Progress Report August ’23

August 31st, 2023

Time ticks away… The current WGA strike is now well over a hundred days long – longer than the last one – which has of course brought all writing work on any US-based film and tv to a screeching halt. The writers have now been joined on strike by the actors, which really has killed most development progress even on existing scripts, and naturally this includes the film adaptation of Best Served Cold as well as a few other bits and pieces I’ve got going on. Hopefully enthusiasm is undiminished and things will pick straight back up as and when the strikes are over, but people have other commitments that start to back up and push schedules down and inevitably there’ll be casualties. Fingers crossed the AMPTP dip into the bottomless well of their executive bonus pot soon for the thirsty writers and actors who create the wealth in the first place (and I’m not talking about me – the books pay my bills – so much as young guys trying to get a career going).

ANYWAY, I am fortunate to have a day job on the book side. It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good, and zero progress on other projects means solid progress on The Devils. I’ve now got what I feel is a pretty decent second draft – the right scenes in the right places, the major tweaks, adjustments and improvements done, some steady cutting and fettling. I no longer feel this book will be a career sinking disaster (hey, others may very well disagree when it comes out, but at least I’m getting to like it), which is something I think about pretty much every book as I’m writing it. It’s gone back to editors for a quick read and response, just to see whether they’ve got any concerns with the direction it’s taking for me to bear in mind as work continues.

Then we’re into the more subtle rounds of revision, first of all taking each point of view character in turn, trying to set up and payoff arcs, and also to get as much individual voice into each of them as possible. For that I’ll take things out of order, and look at the chapters from each point of view together, trying to get consistency and distinctiveness into each one. As usual, some of the less frequently used and more intense points of view work pretty well already, but the more ordinary ones that change the most and therefore carry a lot of the weight of the story still need some work. After that round’s done, it’ll be time to look at setting, and maybe to get the detailed line edit out of the way. Still hoping to have a close-to-finished draft by year’s end.

With any luck, the next couple of months shall see a resolution to the strikes. Time will tell…

Posted in news, process, progress by Joe Abercrombie on August 31st, 2023.

14 comments so far

  • Aillas Troice says:

    Glad you’re making progress on The Devils. Hope you’ll get it out of your system soon, and come back to the First Law world. I realise you must be sick and tired of it but the last book was a masterpiece and I want more of that please. If you need to write a children’s book or a gardening manual before you’re mentally prepared to give us more of First Law, I’ll wait for as long as it takes. And I’ll buy The Devils regardless of what the reviews might say.

  • An ambivalent fan says:

    >it’ll be time to look at setting
    What does this mean? Like typesetting? Or did you write a book set in an undefined void?

  • Josh says:

    I’m sure if The Devils sinks your career it’ll only be for a short time. After all, you’ll always be able to find it’s body floating by the docks. The resuscitation bit… now that would be an interesting read.

    Honestly though, I can’t wait for this book! I find the more you bemoan the process and dread the results, the more I enjoy the product. Not because of the bemoaning and dreading mind you. It’s just that I find you’re harder on yourself the better your writing becomes.

    You really do suffer for our enjoyment. And I for one am grateful.

  • David says:

    Glad to hear you say the bit about “some of the less frequently used and more intense points of view work pretty well already.” I’ve worried that it was just me that has favorite characters to write, ones that nearly write themselves, while other more plot-bearing points of view require extensive work.

    My latest, V&V, required 40k words rewritten as an entire character was rebuilt. He lost his flippant sociopathy and gained suicidal tendencies, which apparently fit him really well. Good thing he’s inept.

  • Serp says:

    The chills I get just reading about new POVs!!

  • Colin Doig says:

    Just remember what Kylie said. “Better the Devil you know”.

  • Andrew says:

    Hope to hear that Steven Pacey will narrate the audiobook…

  • Daniel B says:

    Can’t wait for your next piece of work! I Just finished all 9 books in the first law world consecutively.

  • Saskia Kroon says:

    May the strike last a long time, so that you can quickly finish The Devils! Sorry, very selfish, I know

  • Marc says:

    Very excited for The Devils! As much as I love the characters in the world of The First Law, I’m really excited to see what you do in a fresh new setting. Best of luck with it!

  • Wombat of Hoskopp says:

    I feel like (you felt like) you’d done with the First Law, which, brilliant though it was, had some fairly clear inspirations. So I’m looking forwards to seeing where The Devils comes from.

    And two months for a second draft! George: are you listening?

  • Timur says:

    Honestly, at this point even if you penned a gardening manual, I would still buy it and relish it.

    Take as much time as you need, maestro.

  • Chad says:

    Thank you for the update, Joe. I’m looking forward to the next one. I think something outside the First Law world could be pretty good. I’m hoping for some male badass to live through vicariously.

  • Devanthar says:

    To be honest, I don’t think your books profit from this slower, more methodical approach you’re taking now. You seem to have written many of the older ones in about a year, and they are not any worse than the new ones.

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