I just checked my current word count for my Russian novel sequel, after finishing Chapter 31, “Ivan Loses His Accent,” and was very pleased to discover it’s up to 277,000 now. I can easily keep to my new goal of 350,000 as the upper limit. I was just in late November of 1927, and it ends in December 1930. Plus, I have the whole story pretty much memorized in my head for so long, so it’s not like I’ll have any problems figuring out what comes next or how to get from Point A to Point B without rambling all over the place.
I think I have four chapters left in Part I, after deciding I really need to split what was planned as the penultimate chapter of Part I into several different chapters. Then there are nine chapters plus the Epilogue in Part II. I figure I might need to sit down and create a more detailed outline for the third book, since the notes I have now don’t necessarily go in order, and are more like stories I’m going to cover in the third book. (For example, Minsk character Inessa and her adopted sisters make their way to the United States and Inna and the aging Mrs. Brezneva make their way out of Kiyev and into Austria to escape Stalin in 1937; Misha, Kostya, Georgiya, Leonid, and Aleksandr Shepilov all run afoul of the increasingly nightmarish régime, and are punished in various ways; Darya and Oliivia are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time when they’re in France in 1940 and spend 1942-45 in the camps for protesting Naziism; Tatyana discovers in 1937 that Ivan isn’t her blood father and goes to live with Boris in Manhattan while she starts college; Anastasiya’s bastard son Dmitriy and Ivan and Lyuba’s fourth child Katya meet again on a train in 1946 and become more than friends; etc.)
I had no idea when I first started the first book at barely thirteen years old that I’d stay with these characters almost as long now as I’ve been with my Atlantic City characters, and that they’d be around for more than just one book. And I’m not scared or ashamed of the fact that these are long books. Why should I apologize for having what’s considered a “sky-high” word count by modern-day standards when they’re intended to be very long books and were plotted as such? Right now I’m gradually doing a final sweep-through of the first book, taking out bits and pieces here and there, perhaps putting it down to around 348,000 words, but I wouldn’t dream of chopping out entire chapters or secondary characters.
With all the cutting I did on the first several rounds of editing, polishing, and rewriting, I took out of a lot of the scenes/dialogues Kat, Alya, and Anya had originally been in, but I didn’t take out Alya and Anya entirely because they still serve a purpose. I’d only concretely planned to have them in one chapter of the sequel, but as it turned out, I found a way for them to emerge as secondary characters anyway, not minor characters, even though they’re no longer in the inner circle of the other characters. I figure I cut out around 20,000 words from the original sections of the first six chapters, but I must’ve put in a lot more words than I thought when I was writing all those new scenes to fit in with the reworked direction of the plot. Oh well, it’s meant as a long book anyway, and I’m not going to apologize for having such a large word count as though it’s obscene to have a book that climbs far higher than just 400 pages.