I swear, I think every single novel has a different writing process. No matter how amazing my “new system” is, when it comes time to write the next book, I find myself doing something different.
What hasn’t changed yet, and I don’t think ever will, is the 1/2 – 2/3 mark of the first draft. Around this time is when all of the ideas swimming around in my head or the outline need to be set in stone, inscribed as hard commandments.
Every book I write is plotted out in advance: endings, character arcs, pivotal scenes. I have ideas for all of these things. But that doesn’t mean they always work. A funny thing happens as the words materialize on the computer screen. Characters evolve. Settings change. Themes emerge.
This is the point when all the final questions must be answered. The road to the end of a novel must not be arbitrary. You need to know where you’re going to get there elegantly. It’s much better than winging it (and it saves on gas!).
Anyway, it’s not like things are set in stone yet. The first draft is only the beginning- then the revision phase rips all of that to shreds.