I'm getting to a certain point in my current book now. It's a point I like to call The Scary Place.
It gets its name because this is where, by my (and my word-o-metre's) calculations, I should be nearly at the end. I'm only supposed to have around 10% (in this case, between 10,000 and 15,000 words) to go. And yet, and yet, and yet...
MY PLOT IS STILL GROWING.
It doesn't fit! Oh, no, what do I do? Holy Heck, this book is going to be way. Too. Long. Waaaah!
Yeah, basically it's like that. I don't know why this happens to me. Am I the only one? When I'm plotting out a book, deciding what should happen to who when, I'm always plagued with a vague feeling that not enough is going to happen and that it's all a bit thin. But by the time I hit The Scary Place the plot has started bulging out in all directions like an athlete on anabolic steroids. New scenes have somehow inserted themselves into the story. Characters have developed in unexpected ways. Parts of the story that I thought would only need one scene turn out to need three and a half. And even though this happens to me every single time, I'm never prepared for it.
If you could see me now, you would see that I have a harried, frazzled look, that my hair is sticking out in all directions from me running my hands through it, that my pupils are just a bit too dilated from rampant coffee-consumption. This is the look of an author on the edge.
I may have mentioned that my last manuscript, which I had originally forecast at a length of 65,000 words, ending up weighing in at a whopping 130,000? I do not want that to happen again, friends. Especially not since I ended up cutting nearly 30,000 of those words in revisions with my editor (it burned, I tell you! BURNED!). I want this book to be a reasonable length. I want to be between 90-95,000 words long and no more.
But I haven't even finished the bit where...well, that would be a spoiler but, looking at my four act diagram, I have nineteen 'Crisis Points' in the story, places where something major happens which flips the plot. And I've only written thirteen and a half of them. That means there are five major crises to write and I'm supposed to do that in 15,000 words? No way that's gonna happen.
So what do I do? Plough on - because it's all I can do - and admit that my visions of a first draft completion date of the end of this month are nothing more than a beautiful dream. Yes, I'm going to run over my word target AGAIN. Yes, I will probably have to cut thousands of words in revision AGAIN. Yes, I will miss my dream target (although not the actual target, which is early September) AGAIN.
The real question is, why do I persist in making up these word targets and pretending they're accurate even though I always exceed them? I suppose they're a safety blanket for a writer, giving us a sense that we know where we're going. Which is why letting go of that target is so scary. Like a kid venturing out without a security blanket for the first time, a writer without a word target feels cold, vulnerable and likely to burst into tears at any moment...
Frankly, I need a hug. Any takers?