couldn't figure out how to move the story forward. How do you show the cold and the hunger in a narrative way? They're stuck there. There needed to be lots of repetition to get it across and that couldn't be allowed to get boring.

It wasn't until I figured out that I could use day-to-day journal entries to get it across in a fresh way that I was able to keep going.

Anyway, with "Shadows over Summer House" I've been absorbed by the story all the way through--enough, even, to rewrite a full 25,000 words from scratch. I'm nearing the end and it all seems to be falling into place.

I don't know if this means it's any good, only that it has engaged my interest all the way through, and that would seem to be a true test of worthiness.

 * * *

I have reached the final chapters. All that's left to do is the actual heist and then write the big climactic fight.

What's very cool is that I've managed to keep the Big Twist to the very end, which I didn't expect. I mean, I suspect many readers will figure it out, but I think I've played fair, giving enough information and avoiding outright lying. (The lying, such as it is, is what the main character sees--or doesn't see--and that's part of the twist).

These last chapters are action scenes--which for me is always easier to do. Or to be more precise--they are easy to do and at the same time hard to do well.

I'm flying blind right now--this is about as far as I've gotten without detailed plans. Heist and Big Reveal and Big Fight. That's about all I know.

But it's there. I can feel it.