With my recent writing pace I've been averaging about a chapter a day (less or more on weekends depending) and about 40 chapters to a story. It is a system that works for me. The progress is nice to have. The number of chapters makes me feel accomplished. Best of all, the momentum is keeping me going.
However, the other day I got bit by the bug. You know the one. The bug that tells you what you're working on now is crap and that you should switch gears to this other story. The bug bit me pretty hard. Ideas and scenes flashed before my eyes. I could smell parts of the world. Hear the scrape of steel on steel. It was quite the vivid moment. I was tempted to give in. Thankfully, I've messed up enough times in recent memory to recognize some of the faults. What I had were random ideas and glimpses, not an idea for a plot or even a solid premise. Sure, I had plot points. And yes, I had character elements. But I didn't have full characters, nor a coherent idea. Still, the idea did seem fun.
Looking at my current WIP at the time I had about 15 chapters to go before hitting chapter 40 and the end of my first draft. That made one solution easy to try.
See, last year at GenCon among other things I grabbed a copy of Michael Stackpole's 21 Days to a Novel. I've flipped through the PDF, stolen some of the ideas, but I've never run through the thing whole hog. This, I decided, was my chance to give it a shot.
How does it work? Simple. Every day I need to finish the work on my WIP for the day (finish a chapter, begin the next.) After that, I can follow that day's step for 21 days to a novel. The book works by slowly stepping you through fleshing out one, then two, and then finally three characters before cementing them in the world (and the world around them) and gearing up towards a story. The idea is that by 21 days you have 3 interesting and realized characters who can interact and be at cross purposes with each other.
So far I've done 3 days and am working on chapter 28 of my current WIP. The first character coming out of the 21 days pdf is interesting. Maybe interesting enough to be in the next WIP?
I guess we'll see.