A couple of weeks ago I decided to restart my current WIP after getting four chapters into my first draft. Despite following my outline and keeping with my proposed character development, there was a major flaw growing in the storytelling which I did not want in my story. One of my characters was in danger of developing a mindset akin to Stockholm Syndrome, but that does not match up with who and what he is. So I started over and added a new character who would help alleviate this flaw.
Some writers would say you shouldn’t bother starting over. Just throw in the new character and continue on with the plot from where you are. You can always go back and fix the first few chapters during rewriting and editing. But I don’t like to work this way. As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks back (Beginnings are Hard), laying down a strong beginning can help you decide if where you’re starting in your plotline is appropriate for the story. Beginnings set the tone and seeing as tone is what I’m trying to fix with this new character, rewriting the beginning seems the most logical course of action to me.
In adding this new character, I am changing the dynamics between the other characters whom I had already established. The story feels more natural now and more mature. My previous protagonist no longer feels conflicted in personality. He only needs to fill one role in the plot instead of two, and this gives the secondary protagonist a much healthier dynamic with him. The new character takes some of the weight of the plotline now which didn’t make sense applied to the previous main protagonist, and I’m having fun establishing his backstory and how he became involved with the other two.
If you see a dynamic growing in your own first draft which does not fit with the story you wish to tell, it’s okay to start over. As writers we should be creating the stories which we want to read. If you don’t like where the development of your characters is headed, take some time to sit back and figure out why you don’t like it and what about it is bothering you the most. Adding a new character as I have may not be the solution to your own dilemma. You may need to get some outside input from another storyteller to find a fix. Just remember, we write for ourselves first and others second. If you don’t enjoy your own stories, then writing becomes a burden rather than a passion for expression.