When you reach a word count of 40k, you probably should think about how much more story you have left. Are you halfway? Established writers can get away with larger word courts, but most of us shouldn’t surpass 100k.
A safe word count is about 80k for most types of novels, so evaluate at the 40k mark. You don’t need an official outline, but you do need to know most of your major plot points, by the time you hit the halfway mark.
Plotting out your novel, in three acts, works well for an 80k novel (20k for Act 1, 40k for Act 2, and 20K for Act 3). You need to think in terms of darkness before the dawn, for the shift between Act 2 and 3. I’m at a spot where I should think about making a troubling moment—a chance for loss. Writers don’t need to play by such rules, but they should consider a well established formula, such as,
I’m worried that I don’t have enough story left. Two Three climatic moments are left. I can rough it out and say I’ve got one climatic moment per ten thousand words. A short story is essentially one climatic moment per 5000 to 7500 words If i can come up with one more climatic moment, I reach the short story ratio. I set up a ‘darkness before the dawn,’ but it is a slow dawning. Adding a hint of a climatic moment at that point may help. I just have to figure out how to do it.