The problem is that I’m on the third rewrite of this story. I’ve reached about 40K words each time, and then felt something was missing, or the pacing wasn’t right, or – well, you name it and I’ve felt it.
I started to think this was happening because I was a pantser, and that maybe I should plot my story more carefully. Then it occurred to me that these characters will still pop new ideas into my mind, however much I try to plot their story.
I’ve also discovered that some of my pre-planned ‘plot ideas’ simply don’t work. One example was having the heroine break her ankle, which seemed a good way to have her staying at the hero’s house for a time, instead of living on her own. After researching, however, I discovered that broken ankles can take weeks, if not months, to heal. That was going to restrict my heroine’s movements far too much. So forget the broken ankle (because I’m not into ‘magical’ recoveries such as we see in TV dramas and soap operas where someone is in a coma in one episode, and hey presto, magically restored to full health two weeks later). However, in abandoning that part of the story, I also had to ‘lose’ some good scenes between the hero and heroine.
Last week a new character appeared out of nowhere, and now I’m wondering if he has appeared at the right time or whether he should have appeared earlier.
I also have various scenes (from the first two drafts) and need to decide whether to keep or dump them, maybe to use in another story at some point.There are some characters who may have to go too e.g. do I really need the 'other' girl who is keen on the hero, or shall I forget about her?
And the characters still keep whispering, ‘What if…?’ If I use all these ideas, the novel could end up as long as ‘War and Peace’.
How do you choose which ideas to develop, and which to ignore – or retain for future stories?