How much of a story do you map out before beginning to write a novel? Do you do extensive outlining and adhere rigidly to it, with all the major plot points calculated in advance? Also, how many drafts does a novel of yours typically take before you're satisfied, and do the rewrites usually consist of substantial structural changes, or are they more along the lines of polishing? Thanks!
Cool questions, Aslan! For me, every story is different with regard to what I know or don't know before putting fingers to keyboard. For THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, I knew two major events would happen, but those occurred in the first scene and at the end of the first fourth of the book. After that, I really had no idea. With EXORCIST ROAD, I only knew the scenario and flew completely blind. It was exhilarating and terrifying. When I wrote DUST DEVILS, I only had the first scene...so I guess to answer your question, I mostly let my characters drive the car.
Regarding rewrites, I employ an extremely rigorous, borderline insane editing process that currently involves eighteen different waves of focus. I don't ordinarily do substantial structural changes, but I do change and enhance a heck of a lot. I'm a huge believer in revision and improving a book through that process. My first drafts are chaotic explosions of words. Only in revision do the coherence and quality emerge.