Sometimes when writing a story, I suddenly realize the best approach to tell it. When this happens, the entire story comes into focus and go off and revise it according to my vision.
That happened this week while revising the first 30 chapters of Book 3. I began reading the story to remember what was in there but as I went I began to see loose ends -- plots not completed, actions not taken, and so on -- so I went in and began making corrections.
But even as I did that, revising for continuity, I began to see where the story was going. I was apparently trying to get the characters to mistrust Nancy. But I was doing it as an afterthought. I decided if that was the goal, it would be better to plant clues early and build toward mistrust.
So I did. Now I start almost immediately after meeting her. The characters notice a few odd things. I also have her try to pry into their affairs -- a total stranger. We might not think much of that but they have enemies and need to be careful who they confide in.
After the third odd comment from Nancy, Ahlan begins to have doubts about her. Then when he talks to Brashani, who does not trust her because he is the suspicious type by nature, that part of the plot ignites and they try to learn as must about her as they can without tipping their hand. None of this helps and so they must wait a little. In the meantime, the tension builds because they are attacked by an evil elf, who happens to be one of the aforementioned enemies they have.
All these revisions are now complete and the novel is better I think but I still need to go back and read it again from the start to ensure these changes work. The important thing is I now have a plan in regard to the opening of the book. That's important because even in Book 4, I need to hook the reader. If I don't he or she won't read Book 5.
The moral here is this: pay attention to what you are doing in your story. If you moving in a direction, then commit to it. Plan for that action from the start and revise the story accordingly. If you are lost, and the story seems aimless, stop and think what changes you can make to get back on track.
Above all, revise, revise, revise. And don't stop until the story is saying what you want to.
Keep writing everyone.