Decisive is a word rarely used to describe me. And by “rarely” I mean never. I’ve more or less learned to cope with this in my real life, but it has caused problems for me as I try to write this novel.
The main problem is that every time I make a decision I eliminate whole worlds of possibilities. Every time a character speaks or acts, it narrows the range of future words or actions. Each setting, each description, each word points the way down a road, and leaves behind all kinds of roads not taken. And of course the grass is always greener down the road not taken (with my sincere apologies to Robert Frost).
Every time I work on plotting the novel, my attention skips back to all the options I didn’t select. I want a do-over, just like I always want when I have to select an ice cream flavor. I’m always positive that the ones I don’t choose will be the ones I should have chosen, the ones that will taste better and not cause me to gain weight. Of course, with the novel I can have all the do-overs I want and revise from now to forever. Unless, you know, I want to actually finish the thing.
When I re-focused on what I wanted the book to be about I had to narrow down the very wide range of ideas and themes and characters and plot points I’d imagined. I was quite ruthless. And as hard as it was to keep my focus and not get distracted by any shiny new ideas, writing did become much easier when I had a clear and concise vision of my main purpose.
But when the “are sure you want to delete” message popped up, I couldn’t make myself trash the ideas forever. So—good news!—now I’m writing a trilogy.