I've reached a stopping point in Book 4. I've gotten the characters through one disaster after another and then I checked the word count. That's sort of like counting your chips at the poker table -- never a good idea. But I did it anyway because I was trying to project the word count for the novel.
I was short by about 15,000 words. That's more than I can easily fudge with an added description here or a paragraph of clarification there. So I decided to add an new scene. I was thinking about it yesterday.
The issue isn't that they must now have some new unplanned encounter. The entire series is features all types of encounters. The issue is this new encounter must be relevant to the story or the series because nothing is included without a reason. Nothing. And there are no exceptions.
So I got to thinking about it. I was sure they needed to meet a person stuck out in the middle of the swamp in which they find themselves. Why is the person here? Because she has no choice. A curse! She is cursed to live out here alone until some condition is meet. Okay, that works -- classic fairy tale stuff.
Now as it happens I've been skipping ahead in my planning to Books 6 and 7. Both books have an issue with the plot: how do the characters sail from point A to point B with horses in tow? You see the original outline of these books has the characters sailing to various places to save time and to skip weeks of overland travel. But it never occurred to me that the horses they would use in the first books would need transporting too. Small problem there.
Of course, they could leave their horses in some town stable but they never go back there. Plus several of the horses are named and Ahlan's horse in particular is not about to be abandoned somewhere. I hadn't worked out how to resolved this but figured I could wait until I start writing Book 6 to worry about it.
But I was now adding a new scene and needed to make it relevant. What if as a result of satisfying the condition, which the character help with, obviously, they are rewarded with a way to teleport themselves and their horses from point A to point B? That was very neat and clean and since I'm introducing the teleportation bit in Book 4, no one will suspect that I've planted the magic here to resolve plot issues later.
Very nice. Problem solved. Now I just have to write the scene and hope it is at least 10,000 words. It might be. We'll see.
Keep writing, everyone.