Tonight I finished my initial stab at charting out what my main characters think of one another. It's certainly subject to change as things progress and I start to get a better handle on the character's voice in my head.
But as I thought about plotting, I came to realize that the biggest reason my plotting was so vague (and my third act nonexistent) was that I still hadn't sat down to think about who my antagonist is going to be, and what he's trying to do. From my own personal tastes, I don't want to write a one-dimensional hand-wringing villain. I'd much rather have a character who believes he's doing something necessary, but his actions place the conflict into the story.
I was mining the back-story I'd written for my characters in an effort to find a villain there. I'd come up with a possibility, but I felt that it weighed the story too heavily in the direction of one of my characters - one who doesn't lend himself to being very likable. I asked my friend Caine to look at what I was thinking, and he agreed that it could work. I still felt it was going to need some work, but while I was thinking about it, Caine offered to share another idea in case I was still looking for characters. I'm always eager to hear others' ideas - even if they don't fit with what I'm trying to do, they usually send my thinking in an unexpected direction. It was just such a mental ricochet that helped provide me with a strong candidate for my antagonist. I know who he is, what he's trying to do, why, and why he's making his move now.
I know sometimes I get paranoid about taking others' ideas, and worried that I'm not doing my work myself. But when I'm feeling less neurotic, it's a great thing to have someone you can bounce ideas off of. He sent me an e-mail a little later with something he wasn't sure was working and it sounds like I might've been able to help return the favor some. He's working on a project as well, and when it's ready I'll talk about it here (and elsewhere). From what I've seen, it's something I really want to read more of.
I didn't fully flesh out my antagonist though. I want to leave that to start with tomorrow. I really like the idea, so I'm hoping that'll help me build momentum early during my next shift at work. I feel like I made some decent progress tonight and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.