So, the good news is I've been on something of a roll for the past few days (like, I keep writing even after I'd meant to do something else, like sleep). Since I've been falling behind on my writing goals lately, this is a good thing and I've been going with it.
So, Alexandra Quick and the Stars Above is up to 148K words now. I'm on Chapter 24.
The bad news is it's going all over the place, the scenes I originally planned to write aren't the ones I am writing, and I feel like trying to maneuver characters and events into place to make everything fit together coherently and logically is this big awkward dance and I've lost my beat. It ranges from meta-issues like whether it makes sense for Event A to occur before Event B and how Event C can look less contrived, to micro-issues like who's standing or sitting where in a room during a conversation. I feel like I guess some writers must when they're trying to write a sex scene and remembering where that foot was supposed to be. (Okay, bad example -- there are no sex scenes in AQATSA. Really.) I'm trying not to go back and tear out and rewrite because I know it's better to keep going and finish the first draft but I hate thinking I'm writing crap I'll have to delete.
There is a lot of dialog this time. Some of it I think is kind of clever, but some of it is probably eyeroll-inducing. (It's full of suck! Delete!) Also, Alexandra is probably skirting the edge (if she hasn't already tripped right past it) between being a believable tween who's reacting to events with sometimes less than adult maturity, and being so annoying that everyone is rooting for her to get slapped, hard.
I think my main struggle with Alexandra right now is that on the one hand, her defining personality traits (and a lot of what people love about her, and what I love about her) include stubbornness, recklessness, and a little bit of I-can-get-away-with-anything. On the other hand, a character who keeps acting stubborn and reckless is not always endearing, and I've also made it clear that part of the story is Alexandra growing up, getting smarter, and not being such a bitch. She's fourteen/fifteen in this book, which is pretty much the Peak Stupid Years for teenagers, so some bitchiness is inevitable; I just hate to think she's going to become so annoying she'll turn people off.
Also, as of 24 chapters and 148K words, I'm still not sure how many chapters are left to go, but chronologically, I'm only halfway through Alexandra's school year. So keeping book four trim does not look like a realistic goal at this point.
The wordle thing is getting kind of repetitive, since they're not all that different (although of course some new names are popping up, or their proportional sizes are changing, as different characters figure more prominently in successive chapters). I wonder what per-chapter wordles would look like? I thought about teasing with chapter titles, but many of them will change, and some are probably too spoilery.
I also usually, at about this point, start doing Poser illustrations for some chapters, but I'm not feeling it right now. Gotta get back into the Poser mood, but when I look at some of my earlier illustrations, they are a bit cringe-inducing, and I just don't have the hours to work on improving my Poser and Photoshop skills. But I think this picture of Anna actually looks better in silhouette than the original image.