I’ve just finished the full draft of my new crime novel, and can soon set off on the long-overdue sequel to my children’s horsey novel.
However, reaching “the end” is a long way from finished. I’ve written 8 novels (published) and have ~60 billion other completed manuscripts at the back of the cupboard, so these days even at the point where the novel is just an embryo idea, I know exactly how long the finished book will be.
This latest* was a sub-100k-word novel from the moment I saw a giant shipping container swinging from a crane. It has been a long time in the making over a turbulent couple of years. Nuances change in the course of writing a book. I don’t like to close off any routes to what might become a useful subplot or interesting twist, so the first draft gets everything wallpapered in.
The full draft was way too fat at 140k words, but at least I knew how it would end, so I went back with the editing pen and did a comprehensive slash and burn of all extraneous matter, and I took it down to exactly 99,999 words. How’s that for an accurate prediction?
Then it struck me; the sequel to the children’s novel could easily come in at 40,001 words. I have just unwritten the book that I’m about to write, and not one of those discarded words can be reused.
* Boxed In, featuring Annie Raymond, the Thompson sisters and two figures from Annie’s past that readers of the early books might remember; ex-boyfriend Mike and PC Jennifer Flanagan.