I’m currently at 108K+ words.
I typed “The End” a couple of days after Brandon Sanderson tweeted a similar comment. His was to a 400K+ word book, and was anticipated by hundreds of thousands of fans. Mine was to a 106K+ word book, and was given a hearty congratulations by my ever-patient husband. It gives me some satisfaction to think that both of us are now under the relentless influence of The Editing Muse– an uncompassionate sawbones, a tiresome nitpicker, a dictator of hideous aspect.
I’m currently focused on repairing the potholes I knowingly left in the highway during construction (small ones like “***choose eye color,” gaping ones like “***fix this,” and everything in between). Book Six is a long way from the “read aloud to a captive audience” stage of editing, and solely focusing on its faults is an ego-punishing task. But there’s a tired, transitory happiness that comes during this stage when, after a few days’ work on a previously rotten section, you read it over again and feel satisfied.
From early December:
I’m starting to get that (now recognizable) conflicted happy/sad feeling that the story might be nearing completion. Too bad my plot summary was partially blown up. I keep falling asleep or waking up while having really bizarre endings playing through my mind, and then my waking thought becomes– “[character name] would NEVER do something like that… would [she or he]?”
I’m also concerned that the ending I keep working on in my head (and have a few tentative outline-ish pages drafted on) might require tens of thousands of words more to do it justice. I don’t have room for that many words– when I go back and edit a new book a few times, I’ve always ended up adding a net 15K-20K words. That’d push this book over the 120K word mark. I’m extra concerned because the last time (okay, two times) I was at this point, I had to end the book and begin a new one with the “ending” that was supposed to conclude the entire Marcel episode. There can’t be a Marcel Book 4, right? The Thomas books are calling, and I don’t have the genius required to write two separate lines of novels at the same time. I mean, I think I don’t. I’ve never tried.
I had what I thought was a pretty firm plot outline, and I liked it a lot– there were parts that made me smile, a couple of things that I thought were even a little clever, and some resolutions that felt like “at long last, all is right with the world.”
All that is out the window. A bunch of crazy stuff has happened. Some people I thought I could trust implicitly I’m not so sure about anymore, and others have become more interesting.
I had to stop everything for a couple of weeks and think, and then go back to my vague “Thomas Books” outline document and give them a much more detailed layout and some timeline sketches (at this moment I envision them as a trilogy). I’m back to working on Book 6, now.