February 2023 Archive

Progress Report February ’23

Finally, I actually produce a progress report when I’m supposed to. We’ll have to see whether that continues…

I had a discussion with my UK and US editors about the state of The Devils thus far – three quarters of it, that is, and I think we’re all feeling broadly positive, though there’s a lot of work still to do. Of course the first thing is to thrash out some version of the final quarter, and actually get to the end of a draft, before going back and cutting and coaxing the mush into a coherent story. To that end, I’m pleased to say I’ve been writing quite a lot since the new year (which some might consider a minimum standard for a writer), and I’m now about 45,000 words into that final part, wrestling manfully with a ludicrously complex and extravagant final action climax to put in the shade the ludicrously complex and extravagant action climaxes in the other three parts. It’s that kind of book.  Good thing? Bad thing? I guess, sooner or later, you can be the judge, but I’m pleased that it’s feeling distinctly different in tone and structure to my First Law stuff, albeit within the same character-based, gritty and violent fantastic wheelhouse. You wouldn’t want the acorn to fall too far from the tree, after all.

I’m hoping to get to the end before March is out, though the end when it comes to writing a book is always a tricking mirage, receding into the shimmering heat haze even as one tries to grasp it. The very next thing will be to spend a couple of weeks (possibly more, depending on the state of it) rewriting, adding, subtracting, improving, and generally hacking that final part into shape so I can send it off to my editors and we can sit down to discuss the entire thing. Hopefully at that point it will be clear (or more clear) what the book’s about, what the arcs of the central characters need to be, and I can set about the key task of imposing some order on the slightly chaotic first draft, refining the voices of the characters to suit their journeys, pruning the whole like a piece of topiary to produce a marvellously coherent and propulsive second draft exploding with vivid action, personality and excitement. Or something. That’s really when the book starts, for me, to get good, or at least when I start to feel good about it, anyway.

The rough aim is to get the first draft done around April, so I can hopefully turn the second draft in around August/September, so I then have a few months to tackle the detailed edit, and my own rounds of further revision focussing on character, setting and language, with the ultimate goal of having finished text around the end of the year that can then be sent out as ultra-exclusive advance copies to the lucky tastemakers of the fantasy fiction world. Publication for the general reader, you say? Oh how gauche, we don’t discuss such matters in public! Not yet anyway…

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