I am very nearly done with the second novel in the series I am writing. All signs point to it being quite a bit shorter than the first, to the tune of 10-15,000 words. My betas assure me that a novel should be as long as it needs to be and that it's going to be fine. My OCD disagrees.
I want it even.
I don't think that means the exact same number of words, because that would be almost impossible to do, and to make a novel fit into some predetermined framework. That said, it's kinda hard to not have "Devil's Dilemma is 113,000 words and 32 chapters" constantly playing in my head as I work on Devil's Despair.
I think it's going to finish at around 100,000 words, which is long for a novel, and I think it may have 34ish chapters, but I'm not sure yet. We'll see. I'm on Chapter 30 now, and at the moment, they're averaging around 3,700 words per chapter, which is kinda long for me. If I keep up this rate, the book I was concerned would be too short, might be longer than the first!
It is concerning to me that every time I do something in Despair, I compare it to Dilemma. Is this as good? Are the characters as strong? Does this fit with what this character was like in the last? There are more of x scenes in this book than the last--is that okay or should I cut them?
Ultimately, all of this is because I want this book to be as good as, if not better than, the last. I want people to read the first and the continue reading this one. I don't want people who loved the first to feel cheated by the second, because it is a totally different feel to it. Where the first was dark and tragic, this one is about hope and fighting through. There are more characters that I'm focusing on, does that make it seem choppy? Or is it nice to have multiple POVs. I personally think that it keeps the story moving quickly and keeps it from dragging, but my readers might disagree.
With the second so close to being done, I can't help but think toward the third. The characters on which I will focus more than others in the third are two characters that I love, and whose stories I have been trying to tell for years. I hadn't ever found the right vehicle to tell it until now. I've had two books to develop one of those characters, and one book to develop the other. But still, I worry about it. How will they compare to the others? Will readers like them more or less?
I know I need to stop worrying and stop thinking about what other people will like. I write because if I didn't, my head would explode from an excess of ideas. That isn't good for anyone, least of all me. I've been writing for sixteen years and only recently started worrying about the people reading it. I think that's because until now, publication was just a dream, and now, it's very likely going to be reality, and that's both scary and exciting.
There's only one way to find out if what I've written in this second book is good or bad. Finish it, and send it to the betas. They won't hesitate to tell me if it's crap.