We all have a plan, regardless of how big or small, and we make decisions in an effort to set those plans in motion while we ponder “now if I do that, then it will get me here?” However, we often neglect to take into consideration, while laying out our plan, that reactions from other parties could ultimately redirect us. Maybe someone reacts sourly to one of your ideas, so you in turn revamp that idea. Or maybe someone laughs at a prospective endeavor you’ve created, and you in turn put it aside for a rethink — or you run with the wind, trying to find something, and you find yourself. It may take weeks, months, or years for you to discover that you are now wandering down a completely different path. What do you do? Well, some would be happy with the detour, others not so much, looking back trying to see where they were misled.
All of the above is also true in writing. Our characters struggle with those everyday decisions as well. As in real life, an author doesn’t always know when our stories have headed down a forgotten trail. It all seems fine until, as in life, we are presented with a different outcome than what was planned. There have been many a book on the cusp of being finished, when the author realizes that the story preceding it doesn’t, in any way, lead to the ending that was perceived. And usually the turn of the tide happened somewhere deep within the novel, where one of our characters reacted differently than what was in the script. Now we can go back and rewrite the reaction so as to give us the outcome we want. Or we can leave it… Life doesn’t give us that choice: what is done, is done. However, as it is writing, you have the free will to change the ending.