About two weeks ago, I realized the impracticality of hauling gold over a mountain (on foot) to a counterfeiter. Jewels are more easily portable, so I changed my pilfering from gold to jewels and my sooty-armed blacksmith/counterfeiter to an embroidered waistcoat-wearing jewel fence.
Yesterday, as I got into writing the road trip toward exchanging the pilfered riches for spendable currency and peered ahead toward that destination, I recalled the SWORD that is part of the bargain with the blacksmith/counterfeiter is crucial to the overarching plot of the series. I don’t have a good reason for Embroidered Waistcoat Fence to know about or want that sword, nor do I have a good reason for the protagonist to visit a blacksmith who does know about and want that sword in the absence of the counterfeiting angle.
So now the blacksmith/counterfeiter is also a jewel fence—perhaps not as a good at the latter as a specialist would be, but someone the protagonist trusts enough to discreetly handle the exchange. Not an elegant solution, but it solves both the gold problem and the sword problem I created while trying to solve the gold problem.
It also doesn’t deviate significantly from the outline, which is reassuring. There’s a danger of forcing things that don’t work to adhere to the outline if you’re too rigid about the plan. I threw out the entire first act and a major component of the premise, so rigid adherence isn’t an issue for me, but admitting such huge mistakes can raise doubts about how sound everything else is. If I poorly planned an entire first act, how can I trust my judgment about one scene?
Well, when I’m willing to make sweeping changes but the process keeps referring me back to the plan because the plan covers 99% of what I need and the 1% can be addressed with a couple of additional sentences, I feel a lot better about my powers of foresight.
The fact that I gutted the entire first act and didn’t have to gut the rest of the story to reflect the massive change should also perhaps reassure me, but “wrong place, wrong time, wrong character, wrong premise, but structurally, the events occurring are good” is too huge of a fluke to base my self-regard upon.
I’ve been saving the Wrong First Act story so I’d have something to say about the book after it’s out in the world, but I’m feeling grim about the future for multitudinous reasons, so that’ll be the subject of the next update, barring the emergence of a pressing rant.