When it comes to writing novels, there are rules to follow, and rules to break. Often they are the same rules.
Some people start the beginning and finish at the end. The edit as they go, and have only one or two drafts.
Personally, I love a good edit. I therefore follow this maxim from Hemingway:
“Write drunk, edit sober. “
My first draft is written from start to finish, without looking back. Sometimes I know the ending, sometimes it reveals itself.
The second draft involves a lot of deleting as plot and characters are refined.
Third draft puts colour into the pros and dialogue. Fourth draft and I get what Neil Gaiman calls
“Down amongst the words”.
Occasionally several of these steps need to be repeated. A Bridge Of Straw saw seven drafts.
Ultimately, if you want to write something to the best of your own ability, you need to take time to polish and refine, something that I’m learning all the time. Ultimately, I try to follow the message from this final quote from Blaise Pascal:
“I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter, I didn’t have time to write a shorter one.”