So, when I write fanfic, I have a pretty decent outline of the story, but I only write a handful of chapters – at most – ahead of time before I post. Mostly because I have a low level of patience and an obsessive need to edit ad eternum if I don’t get something published as soon as possible.
My major struggle in novel writing has really been pushing myself to move ahead to the next chapter even if the one I’m currently on isn’t perfect. And….it’s a real struggle. It’s been super hard to convince my brain that I don’t need to have every last detail worked out right away; I can always fix it later. But on the other hand, if I don’t exactly what two characters talk about in chapter 3, how can I write them interacting in chapter 4? I won’t get the tone right. And if the tone isn’t right in chapter 4, how can I have any idea what I need to do in chapter 5??
I have about 3 semi-complete chapters so far, and was doing pretty well writing every day; getting each chapter to maybe 80% done, so that I know basically what happens, who’s there, what’s said, and what I’m setting up next.
Then I hit a bit of a roadblock: In the original concept of the story that’s been in my head for like, a decade, I had protagonists 1 and 2, and antagonist 1. In the climax, protagonist 2 kills antagonist 1. Cool.
During my NaNoWriMo writing, I came up with the idea of antagonist 2. I really love antagonist 2; they slot nicely into the backstory and are a pretty good foil for both protagonists. Also, having protagonist 2 kill antagonist 1 in the original idea left protagonist 1’s character arc pretty flat.
So, as I start my real first draft (i.e. rewriting post-Nano), I decide that antagonist 1 is dead at the start of the story, and antagonist 2 is the baddie. Great!
But now I’m at the end of chapter 3, thinking forward to the climax, and…you know, killing off antagonist 1 before the story even starts isn’t very satisfying; plus it’s a lot harder to work in backstory information in a way that feels natural. So I start thinking, okay, what if antagonist 1 isn’t dead, but is maybe just mostly off screen for most of the book. And as a conclusion for protagonist 1’s character arc, it really doesn’t work.
That kind of works. They’ll survive to be an antagonist in the second book. Antagonist 2 can be killed by either protagonist at the end of the first book, but having 1 score the defeat while 2 fails to succeed in killing them will be perfect for both character arcs.
I think I like that? But it means I’ll need to do some revamping of chapters 1-3 (which I’m trying really, really hard not to do yet), and do a bit more thinking about the timeline and motivations for antagonist 2. Which is good, because it’ll give me something to work on – my motivation completely stalled out while I was trying to figure out this problem.
My overall outline shouldn’t change too much; I won’t really know until I sit down and actually write the chapters.
Which I will do this week. Because I have no more excuses for procrastination.