Every time I learn something about writing that resonates with me, I slap my forehead and immediately wish I had done things differently. For example, in the YA paranormal novel I'm working on now, I didn't think too much about the antagonist before I started. I had an idea for a setting, a heroine, and a really cool set of superpowers. So I set out, and when I hit about 50,000 words, I started wondering about my antagonist. Who was he? What made him tick? And most importantly, how did he fit into my story?
I had written myself into a corner, in some ways. Introducing the antagonist 2/3rds into a book is poor form. I knew I had lots of rewriting in my future, but it wasn't until I read Kristen Lamb's post on antagonists that I realized I was about two months late in asking these questions. I should have sat down, crafted my villain, and had him immediately start interacting with my heroine. This pitfall will be easier to avoid in the future, now that I have squarely landed in it, but that leaves me with lots and lots of work to do on my current book.
While this feels like a set-back, a frustration that could leave me pulling my hair out, it also feels good. For a long time, I didn't write anything because I felt like an idiot every time I wrote a boring paragraph or started too many sentences with "She." Writing anything book length was out of the question--think of all of the disastrous ways that could go wrong!! To have this kind of structural problem with my book means that I'm trying--hell, I'm actually doing it. Failing, yes, but picking myself up as well.
So I'm still plugging away at this novel, hoping to begin my first set of real re-writes next month. But I'm tucking lesson #238 about writing into my writing toolbox: Start with the bad guy in mind.