Anyhow, I write in chunks. This novel came in bouts of threes--three acts and three sections per act (yes, there's some funky numerology at work, just go with it). While I didn't avoid the muddle in the middle per se, that damage spread out among the three acts. However, I'm a firm believer in happy accidents and trusting my gut when I write; anytime I have *ever* gone with my red flags or hunches, it's paid off ("The Girl in the Green Sequined Dress" and both Model Mark robots stories come immediately to mind). Here, though, whatever infodumping might have wound up in the novel comes in the form of interstitial bits: news clippings, obits, letters, even episodic chapters from the POV of a POV character who shapeshifts into a crow. In each act, there are around three to four addenda that need filling in to the bubbles left behind in the narrative. I can't even say entire chapters at this point because there come little scenes, too, what require attention. Tidbits and such. In fact, based on how I set up a horse named Tater in the final chapters of Act 1 along with Tater's ghost in the rest of the book--there are a good many ghosts in this story and two of them being critters--it's a matter of going back and writing a smallish scene with a very young version of the protag and the horse.
In my mind's eye, it's always been a question of "Where's this act ending? What's it setting up?" And then writing to those points. Definitely helped me with characters' motivations through and through.
What's it all really mean?
Lots of grunt work, still. I sat down last week and identified those aforementioned bubbles. In many respects, with the damage done to them--and I put them through the mill--what's on deck seems like so much pouring salt in their physical and psychic wounds. Even spiritual. But them's the breaks, folks (and characters). What's already in the text and needs excising? It's not concerning me much because, in many respects, leaving those narrative bubbles in play allow latitude; never once did I feel I'd written myself into a corner, but during the climactic chapters, I had to be quite careful.
So, just a bit about process is all.