Just finished the first act. It's almost 50,000 words long. I read an article by Kim Wilkins that suggests the breakdown of a novel is 20-30 per cent for the first act, 50 per cent for the second act, then whatever's left over for the finale. She says it's not an exact science, but it could mean that my first draft is over 150,000 words long. Which would make it harder to sell.
Having said that, I'm determined to let this story unfold in a natural way. Given I've got the grant, I have the luxury of exploring various storylines even if I end up cutting them later on. The last novel I wrote, I allocated 5k per chapter, but each chapter was only vaguely defined in terms of scenes. So I ended up with many chapters where I was struggling to find the 5k. So I definitely don't want to do that with Skin Deep.
The other thing I'm starting to realise is that it's going to be too confusing to incorporate elements of the protagonist's service in Africa as well as his service in Afghanistan. I'm not making any hard decisions yet, but I'm getting a strong feeling that I'll end up dropping the Africa angle.
I think I might spend my writing day this week giving the word count a push. I'm on track, but if I end up writing a 150,000+ first draft, it's going to mean it will take longer to write and longer to edit. And if I decide to cut it back to 80-90k, that's going to take a lot of structural work.