If you could go back in time

What would you change?

In terms of your serial I mean.

Unless you're some kind of all-knowing omniscient being (or just really good at outlining), there are probably some things you'd like to go back and change if you could, right? I don't mean typos or grammar issues or things that you could fix without anyone noticing. I mean plot points that had a rippling impact you can't just erase. Or characterizations that were many chapters in the making and can't just be altered on a whim.

You know, those moments when you sit back and look at everything you've done so far and thought '...geez why didn't I do THAT, that's WAY better?'

For my part, the worst of those moments I've ever had was when my cowriter and I were thinking of alternate universes for Caelum Lex and realized how much more awesome it would be if our two main characters swapped starting positions (Leta's the space pirate on the dingy ship and Fiearius the guy trying to escape his home), thus changing the absolute entirety of the story. Or how I wish Cyrus was the same race as his brother...Which is just a bad design choice, really. Or maybe it'd be more interesting if a certain dead character was never dead after all and lived on the spaceship with everyone. I have a long list of these...

So what about you? Hop in the Delorean. What're you gonna do?

Get a buffer. At least 3 months worth. AND plan the side-stories better and buffer them too.

That's the big one for me. Content-wise I've never deviated significantly from my initial plans and I have not regretted sticking to them.

I'd go back about 50 edits and make the first few chapters not be horribly written. I can't believe no one honestly told me just how bad they were. Then again, if they did, I might have quit.

After all those edits, I feel much more comfortable about the initial arcs. But I don't want to know how many potential readers I scared away early on. :(

I would never have let them get out of town. No joke, really.

I built this city with more background than I could possibly have used, and then I dumped my chars into red-neck backwater because that was the standard way to run a fantasy novel. *shudder*

And no, I'm not going to rewrite that story.

At least the one I'm peddling here has faults all shiny and new ;)

Ha ha ha... it's funny because my main character can travel in time. She'd change it if she wanted!

Okay, seriously, in my personified math -- splitting into groups in Series 4. Bad idea. Yet it was my initial plan, I had subject options from others weeks in advance, a large buffer... despite ALL that, one group fizzled out, after which I simply could NOT get the groups to reunite. Because somehow it no longer made narrative sense. As always, I took it as a challenge, and eventually stuff worked itself out, and for all I know it looked like the plan all along. But yeah, splitting into groups? Was a bad idea.

I wouldn't go back in time yet... I think my unfortunate decisions with my story built some character into it, and now with webnovels I'm kind of starting fresh.

@Dennis & Chrysalis that must be nice to only want technical changes haha Though I can certainly relate to that too. Reading old chapters is torture on so many levels. But at least style and grammar changes can be pretty easy to make, right?

@Sten hey that's a good attitude! I do think there's something to simply learning from your mistakes and take that knowledge moving forward instead of constantly mucking around with things from the past. That just starts an endless cycle. Nothing will ever be perfect. Artists will never be satisfied.

@mathtans now that I can specifically understand. I also made a big group split somewhere along the line and while I don't totally regret it, it was the right choice for the characters, god it can be hard to write sometime. I'm so used to other forms of media, particularly visual forms, television, comics, etc, where A and B storylines are so much easier to manage, but in writing? Awful. Who knew?

@TimNoel starting fresh is great! And webnovels are a great place to do that and hopefully learn a ton. A ton that may or may not cause you to look back in a couple years and cringe :) No pressure...

If I could go back in time, I don't think I would change anything. The thing is, I want to do something that I can complete, and if I spent a whole bunch of time just sitting around, there's a good chance it would never get done ever.

I live in fear of having an answer to this question.

TGaB is nine months in, probably over 500,000 words (I'm not about to through and count), and so far I am pleased with how it has shaped up. Rather unnervingly pleased, in fact; I'd have expected some sort of mess to unfold before now. I have a specific idea of where the story is going, both the overall plot and specific arcs, but I frequently don't know how it's going to get there until I sit down and begin typing. This is a recipe for eventual plot holes, and I sometimes feel like I'm dodging bullets.

I've had one side story that sort of fizzled out because I severely underestimated how much story was there. It started as a bonus chapter, then turned into two when I hit 5K words and was (I thought) halfway to the climax. Then the second chapter, at which it was already the longest bonus by far, got about halfway the rest of the way there, and I made the call to wrap it up before the climax I'd intended in order to get the main story back in front of the readers before they lost patience with me. It was just a bonus chapter, sure, but the whole thing felt awkward and unsatisfying.

In the end I was able to shuffle things so that the conclusion to that is going to be in the main story itself, which I think improves both. Still...that was a side chapter. One of these days something is going to go wrong in my main story, I just know it, and I'm not sure how I'll fix that.

A cowboy's work is never done, so if I ever develop this random power, I'll be editing until perfection. Considering I'm still making tweaks here and there, if anyone asked me how long has this been going on, I'd honestly have to say just enough to keep me hanging on. Let this be a lesson to you: if magic is in the air, one small step will take me for a little while 'cause I'm a working girl.


Anyway, to give you a real answer, I've kind of been doing this. I had a very lengthy roleplay that evolved into TOKoR, so all the major hiccups and bumps you'd expect have already been ironed out in its current state (more or less). I had a lot of big concepts that only appeared later in the RP and, hell, the 'plot' of it didn't even exist until 200 K words in. Now, all those elements are being introduced or hinted at properly.

I know such and such will happen, so I can build a foundation for it. Since I know so and so is important, I bring them in early. The pacing is like night and day now - all the problems with jumping awkwardly ahead, speeding up and then dragging on have been fixed, or at least very, very justified. I'm also so aware and in control of the romantic angle I want, that unlike before when the other person said her female character was in freaking love with my male character after A DAY, I'm going to take it down a distinctly less creepy, Disney road.

plotting the middle, and making character maps. I kept losing track of little details, and got stuck knowing where I was, where i was going, and not quite sure how I was getting there. (JUST figured that out, five years later, and started back up, lol)

DD, youve done amazingly. I know the side story you speak of, and I cant WAIT to see how that all panned out, she reminds me way too much of an ex of mine. (and yes, I do identify WAY too much with gabriel. In my case, the hell blood comes from my father, but hey. )

I have a dreadful habit of starting a dozen or more plot threads and then only wrapping up 6 or 7. Then when I'm reminded of them I wrap them up in the next arc and pretend I didn't forget them <_< So people think I'm smart when really I'm just forgetful.

I've actually reconsidered. If I could go back in time, I would have made sure I had made the format for my serial more suited to be, well, a web serial. Right now, its designed from the ground up to be a book. Which would be fine, if I was writing a book...