Sitting at 53000 words or so, not quite halfway into chapter nine. I think–and the next week or two will confirm this or not–I have two more chapters after that. Could be three, but I think it’s two.
Nope, it’s definitely two.
The chapters are running about twenty-three pages each, probably a tad less when I factor in the ones where the last page is two lines long. Pages are averaging 275 words or so. That means I have the balance of chapter nine (3300-3500 words) and chapters ten and eleven yet to go (6300 words each give or take) for a total of about 16000 words. I should end up just under 70k total.
That feels all right. I know where my destination is for the end of the story, and the general path of how I’m getting there. Several plot points remain to be resolved in my mind, though, including the fate of a couple of characters. (bum-bum-buuuuuuum)
This is the winnowing stage of the story. I’m eliminating possibilities with every page I put up. No characters will suddenly fly to Iceland (with or without an airplane), or engage in a hedonistic Roman orgy, or join a movement to liberate Staten Island: not in this volume, anyway. If the opening of a story is like the flared horn of a trumpet, this is a funnel, forcing characters who have been separated back together, uncomfortably so, in order to produce the last scenes of conflict. In this case, that’s a trial under a version of ancient Irish Brehon law my faeries still employ.
But the winnowing doesn’t mean I’m still not being surprised by possibilities present since the beginning of the first story. The pressure of pushing together plot lines and characters can cause a productive spark. Characters who have been happily cruising along in the background can fill a role nicely, if you let them, even if the thought didn’t occur until now. Conversely, other things I thought I would work in have been placed on hold, to show up in the next story. I don’t yet see the light at then end of the tunnel, as it were, but I feel the breeze.
I am slated to present the draft to WUTA’s Big Book group in mid-March, for April review. I have eight weeks. That means (and this is why the numbers matter) I have to produce at least 2000 words a week (including on-the-fly rewriting and week-by-week edits from WUTA). I feel fairly confident I can do that–my pace has been around 2000-2500 a week so far.
Bits of the next story are wandering through my head. Some are ideas postponed from this one, others have been waiting for the final volume in this plot arc from earlier on. After number four (and I have gone back to splitting up the first two, even if it means number one is only 50k words or so) both I and the characters will need a little time to pass.
A web journalist, Jeff Brandt, profiled WUTA and several members, myself included, for patch.com recently. The results are here, here and here. I only hope Borders stays around long enough for us to deal with any influx of people we get as a result. The Brentwood Borders has been very good to us, much better than the Ladue B&N, the manager of whom seems to view anyone not buying a stack of self-help books for recovering Twilight addicts as a nuisance.