So I'm starting over on the old novel in the hopes of making something salvageable enough to take to Write By The Lake. I think I'm making good progress, but frankly it's hard to tell. I spent most of Monday working on it, but only got about 2500 words done in 8+ hours. Of course, there were a lot of interruptions (The Bulldog did not like me ignoring him all day, especially as the yard and the sidewalks are all covered in ice), but I had really hoped to get more done. Still, I have a brand new chapter one, so I can't complain too much. All new stuff that wasn't in the old draft. I'm hoping the parts that are more re-writey will go faster.
I took a break at one point to read a couple of my short stories to try and get into the mood a bit better. It's kind of frustrating. I know how long I spent on those stories, and how many drafts they were. Not to toot my own horn too much, but some of them are freaking good. How can my short stories turn out so well and my novel attempts make me want to claw my eyes out?
One thing that helped was grabbing four novels off my bookshelf and reading the first twenty pages of each. In the short form there usually isn't a lot of room for setup, which is what I was working on. How much setting? How is it introduced? How quickly does the main character collide with the main conflict? How do we get to know the main character before the conflict? I'd recommend this approach to any writer - it's very instructive. The trick is to stop reading after twenty pages and not get sucked into the whole book.