I got to the halfway point of the work in progress on Friday, so I figured it would be a good idea to go back over that part over the weekend, since it’s easier to rewrite half a book if something’s gone wrong than it is to rewrite a whole book. I was okay with the parts I read over the weekend. Then Monday morning I realized I’d made a big goof.
I’d made the villain do something that was convenient for my plot and nice and dramatic but that made no sense, that was counterproductive to the villain’s goals, and that was out of character for the villain. I’ve spent the last couple of days rewriting to fix it, and I think that’s actually going to make things easier going forward. The tricky part has been keeping the things I like in the new context.
I go back and forth on whether to plow through a book then do rewrites after I’ve written the whole book or to revise as I go. I generally learn things near the end that change the beginning, so there’s no point in rewriting the beginning until I know the end. On the other hand, it’s easier to rewrite a chapter or two than to have to fix a whole book. I’ve compromised by doing chunks. I don’t try to revise as I go, but I’ll go back and revise halfway through, or perhaps a quarter through a longer book. If I get stuck and feel like the book’s not going well, I’ll stop wherever I am and review things. But this book is a good case study for taking a look every so often even when I feel like it’s going well because it hadn’t occurred to me that the villain did the murder the wrong way until I re-read it. And even then, I didn’t realize it until I was writing out what the villain and the other characters were doing at the same time to make sure it was all lining up, and then I had that “wait a second, why would he do it that way?” moment.
I initially got into the “push through the whole book” habit because when I first started writing, I tended to write the first couple of chapters over and over but never finished a book. I had to make myself plow through the whole thing without revising in order to finish a book. By now, I figure I know I can finish a book, so editing along the way is okay. I still have a moment of guilt when I go back, though.
I think I’ve got it fixed now, but I do have to consider how it affects the rest of the plot going forward. And now I need to write the second half of the book (well, a little less, since I’m now closer to the 2/3 point). I’ve told myself that if I have a draft finished before Labor Day weekend, I get to take a long holiday weekend to rest, relax, and reboot, so I’m motivated to get it done.