Just recently I was thrown a curve ball in my life. I was informed that I might have to make some major changes that I was not prepared for. It came as a hard blow and tripped my emotions intensely. I felt lost and am still working to figure out exactly how to deal with everything in my life but it occurred to me that at some point I am going to have to sit down and figure out a precise path to follow.
In writing we have to do the same thing with our characters. We have to have a path for them to follow to get from our first encounter to the ending that completes their story. There are of course twists and turns in the journey, otherwise it would be a boring story. Ultimately however it is vital to have a clear idea of where they are going and how they will get there.
There have been many times that I have wished that I could step back from my personal life and jump ahead to see what the right decision would be. I want to skip the pain and frustration to see how the story ends and find a way to get there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there is no ariel view of life. Instead we feel so many different emotions surging through us at one time it can be overwhelming and cause us to try and make contradicting decisions when trying to solve our issues.
When a story if first drafted and we are getting all of the information down on the pages it can be easy to lose track of what we are trying to say and where we are trying to go. Like real life, it can get messy. That is one of the biggest reasons that editing is so important. When you lose track of where you are going it is a guarantee that your readers will too.
I have done it a number of times when I get the first draft written and go back through it I have to laugh at the odd directions I have taken. I find it incredible that my characters even show up at the end and don't have to stop and ask for a map to get through the forest of my mind. It is then that I must go back through and find the true storyline so that I can erase random information that isn't needed at bring tangents back on track.
Just remember that like life it may take some time but it is vital to find one path and stick to it to make the most of your story and bring everyone along for the journey.