When I first started planning my novel, I realised with horror that it was, according to one well-respected definition, sexist. The Bechdel Test is an oft-referenced method for determining if a work of fiction (most commonly film) is gender equal. To qualify, the work should contain two female characters who talk to each other about something other than men.
My protagonist is female, and the other three main characters are male. I was going to fail the test! This was easily fixed, however, and one of my characters underwent emergency surgery to become female. I now have two characters of each sex in may cast. Of course, that doesn't mean the conversations I write between Chloe and Marianne are realistic reflections of how women talk to each other.
However, having now completed two chapters - around 6,000 words - I'm getting a better idea of not just those two, but all the characters. When I started, they were sketched out in an elevator pitch sort of way - usually by mixing traits of people who I know well with the public personas of well-known people. Writing about them in detail is helping me put flesh on the bones, and hopefully they will come across as fully formed when the book is finished.
Talking of which, it's taken me 35 days to get this far. That's an average of 171 words a day - though in reality, I've only written on about half of those days, so it's more like 350 words a day, when I do work on it. Hardly prolific, but I am restricting myself to 30 minutes of writing at a time. Anyway, I now have a rough idea of when I might finish the first draft: 18 April 2017, to be precise.
I am pretty sure I will need to rewrite quite extensively - I still haven't re-read any of it. God, I hope it isn't rubbish. But at least I know it won't be sexist.