You know the old saw about how teachers come into your life when you need them? Well, I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at exactly the moment in my writing life when I needed it the most. It gave me an insight into what I should do with my current WIP.
I am working on a story about a complex and mysterious character. Interestingly, her name is Libby. [I started writing notes and scratching out the idea for the story more than a year ago, before I'd even heard of Larsson's book, and I'm not going to change her name.] Libby Pohlman is nowhere near as dramatic as Lisbeth Salander, but she is complex and she comes to the story with a lot of baggage. Even I don't know yet if she's incurably insane or a genius whose purity of heart is truly saintly. I'm leaning towards concluding she is both, but I haven't finished writing her Journal yet.
I thought that the story was going to involve primarily Libby's Journals, which were to be discovered by the woman who buys Libby's house after she dies. I was going to use the journal as the heart of the story allowing Libby to reveal herself to the artist who buys her home in her own words. The encounter with Libby's spirit would, then, transform the way the buyer (whose name I haven't learned yet) creates her own art.
I think the buyer's life will be transformed by living in Libby's house and connecting with the spirit of Libby's art. I've changed my mind about how she will learn Libby's story. I'm going to finish writing the Journal of Libby Pohlman for my own information. As the author, I will know there's a journal, and I will know the contents. I think I will not allow the person who buys Libby's house to find the Journal, however. She will have go in search of the mystery of the artistic genius that was Libby Pohlman and figure it out for herself.
At least that's the current plan until the characters take over and let me know how the story actually needs to be told.
In the meantime I love the idea of writing the backstory first, as preparation for writing the actual novel.