Progress Report February ’24

March 1st, 2024

A day late and a dollar short on this one, for which I blame February and its inadequate number of days. A disappointing month, even in a leap year.

But the work continues . . . The Devils is basically finished, line edit done, and its copy edit should be coming back shortly – generally that’s a more mechanical exercise carried out by a specialist copy editor, focusing on the details like getting the right punctuation, consistency of names and times and geography, though a good copy editor will pick up on all kinds of stuff you likely never thought about with timeline and clarity of writing. Still, we’re talking sentence level changes, in general, rather than significant rewriting. Once that’s done I expect Advance Reader Copies will start wending their way to various authors, critics and tastemakers of the genre, and we’ll see if I’m still capable of outraging the public. Fingers crossed on that one.

So the last couple of months have mostly been spent thinking about, planning, and doing some exploratory writing on the sequel. I’ve written a horribly sloppy and unsatisfactory version of the first part of 3, maybe 50-60,000 (bad) words or so. There are some characters carried over from the first book but also some new voices to work out, and a new plot and setting to tackle. My approach with these books has been to get a rough idea of where I’m going, dash off a first part to see what works and what doesn’t, then rethink and rewrite as I come up with a more accurate plan for the whole book. This is usually the time at which I most hate the book, myself and the world, and this book is proving to be no exception. But now comes a period of going over, sharpening up, slimming down what I’ve written and adding new stuff, getting a better idea of who the characters are, where they’ve come from, where they’re going. Generally you find some things work nicely off the bat and give a good framework for what’s to come. Other things are a bit crap and need rethinking. Hopefully you come out of that process with a much tighter first part that sets up a more formed idea of the rest of the book, not to mention a better feeling about the whole project and a sense of confidence going forward (let’s hope).

A lot of people, understandably, asking after the Best Served Cold film. All I can say on that is there’s nothing I can say until there’s something I can say. As soon as there is something I can say I’ll say it, believe me. Having been involved in quite a few film and tv projects over the last decade or so I can tell you it’s always a baffling, surprising and frustrating business. Things lurch forward, then halt, then take steps back, then forward again, like an indecisive drunk on a bender. Projects get announced in a blaze of excitement, then dropped in awkward silence, then suddenly resurrected in a new form. So . . . we’ll see. Don’t hold your breath, would be my advice . . .

Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on March 1st, 2024.

24 comments so far

  • Rick says:

    With your new comments I am now holding out hope that Best Served Cold will be reworked as a miniseries based on those last comments! Also, is there a tentative title for the sequel? Are the first book and the trilogy itself both titled The Devils?

  • Darren says:

    Thanks for the update Joe. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve read the whole first law books, as well as the shattered sea, but now I’m getting hyped for your new work.
    One question, is the new world these books re set in a magical one? As in are we talking wizards and dragons? Or is it a sorter fantasy with a very human threat?

    Thanks and keep up the amazing work

  • Carl says:

    I’m curious if anyone had ever attempted to crowdsource via fan base and investors in a film project. I would love the opportunity to help push that forward into reality rather than have some group shut it down. Time to setup a go fund me Joe! I’ll be waiting in line to support my favorite author.

  • Mimi Cruz says:

    Thank you for the update, I enjoy reading your books (multiple times even) and have recently introduced my hubs to your novels. My talking about Logan Nine Fingers peaked his curiosity. (Yay) He tends to like boring stuff like Isaac Asimov (IMO -yawn) but he’s enjoyed many of my crime novels, so a man can change. Haha
    Looking forward to your new book.

  • David says:

    February truly has an inadequate number of days, even on its best year.
    Glad to know that contempt for draft/self/world still persists, 50 books in. I was worried I’d one day exclusively enjoy the drafting process.

  • Petronius says:

    Oh, mighty Master of words & Pulchritudinous Poet, when thee will allow us mere mortals to bask in the blinding light of your prowess in describing the Whisky Deathmatch?

    (I’m clearly blessed with the creative Bonus of a dram of Belvenie, thanks to your review, sir).

  • Kerri says:

    A year or two ago, I smashed through all of your books, with the exception of Sharp Ends. I thought I’d save that last morsel for a rainy day.

    I’m so glad I did. I’m reading it now and reminded by how fucking good your books are.
    …So much so, I was motivated to do some online snooping in hope of news of my next fix. I am deLIGHTed to hear another book is on the way.
    Keep the faith. You turn it out. Every time.

