I hope this never happens to me, though I can see how it might. I go to great lengths to have my plot and subplots thought out and planned long before I start chapter one. Having to change the main plot halfway through a manuscript means I either didn’t plan as well as I thought I did, or an idea struck me that was so profound it warranted changing (or even rewriting) the entire book. I could definitely see this happening to someone who sits down to write and lets their muse take lead.
But what if?
I think I would try to salvage as much of what’s been written as I could but be merciless to any words that no longer fit in. Kill your little darlings and all that. It’s hard to put aside or even toss pages I’ve worked on for weeks, considering I’m lucky to average five a day. I always keep at the forefront of my mind, “What’s best for the story?” If the story is no longer something I’d want to read, there’s no point in continuing to write it.
Once I was done slashing the unusable, I’d survey the damage, revisit my notes / outline and see what needs to be redone before moving on. It’s a lot of work, more than the average reader will ever know, but it’s also work worth doing. If I’m going to dedicate months of my life to a story, you can bet it’s going to be the best I can produce. It’s only when the book is done, when readers tell me if they enjoyed it, that I can decide if the change was worth the extra time and effort.
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