I’m trying a new thing while I work on my current novel, which is sort of a blend between discovery writing and proper outlining. I spent a couple months worldbuilding and making notes on my characters, and an outline of the “high points” in the novel and the order in which they were going to happen. For the smaller details, though, I’ve decided to sort those out while I write, basically because I was getting tired of worldbuilding and wanted to get my first draft down so I could start building upward from there.
So far, it’s been fun. Except that I got about two chapters in and wondered if I was starting my characters in the wrong spot, and if the narrative would be stronger by changing their positions a bit. So I went back and rewrote, found that I liked it, and made it as far as the start of Chapter Five before realizing that I had made a horrible mistake. I had chosen my original set-up for some particular reasons, and those reasons made my main protagonist much more likable and the story much more engaging. So now I’m going back, blending my two versions a little, and telling myself that I am not allowed to backtrack anymore.
I feel really bad for the guy I’m exchanging chapters with.
But I’ve also heard that this is part of what discovery writing entails: you might come up with something really cool in Chapter Eight or Chapter Twenty-Seven, and realize that to make it work you have to change a bunch of stuff further back in the narrative. Provided it’s small changes, take the advice of countless talented writers and wait until revision to fix everything. Only go back when it is absolutely necessary – which I think it was here, as long as I don’t do it again. I do want to finish this novel at some point before I’m an old man.
Yep, so that’s where I’m at, fellow writers. Back to the grind!