Posted in process

Progress Report August ’18

Things have been more than a bit disrupted over the last couple of months with no less than two moves and a couple of holidays. But today, after eight months out, we are finally moving back into our house. Totally unfinished, of course, so there’s going to be a month at least in which we’re sharing the place with the builders as they finish off, but hopefully getting back to some kind of normal by the end of September.

Work cannot stop, though, of course, and the last couple of months I’ve been ticking over, finishing my reread of all the published First Law books and making notes of anything relevant to the new series, receiving comments from my editor, coming up with an action plan and then going through the First Draft of A Little Hatred with a view to making a Second Draft.  

For me this round of revision is the heavy lifting which brings the start of the story into line with where it’s finished up, addressing the bigger editorial concerns, maybe adding a scene or two, but mostly tweaking the characters into line with my long term vision for them, laying the groundwork for later developments of plot and character which I might not have fully anticipated when I wrote the first draft, and getting the voices of the central cast and maybe some of the key secondary characters a bit more consistent and distinctive.  

I’m also always looking to cut down.  Sometimes a word, sometimes a phrase, sometimes a paragraph.  Readers can get panicky about that, with a thought process like, ‘I love the words, and now there’ll be less,’ but cutting is one of the most powerful tools a writer has.  You remove what is bad, after all, and leave what is good.  You prune what is unnecessary, repetitive, off-point and render sentences, paragraphs, scenes more pacey, meaningful and dynamic.

Still, in general, after a round of revision to get to the first draft where I’m usually cutting quite heavily (maybe 5% of total word count?)  In getting to a second draft I’m usually adding words back in on aggregate, with a few themes needing to be emphasised, features picked up on, and maybe a scene or two to add.  First draft was 170,700 words.  Second will be closer to 175,000, I would imagine, which funnily enough is pretty much exactly what I was aiming at.  There is a first time for everything, after all…

Generally when I revise I go through character by character, rather than in chapter order, in an attempt to get each point-of-view’s voice and feelings and progression firmly in my mind, as consistent as possible and as distinct as possible from everyone else.  I’ve nearly been through 6 of the 7 central points of view now, with one still to go.  He’ll be one of the most difficult, mind you.  Still, I expect to have this second draft done within a couple of weeks.  Then I need to decide whether to try and do the same thing to the second book (which in some ways needs more work), or push on to some of the more detailed revision of this first one in an effort to get it actually finished.  Need to have it done (or at least ready to be copy edited) by year-end to give plenty of time for the September publication date, but that should be plenty of time still, I hope.  Very much looking forward to getting another First Law novel out there.  Feels like a long time since the last one…

Read more | 47 comments | Posted in news, process, progress

2017 in Review

Hot damn if it isn’t New Year’s Eve once more. This means I must be 43 today. 11 and a half years since I was first published, but I still feel a little strange describing myself as a writer… 2017. Well, it’s been a gruelling year one way or another.  A year of inside-outs and […]

Read more | 51 comments | Posted in announcements, film and tv, games, news, process, progress

2015 in Review

New Year’s Eve, and you know what that means?  Happy birthday to me. Yes, indeed, I am 41 years old today and this is my 7th yearly review post. Time marches only one way, my friends… I’ve been hugely blog-lazy this year.  There are still many authors blogging very effectively, but it’s not quite the standard tool […]

Read more | 32 comments | Posted in announcements, film and tv, games, news, process, whisky deathmatch


Things have been exceedingly quiet around here over the last month because I’ve been touring in Australia (further details on how that went over here) and also working flat out to get Half a War edited and then copy-edited.  The downside of the quick publication schedule (three books in a year) is there’s always going to be a quick turnaround, […]

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2nd Draft Part 2

It’s taken me 3 weeks, which was a good deal faster than I’d hoped, to get a reasonable 2nd draft of Half a War together.  It usually does tend to be the case that the process is less horrifying than you expect once you start to tackle it.  Some chapters needed some pretty heavy pruning […]

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2nd Draft

There was a time I was posting here three times a week, but there’ve been no posts for over a month because I have had my head firmly in putting together the 2nd draft of Half a War, third book in my Shattered Sea trilogy. When I first started writing I’d revise every sentence, every […]

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Third Draft

I’ve had a few minor bits and pieces to deal with the last couple of weeks including a short story now squared away, which leaves me with no alternative but to tackle a third draft of Half the World, curse it.  Few weeks ago I was talking about work on the second draft, which focused […]

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He Killed the Younglings!

People keep asking me whether Half a King is a Young Adult book.  Well, yes it is.  Kind of.  But also an adult fantasy.  Kind of.  Crossover, you know.  Depends a little on who you ask… Categorisation is always a bit of a strange business.  Books are often put into a certain genre, or shelved […]

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Second Draft

In many ways, at least for me, it’s when I’ve got a complete first draft of a book that the most important work begins. I start with a reasonable idea of who my central characters are and what the plot’s going to be, but both the plot and the personalities inevitably flex and shift as […]

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Call them what you like: Bound Proofs, Galleys, Advance Reader Copies (ARCs), Advance Reader Editions (AREs), Advance Reader Special Editions (ARSEs), they are a staple of the publishing world.  Essentially these are not-quite-final versions of the book sent out well before publication, to reviewers that they may have time to review, to other authors that […]

Read more | 20 comments | Posted in process, Uncategorized