Right, so the rumours are in fact true. Despite my incredible silence on this blog my new novel has been started and stands at a nicely confirming 7500 fully revised words. I won't go into the plot too much as it's early days in that respect but I think the process I've taken this time is worth chronicling in some way.
First of all, when I started work on my novel it wasn't this novel. It was a similar book that shared a lot of the same characters but was from the perspective of what is now a minor character. I went over each of my planned “introduce X character” sequence and wrote them out, around 2000 words a piece. I did this for each of the would-be central characters. What was interesting about this is that it highlighted very quickly some aspects that were “wrong” in my original plan.
The biggest one of these revelations was that the person I had earmarked for antagonist was far too boring to fill that role, I say boring and that sounds a little mean. It was more like it was a character that aligned with me too well, it raised no questions for me and certainly didn't promise any answers. Similarly it emerged that some of those supporting characters were too plain, too fixture like in my world. As I wrote about them it felt like I had written it all out before, that's no good.
And the big surprise was that one of those supporting characters was challenging, interesting.Something I hadn't really touched on in my writing before so they got promoted to antagonist.
This approach didn't just highlight my errors to me either, it prepared some of the hardest part of the track, something like sending out scout parties to verify your assumptions. I'll still add characters and situations as I go, I'll remain fluid as I need to but there is ground prepared in places and that provides a lot more confidence than I'd usually have access to. It's proved to be an interesting approach even if it did emerge organically.