Ten thousand words of YA book is rather different from ten thousand words of adult book. I have to keep reminding myself I might be as much as a sixth of the way done already. And that I need to plan accordingly.
Used to be, I would decide that a certain thing needed to happen at (say) the 20K point in the book. With that staked down a little way in my future, I’d find stuff to fill the intervening space. But as you might imagine, that led to padding, scenes going on too long or existing when they didn’t need to simply because, in my mind, it wasn’t time yet for that important thing to happen.
This wasn’t good, of course, but it was a useful learning stage in my early novel-writing days. And to some extent, I’ve made the obvious change of just getting to the good stuff sooner, rather than postponing it to some semi-arbitrary future point. (That happened very distinctly at the end of Act Two in MNC, for example.) But more often, what I find myself doing is focusing on that in-between stuff. Okay, if for pacing reasons thus-and-such needs to happen at the one-third mark in the book, and I’m aiming for about 120K of book, then what kind of meat can I pack into that first 40K?
I still end up with some fluff. But increasingly I’m ending up with a more complicated story, because I have to invent subplots and complications to justify 40K of book before That Thing happens.
Only in this case, I’m not aiming for 120K. Or even a hundred. I want 60-75K, and that means I have to keep a close eye on how many threads I’m flinging out there in the early part of this story. Too many, and I’m going to end up with more book than I can fit into my allotted space. But too few, and it will feel flimsy. And the last thing I want is to write a flimsy book just because I’m aiming at a younger audience.
So far it feels flimsy. But I know I want to backtrack and put in more Brian stuff, and more family stuff, so they’ll have a real presence in the story. And I think that will help a lot.
But man, it feels like I’m having to learn how to do this stuff all over again.