Sekrit Projekt R&R, Chapter 18

As I mentioned last week, we’ve slowed down a bit — partly for life reasons, partly because this turned out to be the World’s Longest Chapter despite us relocating one of its major scenes to the next one in line. But with this chapter we’re officially three-quarters of the way through the book, and although rationally I know that what remains is, y’know, a quarter of the book, it really does feel like we’re about a sneeze away from being done.

I did have to sacrifice a bit of structural prettiness recently. We’d originally aimed to have the book divide neatly into quarters, with certain beats being hit at the conclusion of each part, and the end of part three would have mirrored the end of part one in a kind of nifty way. But the actual rhythm of the story needs to take priority over structural prettiness, and so that moment’s been pushed back one chapter, unbalancing the quarters. I spent a couple of minutes side-eyeing the spreadsheet where we track our chapters, wondering if I could talk myself into believing it makes sense to turn Chapter 13 into some kind of “interlude” thing to rebalance the numbering; then we’d resolve a certain plotline at the end of what would become Chapter 15 (it’s currently 16) and put everything back on track to have things break into three- and six-chapter chunks. Except that if we did that we’d have to come up with an additional chapter to fill out the final quarter, so uhhh, no, that doesn’t make sense, and I need to just let go of the tidy structure I had in mind.

Apparently this is what happens to me when I actually outline a book: my OCD tendency starts to rear its head. 😛

Speaking of letting go of things . . . yeah, so, um. That 200K target? That’s not so much a thing anymore. As I put it to Alyc, what used to feel like the authorial equivalent of “I’m going to aim to eat a healthy diet” has recently turned into counting calories, in a way neither of us was happy with. I’ve found myself skimping on description or characters’ reactions to things because I’m trying to keep the chapters within a certain range, and that’s not good for the book. So even though there is some practical merit in staying below 200K — think of it like pricing something at $9.99, because it sounds like much less than $10 — there’s much more merit in giving our scenes the room they need to breathe, so the story winds up feeling rich instead of stripped to the bone.

I don’t think we’ll wind up ballooning absurdly past that goal. But then again, I also originally thought this book was going to be a hundred and fifty thousand words long, so what do I know?

Anyway. This chapter contains a scene that is, in a sense, where the whole idea for the book began, so it was very satisfying to get that down on the page. Caper as both apology and flirtation! It’s how these characters roll.

Word count: ~148,000
Authorial sadism: So there’s this divinatory card deck that plays a role in the story, and instead of engineering layouts to suit our needs, we’ve actually been laying out the cards and writing what we get. This time the deck got SUPER HELPFUL and answered R—‘s question so clearly it would have blown one part of our plot completely out of the water. Our solution to this problem was . . . interesting. And a little painful. >_>
Authorial amusement: The aforementioned caper/apology/flirtation. Not just because flirtation amuses us, but because on my list of narrative kinks is the moment where someone who expects to be hurt instead receives a touch of kindness.
BLR quotient: Another complicated chapter. Despite the flirtation, I think rhetoric wins out in the end; there’s a lot of investigation here, and pinpointing the problem if not yet the solution.

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