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.

36 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

  • Sean Walters says:

    That’s rough going to say the least if you’re depending on film and tele media for some additional income. I hope it works out to everyone’s benefit, but especially yours. The Devils sounds intriguing, currently finishing Sharp Ends and I hope to begin reading A Little Hatred by mid September. Keep on inspiring and being inspired!

  • 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?

  • August says:

    I sincerely hope the film adaptation of Best Served Cold doesn’t become a casualty of this strike. Your work deserves to be exposed to a wider audience and it would be ill luck to have the timing of this be a reason it won’t (for now!). Finger’s crossed terms can be reached and work can start again.

  • michael mcgrath says:

    I get all your books and like them very much – still last series seemed very uneven- glad you are trying something new

  • 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.

  • nikonokiki says:

    Currently two thirds through Best Served Cold and like it less than the previous three books, but more than most fantasy books I’ve read.

    However, “this would translate much better to a movie script”, “this is like a fantasy Tarantino” has crossed my mind before I’ve learnt it’s being done, so very stoked for that to come into fruition. Hope it’ll be stylized as hell with plenty of artistic liberty (kinda like a Kubrick adaptation).

  • Brian says:

    “ the bottomless well of their executive bonus pot soon for the thirsty writers and actors who create the wealth in the first place”

    I don’t know, man. It seems more likely there’s some nefarious super-plot with various puppet masters controlling these two sides that we’re not aware of, and that choosing one side over another without that knowledge will lead to second guessing ourselves.

    I don’t know where I get these crazy ideas.

  • 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.

  • Geoff Gale says:

    Hi Joe,
    I love your work. As a stonemason who specialises on historic buildings I appreciate your occasional references to the old trades. I welcome the idea of another TV series that would rival the Game of Thrones. Always thought your books would work well in that format. One question: Did Bayaz kill Juvens?

  • A. B. Frank says:

    Hacking my way through your first law books but I’m glad to hear you’re working on another book! Give me a ring if you need any help…

  • Cameron says:

    I’m excited for The Devils. I just hope we get a good narrator. It doesn’t have to be Pacey, as I know you probably want to save him for First Law world books, but I couldn’t even finish the Shattered Sea trilogy because the narrator was so bad. I’d love to see Pacey do all the books you write, but if that’s not possible, then maybe someone else like Michael Paige, Simon Vance or Tim Gerard Reynolds.

  • Robert Barricklow says:

    Love your work.
    Still working through the las two trilogies.

    With all the “wokery”; I’m not missing Hollywood.
    I wonder if some writers are being woke-tied[like hog-tied]?
    May your work make it to the big screen;
    as close to your vision, as possible.

    James Clavell went through the good, the bad, and the ugly Hollywood.

  • 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.

  • Cameron Bankord says:

    Finishing up the the third book in the first law trilogy. It’s terrific! Love that there’s so many more books to read from you.

    I think you should write what you want to write. The devils sounds like it could be interesting. Whatever you do, I’ll be there to check it out when it’s released.

    Also, the strikes hurting the movie production is a real bummer. I would love to see that universe come to life. A competent director with your writing is a match made in heaven. I’m sure it will work out just fine

  • Agustin says:

    Leyendo el primer y magnifico libro de “La voz de las espadas”. Saludos desde Argentina Joe. Ojala y tuviese una pizca de tu sabiduria a la hora de escribir. Espero algun dia poder alcanzarte!

  • Caleb says:

    You should write the script screw our coddled American writers, they don’t write anything good anyway, screw the strike write your script plz

  • mike roberts says:

    I am so happy that you are writing another book and making a film. Best served is an unbelievably well constructed and complete story. At the top of my list of amazing books.

    Question, will Moorver’s character be voiced by Pacey… that character is such an awesome. Can you do a story about him growing up and stuff and junk.


  • Tom says:

    Can’t wait! Thanks for these updates. Just re read all your books and was even better second time round.

  • Braedyn says:

    I am excited for anything new you write! You are my favourite author and every book has gotten better and better! Keep it up joe!

  • Grant says:

    Thanks for the update. Really looking forward to the devils! Do you have any special editions in the pipeline for the first law books or a sing up for an arc of the devils??

  • Doug says:

    I think that your characters voices get better through out the years, I’ve listened to you last books three time and still find them funny and these are the only books I’d read more than once. I do wish Orso never died, but I understand the inevitability of the arc especially when he was thinking about how he would plan an overthrow as that must be what deposed kings do. Your humor is one of the things that keeps me coming back to read, ‘I’m glad your frequent tellings of my shitting myself have garnered world wide acclaim. Perhaps you can use your high art to describe my moonblood next and enthrall them for generations like tales of the bloody nine. Oh wait, your lucky day, here you go, have at it with my blessings.” I can hear in my head now.

  • Hill woman says:

    Her Royal Squattage is on the privy, but seeing how action and wit are much beloved by the moon, and seeing how her Royal Delicateness has been doing neither, we await your next issuance with boundless ardor.

  • Nikola Kambourov says:

    Dear Joe,

    The way I see it, you are due another progress report not later than the end of October because otherwise you will be left with nothing to write about in the end-of-the-year progress report which shall become due during the Christmas holidays.

    All the best,

  • Gillian Angus says:

    Please put Stephen Pacey somewhere in the fim

  • Eli says:

    Love your work. Dedicated 9 months to reading everything you’ve written. Absolute best fantasy ever- you’ve bested the best- Locke, GoT, Kingkiller Chronicles, all perfect in their own way, but lacking something I can’t articulate. Something you caught, especially in the age of madness. The ultimate question is, are you returning to the world of The First Law?

    Thank you for all of your writing. Its gotten me through the toughest of times.

  • Jonatan says:

    I do hope you will continue the story of the “First law” universe. The last trilogy was a true masterpiece and I had goosebumps when reading the vision at the end!

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