Push On or Revise?

Push on obviously, but here’s the situation:

Last night when I was in that super-productive mental time when sleep is just about to hit, I realized I started my book in the wrong place. In fact, I’d stuck my protagonist in the wrong spot.

You want ridiculously extraneous background to that realization? You don’t? Too bad. My story is a big fantasy, but it sprang out of thinking about industrial disasters like Chernobyl. I wondered, what would a disaster of that scale look like in a medieval fantasy world? From there I scaled down to local disasters because my little part of the world has had a lot. A book about the Ocean Ranger, an oil rig that sunk off Newfoundland in 1982 (all 84 crew members died), gave me a tighter focus. I wanted to write a novel about people in a small community dealing with tremendous loss, and how that caused some to be comforted and others to be outcast.

Enter my protagonist, who’s the daughter of one of the men killed in the disaster. She’s young when it happens, but her mom ensures the impact on her is always clear and present because she refuses to accept that her husband is dead. Add in the act that the mom is ‘come-from-away’ (a local term here for people who weren’t born in the community) and the community soon begins to treat her like a pariah.

Originally I had the mother and my protag, Lil, move away from that village to the home community of Lil’s mother. This amplified Lil’s isolation, giving her a wonderfully surly and oppositional outlook, but last night I realized I didn’t need to do that. The characters in the original village were going to be key players anyway, so this one-village-removed thing was just complicating matters. I could have Lil and her mother never leave, but have that same sense of isolated outsider. I could also solve a slew of little issues I was trying to patch in the first 5,000 words.

BUT, I am not rewriting. Or at least not in my main writing time. After much agonizing I’ve decided that I’m simply going to pick up where I dropped off, but pretend everything in the first 5,000 words happened in Lil’s home village. I really am serious about not losing momentum. I will make copious notes about the new beginning, and maybe even start rewriting it in the evening, but during my morning block of time when my brain is freshest, it’s full steam ahead on the main story.

Get the first draft done. Revise then. That is my mantra.

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