If writing a novel is like taking a cross-country road trip to visit a friend's new home, then I never had a map, lost the very sketchy directions I'd written down, and have forgotten whether my friend moved to California or Washington.
I meant to be writing up to the government's official decision to rebel (or not) against the empire, but the story veered in another direction, and now far far too much stuff has to happen before then. I've got 70k words now and that's too late to start addressing new issues. Things are moving forward at a rapid clip, and the story'll get there eventually, just not in this book.
(Yes, it's a series. This is book 2. If I'm lucky they all stand alone. If I'm unlucky I get a big pile of scratch paper.)
I do have a great climactic scene in mind that, as an ending, would resolve the questions raised in this book very nicely while leaving the larger questions waiting for later in a slightly-more-defined state. Might be too melodramatic though.
I also have, finally, a lame one-sentence summary for the book: Two friends struggle to come to terms with their estranged families while helping their adopted homeland reunite with its parent empire. (Or not.)
magicnoire linked to a joint blog run by Bob Mayer and Jenny Crusie, which is a year-long workshop that looks really interesting. The first two lessons were on the one-sentence summary concept. I find it useful as a way of focusing on what the story's about, but I keep revising it as I write and the focus changes.