I was looking through my notebook yesterday, and found the first drafts of the first scenes of Wind Age. The scene that came, in third person, to start the whole thing, takes up a few pages; and then on the first page after it comes the first-person scene which is now the beginning. I remember writing the original first scene, but not the other one. That is, I remember where I was and what I was doing for the former, but with the latter all those details have slipped my mind, and I only remember my excitement at hearing Alfhild’s voice and finally getting into this thing.
Some people write the story in order from beginning to end, starting with the opening scene and ending with the end. Others start somewhere, possibly in the middle, and work on whatever scene has their interest at the time. I haven’t developed a method yet. It depends on the story.
Wind Age started with three scenes important to the plot, and then afterward I filled in the things around them. The two “first scenes” came first, of course, and then the baptism scene. I wrote the climax as soon as I had the idea for it, but refused to write the ending scene until I had written everything else. I couldn’t show anybody’s triumph properly unless I knew everything they’d gone through to get to that point.
I also did my research as I went along, so the later a scene was written, the more accurate it was likely to be. My first round of revisions took care of some of that, but even letting it sit for six weeks isn’t quite the same as having fresh eyes to look at it. My betas have noticed lots of things — like the scene where I used sceatta, penny, and copper to refer to the same coin, without knowing that copper coins weren’t period. But that’s what they’re for.
The organization may change yet again, if I swap scenes around so that the “original first scene” becomes the first scene again, and everything from Part I becomes backstory. I did try to do it that way, only ended up having to cram far too much into backstory, without which the story wouldn’t have made sense, so I took the risk of having the story start with the slow-moving childhood years. For most of us, unless we’re the heroes of typical fantasy, not a whole lot seems to happen when you’re a child, and you don’t really notice until afterward.