Here are a few strategies and resources that helped rethink my story (and get up the enthusiasm to tackle it again):
(1) a great article in the June 2010 issue of Writer Magazine: Artful Revelations by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. This three-page article points out the need for the revelations to force characters into action, leading naturally to the next revelation--in other words, revelations must have consequences. This sounds rather obvious as I write it, but this article helped me see how the events in my plot needed to fit together, and what the revelations are supposed to be accomplishing in each part of my story.
(2) I did a quick read-through of a favorite middle grade fantasy, jotting down the important events and revelations in each chapter (revelations are defined as surprising moments that drive the protagonist toward action or change ... a.k.a. turning points). Then I rewrote the turning points, leaving out information specific to that story, rephrasing it in very general terms that could apply to any novel. I categorized the characters as MC (main character), Antagonists (numbered, as there were more than one), and Helpfuls (numbered also). For example, my notes from chapter 17 say:
- Antagonist #2 thwarted.
- More explained/understood about evil plan
- Helpful #5 arrives
- Humor subplot with Helpful #2
- New humor subplot
(3) Plot Squares- if you process information visually, like me, this is a great way to get a look at the structure of your novel. This technique is explained very well in this thread on Verla Kay's Blueboards and also in this post by Suzette Saxton on the QueryTracker blog.
Edited to add: I FINALLY found where I originally learned of this technique: at the wonderful blog of Cynthia Jaynes Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets. Check it out!
(4) After I messed around with Plot Squares quite a bit, here's how I made an outline/flow chart of the whole novel:
- I turned a piece of notebook paper sideways (landscape orientation) and divided it in thirds vertically.
- I drew lines to divide it crosswise, about one inch apart.
- I made three pages like this, and taped them together top to bottom to create a chart three columns wide, but very long.
- I labeled the first column Act 1, the second Act 2, and the third Act 3.
- Then I began jotting down the main plot events in pencil in the order I wanted them to happen. Act 2, with all its complications, was about twice as long as Act 1 or Act 3.
Okay, back to revising. I'll let you know how it works out.