Progress Report February ’23

February 28th, 2023

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…

Posted in process, progress by Joe Abercrombie on February 28th, 2023.

36 comments so far

  • Sally says:

    Ahhhh congratulations on coming to the end of the first draft! Thank you for the update! I can’t wait to have this in my hands (I can wait, but I shall wait EAGERLY)

  • Jerre says:

    Thanks for the progress update, always appreciate it when writers keep their audience in the loop on what to expect and (roughly) when. Absolutely devoured your First Law stuff so I’m excited to see what comes next. Keep up the work but also take a little time here and there to relax. I think I can speak for, if not all, then hopefully most, fans when I say we’d rather have the book finished a little later than sooner if that means you come out the other end of the process with your sanity (more or less) in tact!
    Cheers from the Netherlands.

  • Vedran Mavrović says:

    Glad to see the new Progress report. I am really excited to read the new stuff, or to listen to it if the Great Steven Pacey will be the narrator.
    In any case, keep up the good work.

  • Ian says:

    As a screenwriter, greatly influenced by your writing (Joe); I’m looking forward to reading what brilliance is to come about. No rush, a great draft takes time and persistence.

  • Andy Hand says:

    I’ve read every book you’ve published and love them all! I can’t wait for the new book. Thank you for your hard work!

  • Logan’s Lost Finger says:

    Hurry up and get it finished you tosser. No excuses. I’m sick of waiting!!!

  • Eric Lessard says:

    Sounds wonderful, but I hope you don’t kill my favorite character again like in the last conclusion!

  • Serp says:

    FOUR ludicrously complex and extravagant action climaxes? That definitely sounds like s good thing to me! You spoil us, sir!

  • Anomamdaris says:

    Thank you for the update, and great to here you had a good start to the year. Good luck and patience with the rest of the work. ✨

  • Cody H. says:

    Thanks for the update Joe! Glad to hear about your progress, I hope it all comes together nice and easy for you, but do they ever? You have to be realistic about these things. Either way, can’t wait to read The Devils!

  • Lily Anne Crow says:

    Your work, like a fine wine, continues to improve with age. I have no doubt this latest endeavour will prove no different. It will be well worth the wait!

    Best of luck with the final part of the story. From my experience, those last few chapters are either the easiest, or the hardest.

  • Victor says:

    How does it feel to know that an absolutely obscene number of people adore your writing? That every time you do a progress report, we all wet our pants a little?

  • Cid says:

    lol last comment by Logan’s lost finger.

    Keep it up. I’ve read each of your books and quite enjoy your style and the inner monologue humor. I was really hoping to hear more about what happened to Ferro Maljinn after she released all that power with Bayaz, but guess I’ll do without.

  • Realistic says: could have wrote a chapter instead of this.

    Peace and love.

  • Adam C says:

    What timing! I’ve JUST finished The Trouble with Peace and had to check in to see if my favorite author had written words here. And what do you know!

    Joe, how does one become a lucky tastemaker in your world? I’m quite curious as to the way in which the underworld of fantasy literature churns.

    I loved TTwP, my friend. As always, you guided me deftly and briskly through an incendiary tale, only to pull the rug out three separate ways by the time I’d turned the final page. And now I sit here scratching my head, feeling the thematic epiphanies bubbling up to the surface. They’re not there yet, but they will be. A Little Hatred was exciting, hilarious, romantic and dangerous, and I loved it. Trouble, on the other hand, felt like one big life lesson.
    A brutal series of revelations. A cold paw to the jaw.

    It was when I finished Last Argument that I realized you were my favorite author. It took the whole trilogy, and a bit of thinking afterwards, but suddenly the grim, bitter, sardonic catharsis of what your world WAS finally dawned on me. And I’ve yet to look back.

    I felt like I had to tell everyone – but it was impossible to express any of it without having experienced the ride yourself. So instead I just recommend you to every reader I meet.

    Given the depth of the mindf$+ I experienced with Last Argument, I am salivating over the prospect of tearing into Wisdom of Crowds. And yet.. I’m afraid. I don’t want to be caught up, mate. And so I’ll let it hang for just a touch.. and at some point this Fall I’ll allow it to bridge the gap between now and the advent of The Devils.

    Have a wonderful year, Joe. Thank you so damn much for keeping our imaginations aflame.


