I’m closing in on the completion of the first draft of my novel, and I have finally, definitively realized that I made one huge mistake in my plotting. I revealed a secret too soon, and as a result everyone’s motivations for the rest of the story are messed up. So, should I go back and start rewriting? Or should I soldier on to the finish, knowing that I’m going to have to revise a lot of what I’m currently writing?
I believe the answer, alas, is to soldier on and complete the first draft. The problem with stopping to rewrite is that I can’t know what else I’ve messed up until I get to the end and survey the damage.
The mistake stems from not having a clear enough idea of the various subplots when I began the thing. So I’ve ended up with a bunch of characters who weren’t there in the original outline. They just, er, showed up as I made my way through the story, and I never managed to integrate them well enough into the plot.
I always think: next time I’ll get everything right in the outline. But I never do. I figure out the journey I want to take, but there are always lots of unexpected detours before I get where I want to go.