I’d say that I am about one fourth of the way through the sixth novel – as yet untitled – in my Rebecca Series. How do I know?
Two ways. One, of course, is that the word count on my laptop shows about 25,000 words. The other five Rebecca novels have ranged from 90,000 to 115,000.
The second way is the nature of the decisions I keep making, almost on a daily basis. For example, at this point in the story there is no individual identified as Rebecca’s (and her family’s and her colleagues’) chief adversary. For my adult stories to work well, there needs to be a person who fills the role of embodied and embedded Evil. A person who seems driven by Evil in ways that are obvious to the reader.
I’m still waiting for that character to emerge, although I’ve reached a tentative decision as to his identity. (Yes, in this novel, it’s probably a “he,” though that has not always been the case.) Certainly by mid-novel, we will know exactly who the chief adversary has turned out to be.
For another example regarding how I know that I’m about one fourth of the way through, I find that the nature of the priorities held by the “bad guys” is still evolving. I see that they, whoever “they” may turn out to be, are targeting a particular array of individuals and their families, including Rebecca and hers. My stories generally hold back revealing the full nature of the antagonists’ priorities until later.
For a third example, I see that it is not yet clear who is actually in charge of the “good guys.” The fact that my adult novels comprise The Rebecca Series does not necessarily mean that Rebecca is in charge of everything her family and colleagues attempt to do. She is always the key figure, but that is not the same as being the lead decision maker in all situations.
The wording of those examples may be confusing to some of you. When I write that I’m still not sure who the main adversary is, or what actual priorities the antagonists are going to hold, or who will become the lead decision maker in Rebecca’s group, it must sound to you as though I, the author, do not regard myself as being in charge of my own story!
The reason I’ve never experienced what some call “writer’s block” is that it has never seemed to me that I was making the decisions about the particulars. Yes, I have always made the decisions about the major issues and the general direction of my stories, but it has always been clear to me that the characters decide the details: what, exactly, happens next? what, exactly, will be said next? what, exactly, will determine the outcome? what, exactly, will be the concluding segue into the next novel?