2 added 2001 characters in body
source | link

Added to better answer the specific questions:

Perhaps This Answer I wrote a few months ago will help; it outlines how I (a discovery writer) approach a story, consistent with the Three Act Structure (3AS) (But I split the second act into two equal parts; 'Reactive' and 'Proactive').

Understanding the 3AS is the answer to: "Is there some sort of rational way to help me understand, and eventually decide, what are the next steps to take?"

YES! As you progress through each half-act (about 1/8 of the book), ensure you have accomplished what that story segment calls for.

As for "When do you decide that it's time to close your story (as a discovery writer)?", the 3AS tells you that too. Each half-act (eight of them) serves a purpose in the story, and you need to progress from one to the next. For example, the first half of Act I introduces the "normal world" for the protagonist, and ends with an "inciting incident" that will eventually drive her (physically or metaphorically or both) out of her normal world (whether she finds it terrible or great). The second half of Act I shows the rising consequences of the inciting incident, and leads to the hero somehow breaking from her normal world to address the issues. And so on; until the second half of Act III, where the hero figures out how to solve the issue, and confronts whatever "villain" she is fighting (it could be a person, or situation, or internal mental issue). As we began with her "normal world," the conclusion may be a return to that, or often is a description of "the new normal", and where she fits in the world now.

So Streamline what you have done; eliminate extraneous prose. Then Map out what you have done, into the 3AS. Each of (I, IIa, IIb, III) should be 1/4 of the book. (If they are not roughly equal lengths; you likely have tangents and details unnecessary to the plot). Where you are tells you what to write next.

Added to better answer the specific questions:

Perhaps This Answer I wrote a few months ago will help; it outlines how I (a discovery writer) approach a story, consistent with the Three Act Structure (3AS) (But I split the second act into two equal parts; 'Reactive' and 'Proactive').

Understanding the 3AS is the answer to: "Is there some sort of rational way to help me understand, and eventually decide, what are the next steps to take?"

YES! As you progress through each half-act (about 1/8 of the book), ensure you have accomplished what that story segment calls for.

As for "When do you decide that it's time to close your story (as a discovery writer)?", the 3AS tells you that too. Each half-act (eight of them) serves a purpose in the story, and you need to progress from one to the next. For example, the first half of Act I introduces the "normal world" for the protagonist, and ends with an "inciting incident" that will eventually drive her (physically or metaphorically or both) out of her normal world (whether she finds it terrible or great). The second half of Act I shows the rising consequences of the inciting incident, and leads to the hero somehow breaking from her normal world to address the issues. And so on; until the second half of Act III, where the hero figures out how to solve the issue, and confronts whatever "villain" she is fighting (it could be a person, or situation, or internal mental issue). As we began with her "normal world," the conclusion may be a return to that, or often is a description of "the new normal", and where she fits in the world now.

So Streamline what you have done; eliminate extraneous prose. Then Map out what you have done, into the 3AS. Each of (I, IIa, IIb, III) should be 1/4 of the book. (If they are not roughly equal lengths; you likely have tangents and details unnecessary to the plot). Where you are tells you what to write next.

1
source | link

I am a discovery writer; and one that completes novels.

The key here, I think, is to remember you are discovering the story. If you are in the middle of the second act, then you have discovered half of it.

Also, hopefully, you have some notion of how what you have written could plausibly resolve into the finding of her mother; I always keep some kind of ending in mind. It isn't set in stone, but if the story leads me on a path I see will prevent the ending I have in mind, I have to come up with a better ending, or reverse course and abandon that path.

But you have discovered HALF of it. That doesn't mean you have discovered it well, or efficiently. So now is a good time to review and edit all you have written. Make a backup, change the name to include the date. Then with the outline of the story so far in mind, go look for things to cut, things you wrote that didn't go anywhere, characters you wrote that you can combine into one, or get rid of make some other character provide the role. Make the story more efficient.

What you have left should serve the story, in some sense. Just because it felt natural to write something at the time, doesn't mean it should stay there. Try to figure out how what you wrote actually serves the story: Sets a plot point, conceals something, defines a character trait (non-repetitively), whatever. What is its purpose?

Rewrite. Cut. Streamline. Turn the wandering path into a straighter road. Cut or combine scenes.

While I agree that a story is as long as it needs to be, the key word there is needs. Which is the same advice in Einstein's Razor; "Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler."

If you think a lot will fall in the editing process -- Make it fall now. You know enough. Personally, I go through a full read-and-edit at every significant turning point, which is approximately every 1/8th of the book. If you are at 4/8ths, you are way overdue.