Gillian Redfearn Week

August 2nd, 2010

Last week saw a quick run through of the last of the point-of-view characters on the Union side.  Finree dan Brock is the daughter of Marshal Kroy, commander of the Union forces in the North.  She has also made a risky marriage to Hal dan Brock, the honest and loyal son of the disgraced Lord Brock, the great magnate who some may remember being stripped of all his lands and titles following his treason at the end of Last Argument of Kings.  Finree – cynical, cunning, and venomously ambitious – sees in war the opportunity partly to restore her husband’s fortunes, and greatly to advance her own.  On the battlefield, however, things do not always run according to plan…

Gillian Redfearn is not a character from the Heroes.  She is, in fact, far more powerful and dangerous, for she is my editor, and I got her detailed mark-up of the manuscript last week.  This is where she goes through and points out with the infamous red-pen (or indeed grey pencil, in this case) anything that still bothers her following our earlier more general discussions, both at the level of bad word choice or clumsy sentence construction (what, me?) and broader points of things missing or overdone, iffy or overused phrases, features of scenes or characters that are inconsistent or unconvincing.  This is straightforward in a sense, as I just look at each change and decide whether I want to do it or not or, more likely, to make a slightly different change from the one suggested in order to demonstrate my independence.  In another sense this is quite tricky since, when changing sentences or replacing words out of context, you can break up the flow of things you’ve carefully worked out before, use words that in fact appear in the next sentence without noticing, and generally introduce more mistakes than you fix.

In particular there’s one extra scene I’ve got to add, or at least greatly expand on, and that won’t be subjected to the kind of scrutiny and careful revision that the rest of the book has, so I’ll need to go over it every morning for a few days to (hopefully) make sure it works as well as possible.

I find writing to be a bit like pouring cement, in that when you draft a scene or first revise it, it’s fluid, you can slap it about into new shapes, cut and improve it with abandon.  By the time you’ve gone through this many read throughs and refinements, it seems to have set hard, and even quite minor alterations can be a time-consuming effort to get your head round.  Often, when my editor suggests a significant change, tells me I should consider doing a certain scene a different way, my first utterly irrational thought is – “but … that’s not what happened.”  Then I gradually and with extremely bad grace concede that she might be right.  Then I do it, realise she was right, and pretend it was my idea all along.

Hopefully this week we’ll also cook up between us some finished copy for the book that we both agree on, and I’ll make a start on the character run-throughs for the Northman half of the battle.  Completed maps, showing the positions of the various armies at the start of each day, should also be surfacing soon, because D-Day is August 11th, the middle of next week, when the manuscript is going off to be copy-edited and (yikes!) to have bound proofs printed in good time for the release end of  January.  Probably won’t have completed all my run-throughs and revisions by then, but I think it’ll be close enough for the critics to pass fair judgement.  As fair as ever, anyway…

Oooh, I almost forgot!  You can pre-order The Heroes here in the UKOr here in the US.  Yes, you can.  All the cool kids are doing it.

Posted in news, process by Joe Abercrombie on August 2nd, 2010.

9 comments so far

  • Mark C says:

    Fascinating insight again, Joe. I’m still a relatively new fan and blog follower and this kind of info only makes me want to get my hands on The Heroes hardback asap. I certainly won’t be waiting for the paperback!

    One of the best blogs from a writer I have seen. Right up there with Peter Watts!

    mark C

  • Susanne says:

    “Estimated date of dispatch: 21 January 2011”. Ouuuuch. It’s going to be a close-run thing, if Amazon is to be believed, between The Heroes and The Crippled God! A race of giants! So…you might wanna hurry up. You don’t wanna get beaten by Mr Erikson, do you. DO YOU, JOE.

  • Dennis says:

    Thing is that I will buy it as soon as it´s coming out in
    January cause I can´t wait to read. Then again I will have to buy when it gets out in MY language so that it fits in with the others in my bookshelf. So I have to buy your book twice!
    Damn you, Abercrombie!

  • Brett Littleproud says:

    Can’t wait to get started on it Joe, Excellent blog by the way!

  • Dan says:

    Thanks for the great update Joe. Just read fool job’s again last night, for the third time. It’s just so damn good. I love it when Wonderful tells Raubin the Fox guys will use his cock for a spoon if they catch him, and they all had to think about that for a minute. Cracks my ass up every time. Love your sense of humor.

  • Jason D'Whelan says:

    Editing… It is without a doubt the most excruciating process a writer has to endure. But I’ve yet to read a book of yours that hasn’t enthralled me, grabbed me by the balls and made me brush my lusting girlfriend off me so I can find out what happens next…

    I eagerly await The Heroes, or as I hear from your description… Lack thereof.

  • SwindonNick says:

    Great insight – thanks! We feel we have got to know you through your blog and as regular readers feel part of the book as it evolves, so……
    Why not consider having the scary Gillian as a guest blogger on here – that way we would get her perspective of you and the book and the process? Just thinking…..

  • Marc says:

    Black Dow is back!
    Battle maps will be included!
    I’ve suddenly got very excited.

    Top blog Joe.

  • […] think this is right, at least in some cases. For example, this item on Joe Abercrombie's website contains, amongst other things, these two paragraphs: […]

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