  • Richard says:

    Thanks for the update Joe! Always good to hear the progress coming on and manage my expectations on when I can get my next fix of Abercrombie

  • Carlos Martorell. says:

    Para empezar,Gracias,Joe!Soy un fan de 68 años.He sido lector de Howard,Moorckok,y cuantos escritores de fantasía heroica he conocido.Desde Prattchet,no disfrutaba tanto como lo hago con tus obras.Enganchado terminal.Desgraciadamente,no tengo suficiente nivel de Ingles como para leer los originales,y según me dicen mis sobrinos,que si tienen ese nivel,las traducciones al español,GENERALMENTE,son buenas.( Me atreveré a apuntar una idea,en absoluto una crítica) Una persona de tu confianza,bilingue,podría fijar unos parámetros que unificaran criterios sobre,por ejemplo,nombres de los personajes,lugares o cosas.¿Demasiado exigente? ¿Hay que ser realista? Espero con ansia tus próximos libros.Ya he dado tres vueltas a tu obra,y cada vez la he disfrutado,a veces mas que la primera.Te doy de nuevo las gracias por tantas horas de disfrute.No nos tengas mucho tiempo en ascuas.Un fuerte abrazo.

  • Stu Faulkner says:

    It’s so great being able to hear how these fantastic works are gestated and eventually birthed. Thank you so much

  • Aicon says:

    Go off king! Slay! Apeakcrombie is cooking!

  • Daniel says:

    Sounds exciting, goodluck and looking forward to reading Devil! What do you look for in an editor? Are they fantasy fans, or a well seasoned reader, or another author who can see what you’re doing and add to it?

  • John Smith says:

    Being the proud owner of 2 small humans, I feel my next words are fitting: “Is it done yet? Is it done yet? Is it done yet?

  • Clark says:

    “You wouldn’t want the acorn to fall too far from the tree, after all”.
    No, no I would not. I really enjoy your writing as it is.
    Growth and improvement are great, but don’t stray too far.

  • Keith Hartwell says:

    I finished Red Country for the second time late last night, I’ve read all of them once and most of them twice and actually enjoyed them even more on the second reading. I’m already getting withdrawal symptoms so it’s fantastic to have a new book to look forward to… I’ll have to hold off reading First Law for the third time for a couple of years or so now! Thanks Joe, your efforts are truly appreciated.

  • Wombat of Hoskopp says:

    Great stuff, Joe. You’re always very up-front when it comes to writing techniques, but I was just wondering whether at some point when you’ve more time you might give us a glimpse behind the scenes of worldbuilding. Pretty please.

    On that note: Northern Hemisphere Polar projection with Atlantic at the bottom looks very Circle of the World-ish, which would make Thond “where they worship the sun” Australia… Am I close?

  • tom says:

    Excited to meet these Devils!

  • Nick says:

    It sounds like this one is poised to be a proper chunker! Is it still intended to launch a series? If so, will it be a “looser” one than ones like The First Law trilogy and The Age of Madness? It sounds as though, structurally speaking, The Devils is likely more similar to something like The Heroes or Red Country.

  • jennifer says:

    Whatever it is and whenever you finish it, I’m sure it will be bloody and funny and fucking great.

  • Pctek says:

    Topiary, an interesting analogy.

  • Sherie says:

    I don’t like books or films which have lots of violence in them. Despite this, I first discovered and then spent the whole of this winter, devouring every single one of your books. How on earth did you manage to get me through them when violence is not something I like? Magic, I say! You create fabulous characters and world building. I think the comparisons with other fantasy ‘greats’ on your book jackets are well-deserved.
    Thank you, I really love a good book and coming late upon a series so that there is plenty of wonder ahead of me has been heaven. Now? Now that I’ve read them all, I learn patience

  • Jerry M says:

    Just ordered new MR Carey novel from Amazon and thought “Wondering what Anercrombie’s current state re: book development might be.

    A year out for the next 2-day devouring. Not too bad. I mean compared to Rothfuss & GRRM. Just sayin’.

  • Brent says:

    Appreciate the update! Having read all your books I eagerly look forward to another fun, dark & gritty story. The updates are appreciated and knowing full well that plans often unravel it is nice to learn of progress being made!! Best wishes in the weeks ahead.

  • marco says:

    The updates are really very much appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to do them.

  • Eric says:

    Joe, so far we have enjoyed your offerings and eagerly await the next entrée. Thanks for some great stories! I look forward to more hours of intrigue and new characters to immerse myself in.

  • IvanovSD says:

    I cant wait, in my desperation I started the whole First Law world from the start……for the third time….Do work faster 🙂

  • Samuel says:

    I guess I need to switch careers and become a book reviewer so that I can read the damn thing!

  • T.Doran says:

    Come on Abercrombie, get you finger out and get your latest to the publisher.
    I’m getting on a bit and don’t have many years left, so I repeat, extract the digit.

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