Ahahahahah yyyyyyyyeah, so, about that 21-chapter/175K thing . . .
On Tuesday evening Alyc and I sat down to try and fill in our roadmap for the later part of the book. We started at the end, figuring out how we are going to stage our Thrilling Conclusion; then we worked backward from there to figure out what precipitating events that would require. I then looked at our existing outline (which we keep in a handy-dandy spreadsheet), whacked off Chapter 21 for denouement, Chapter 20 for climax, and Chapter 19 for setup, and counted how many scenes we needed to supply before that, in between the things we already knew. Assuming four scenes per chapter (which has been our average, though admittedly that number may rise as the plot moves faster), we needed another twelve or so to fill out our twenty-one chapters.
Our off-the-cuff list of things we needed to have happen filled eight of those twelve, and that’s without giving one of our major characters anything to do or providing any events to make a certain relationship arc grow the way we want it to.
In short: urk.
So, um, yeah, we’ve just gone ahead and bumped that chapter estimate back up to 24 and the wordcount estimate to 200K. That’s actually more book than we can fill right now, but it would mean the novel breaks into four parts of six chapters each (and we even have reasons why six is a numerologically significant number to use), and it gives us room to work in more plot complexity and character depth. We don’t have a full outlne of the remaining book yet — chunks of it say things like “riot goes here” — but since we almost invariably find that we need to add bridging elements between the things we’ve got planned, I don’t think we’ll have trouble filling in the gaps.
It’s an odd way for me to work. I don’t normally outline to any significant degree, much less put together a color-coded spreadsheet. But since we have to consult with each other on where the story is going and balance things like the interleaving of different viewpoints, it’s proved necessary. And since we went into this with a much clearer idea of our story than I often have when I start drafting a book, in some ways you could say we’re just further along the path I normally walk: I know some key events I want to hit, and then work on figuring out how to navigate from one to the next.
Anyway, we didn’t really write two whole chapters this week — just finished two. I wrote the first thousand words or so of Chapter 12 last Friday night, in a fit of inspiration, and Alyc did the same thing with the first scene and (to a lesser extent) the second scene of Chapter 13, which backtracks slightly in time to show what’s happening concurrently with the events of 12. But we’ve hit that point I get to with every book, where the end feels simultaneously SO FAR AWAY and also OMG SO CLOSE. Right now that SO FAR AWAY impulse is the more accurate one; I’ve written whole novels that are shorter than what we estimate lies between us and our conclusion. But when I can see so much of the road ahead, it makes it seem like it’s rushing toward me really fast.
Word count: ~105,000
Authorial sadism: To some extent it’s the same thing as last post, because a goodly chunk of this chapter is the fallout from the things we did there. But a certain character is never going to meet with formal punishment for the things they’ve done wrong, so they’re just going to have to atone via a whacking great burden of guilt.
Authorial amusement: More of this to be had now, thank ghu. I suspect Alyc’s answer is the Plot-Relevant Hookup, but I’m going to go with all the marginal comments they left on a later scene saying things like “liar liar pants on fire” or linking to Valerie from The Princess Bride coming out to scream at Miracle Max.
BLR quotient: There’s still a hell of a lot of blood staining things, courtesy of the previous chapter. But gradually the balance shifts toward love, as certain people are there for each other when they’re most needed, and someone grows a conscience.