All writers have a goal to reach in their writing. They want to write X amount of words in a day--which would not work for me. Maybe just getting the first five chapters down is enough of a goal. And, of course there's the finished first draft.
For me it's in page numbers. I get to page 50--woohoo! Page 100 another chance to celebrate! Page 200--and with something like 69,215 words under my belt, that's another bit WOOHAA!
I follow a plot planner that shows me where the crisis point comes, and the "lull" (which doesn't mean lull in action, but it's sort of a time for the characters and reader to catch their breath and either figure things out or learn something they didn't know before, and more character developement, and maybe the dark moment could come here too. And possibly a sex scene thrown in for good measure. But I digress.
And then of course you begin the climb to the climax--not in the sex scene (that's a totally different matter entirely). This for me is usually at or around page 200. That's a signal for me to heat things up on my characters, make things happen, go wrong for no apparent reason and let the shit hit the fan.
When I've reached page 200 that tells me I've got to ratchet up the action, get people into their places on the stage. MY NOTES FOLLOW
SPOILER ALERT-! since this is #6 of the Sabrina Strong series:
My notes might look scrambled, but this is what I was fleshing out today:
Now I'm into chapter 24. A couple things need to happen. First of all, or primarily I want to establish loss of a character. Sabrina knew Fritz, but not well. He was a nice guy (he had been injured on a vampire hunting jaunt, and in a coma for a few days). Why do nice people get killed? I don't know. It happens all the time. He/Fritz was going to college wanted to build/design cars. A very likeable person. But she has to feel Quist's loss--both as a human being, but as an empath as well, and it's tough on her.
But first this...
~A thought... what if Sabrina does see Bill (who is supposed to be dead-she saw him die)? Then what? If I keep him hidden the whole time up until the end, that's kind of stupid. I need a little friction. He doesn't want her to see him, but does, so what happens when she does?
It would create a moment of friction between the two:
Sabrina: shocked to see Bill alive and wonders why is he there at the towers?
Bill: horrified that she has seen him, and he can't hide his existence any more, because he's supposed to be dead.
When I worked on these scenes I let each character work through their shock, think about it, but not too long before something else happens. For Sabrina she gets the call about Fritz having just died and she's going down to the hospital to console Quist, who was his best friend. I end the chapter right there.
Bill has now reached a point where he's actually releived she's seen him. The questions she may have he is not able to answer even if she ever catches up to him, and so he tries to remain hidden, but he can't stay away from her because he is supposed to save her from some unknown horror predicted by the goddess Nemesis.
It's a good place for me to quit for the day. Let things tumble around in my head. I know what is to happen next because of other notes I've made, but this gives an idea of where I gauge when to begin working on the climb to climax.
And the ending to this one is going to be a real surprise and kicker. *smiling to myself* I'm so evil, and I know it.