I haved tried to do something a little different over the last few months and set off into a new novel without much of the usual planning and pre-work.
The initial sprint lasted a little over three chapters. Then I sort of tanked. I had sketched a basic plot, and tried to get further into the story, but the pace was woeful. There was just something wrong - I could sense an unease with the work that was stopping me. Finally, after a couple of frustrating weeks, I decided to stop and really listen to that little warning voice and try to understand what was going on.
After a bit of belly-gazing, I realised that I had missed a crucial element of my own process. Since then I have gone back to the drawing board and pretty much returned to the same sort of approach I have used in the past.
Not that there was anything wrong with the writing itself on a craft level - it was surprisingly good considering the sprint - just that it was underpinned with an unease that I had perhaps failed to nail the essential essence of the thing and that I had not woven in enough complexity.
It looks like I really need to 'front end load' the story and characters before I can move through the story. I need to understand what is going on inside each of the characters at an emotional level. I need to do enough plotwork to have an instinctive sense for what is moving in the background of the story, for what threads are weaving in through the main action. I also need to have a fundamental confidence in the core concept - particularly if it is science fiction (which this one is). I love the 'wow' concepts, but there is enough engineer in me to need the things that surround that to be entirely credible.
Now I am a happy camper. I am back writing again and moving forward at my typical pace. I would have to say the off-the-cuff novel with little pre-work was probably an experimental failure for me, although it was a lot of fun at the beginning!
How about you? Can you set off happily into unknown territory?