  • Aaron says:

    I love your work! When can we expect Devils release date? Also cover art for America and UK? Will they also be different?


    I’m an avid reader of 70 years. Yesterday I started and finished reading my first book by you. I honestly do not understand how I’ve missed you as an author. I just read Half a King. After reading this and starting the second book of the series, I ordered every one of your books for my Kindle. To say I’m enjoying your work is an understatement. My question to you is it possible to get an Advanced Reader Copy of The Devils? It never hurts to ask. Thanks for the literary ride from the first book read.
    Larry Satterberg

  • Tobias says:

    I second Carl with the crowdfunding idea! Definitely try that before things are shut down, you might be surprised how many would be willing to pitch in 🙂

  • Chris Bissette says:

    “My approach with these books has been to get a rough idea of where I’m going, dash off a first part to see what works and what doesn’t, then rethink and rewrite as I come up with a more accurate plan for the whole book.”

    Something I’ve often wondered, which I can’t remember if you’ve ever written about on the blog before, is how much planning you put into the structure of your books before you start them? I was looking at the structure of the novels in both The First Law trilogy and the three standalones before Age Of Madness a few days ago as part of a thing I’ve been working on, and at least on the surface they all look very deliberately structured. How much of that is sitting down and putting together an outline of the book and how much of that just comes out of the way you like to tell stories?

  • Christopher Daley says:

    I promise I didn’t drool at all when I read the sentence ARC going out.

  • B-h surfer says:

    I’ve always wondered whether you’ve read/heard of W. G. Sebald. A particular character from Best Served Cold always makes me think of his narrator voice…

  • Chris says:

    With movies or TV, I’ve learned the slam dunk is having a four-part “package” of competently drafted screenplay, interested notable director, interested notable actor, and proven IP. Of course, all this does is provide something a producer can shop around to investors or bring on more producers.

    Anyway, I am currently reading Red Country, and I love it.

  • Richard Allen says:

    Hey Joe, I was wondering what the chances were if the series being adapted for television instead of the Best Served Cold movie? I know there were storyboards and development was made years ago regarding that. Given that Skydance has association with Apple, which would be a perfect streaming home for it, why not go for that? Especially since Apple seems to be one of the few places that are giving shows longevity. The first movie, or even Best Served Cold would be tough to be successful as a film due to the required budget, especially given the variety of sets required for Best Served Cold with all the different cities. Television seems more character focused, much like The First Law is, and it also gives stories time to grow. I’ve been a huge fan of your books for so long, and I’ve always imagined them as a television series. The Blade Itself also doesn’t have any elaborate battles or sets and I would think could easily be made at 8 episodes for under $120 million, which would be reasonably priced for a flagship fantasy series.

  • John Blake Arnold says:

    Glotka is one of the most nuanced characters in fiction.

  • Panda says:

    Making a movie about the 4th book in a series… you lose so much from not having the background and 7 targets in 2-3 hours? You don’t have enough time to develop the ensemble let alone the targets. This would be the best series ever made if they just started from the blade itself and went forward. I don’t get it.

  • Jamie says:

    New books are great and all (seriously thank you) and while it would be incredible to see your world and characters on the screen (still hopping) the real question is how long are we all gonna have to wait to see Ferro again?!

  • Chuck says:

    Better get that advance copy to Steven Pacey so that I can listen to The Devils before the end of the decade. I humbly beseech you.

  • Eelco says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your great books. I’ve never read a word, dus listened all of them multiple times. Ofcourse the news of a video-adaptation of best served cold is marvellous. Steven Pacey’s Castor Morveer is so great (like all characters). Im most looking forward to the next series. I do miss the bloody nine though 🙁 and Ferro! Im probably not alone in wanting her revenge-story writing out. Anyway Thanks for the happiness youve given me with your books.


  • Jane says:

    Currently devouring the audiobooks. Steven Pacey is magnificent in bringing your world and characters to life.

  • Jane says:

    Agree with Eelco, would love a story for Ferro

  • Marc Murray says:

    Looking forward to seeing any adaptation from the circle of The World, whatever form it takes and whenever it happens!

  • Devin Crowd says:

    I would touch the other side without so much as hint of hesitation to get a massive full compendium of all your works, initial writing to publication.

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