In my plotline, one of the characters travelling in a group gets separated from the rest and has to strike out on her own. So far, so good. When I first came up with my plotline, she got separated quite early on in the story. It provided me with two separate storylines that I could switch to and fro, breaking up the monotony of just following one story all the time.
But as I reached the point where she gets lost, I suddenly felt it was too early to break up the group. I wanted the characters to bond a bit more, and for the rest of the group (and, indirectly, the reader) to care more about her. She was a bit like the nameless ensign in Star Trek, who inevitably gets killed on the away mission. We don’t know him, so it’s okay for him to get screwed, because we don’t care so much.
So I decided for her to come along a bit further, planning to separate them a bit later on. Now I find I’m lacking the second storyline, and their journey is starting to bore me. While I write about the whole group, I find myself thinking about the storyline this character COULD be experiencing, IF she had gotten lost as I had planned originally. Also, I couldn’t find a good opportunity to lose her, and she ended up tagging along MUCH further than I wanted.
So now I’ve decided to stick to my original idea. I figured my “nobody-cares-about-the-ensign” theory was wrong, because we (the reader) still get to know her properly on her separate journey. Which means I’m now editing and rewriting 10 chapters of already finished story in order to erase her from the group. Very annoying.
This definitely teaches me to think about my outline properly before making big changes I can’t easily correct later. I wonder if other people go back and forth like this, too?