As none of you know, I have been writing a book of late. It has been an exciting endeavour to undertake. I took the Agatha Christie way and began writing it backwards. As in, I decided on the end and then created sub-plots to keep the reader interested. It was interesting how the characters in the book themselves started speaking to me. It became difficult for me to guess who really wanted to kill the person the most which was a beautiful thing to have.
Trust me, it is a good thing, at least while writing the first draft, to lose control a bit. Let the characters to what they want to do. One thing that most writers suggest and is a very effective tool is the technique of introducing a new character when the setting is getting a but dull. In a well-written plot, everything happens for a reason. If you create too many useless things (which Rushdie seems to get away with), you come across as somebody who cheats the reader.
Making sense of everything that a character is doing is absolutely important. It can be a tic, a gesture that means something or sometimes an important clue to understanding the character. The parts that are just there need to be pruned in the editing stage.
At the same time, you have to give them a bit of wiggle room. There are times when you have the plot in mind but need to write a section that doesn’t necessarily advance the plot. Even in mystery novels, people need the comic relief or breathers. In such cases, the craft becomes all the more important. I will continue this rant as I work on the book. Do let me know if you want me talk about anything specific.