Progress Report November ’17

November 27th, 2017

By the dead, but I’ve actually delivered four regular progress reports in a row. Whatever next?

This last 2 month period has mostly been spent revising the first book in my forthcoming trilogy, which now has a working title: A Little Hatred.

One character had an italicised internal voice a la Glokta that I decided to remove.  Just wasn’t really helping.  Rather than it naturally slipping into the prose it felt like I was constantly looking for excuses to include it, so it needed to go.  With Glokta, the italicised voice is the acid things he chooses not to say.  With Gorst, in the Heroes, the same thing worked because he hardly speaks at all.  In the case of this character, though, she’s pretty acid and forthcoming in person, so the thoughts weren’t really adding much she wouldn’t say to someone’s face.  Better that she say it to their face.  A second character then started off with much too sophisticated a voice, and needed to be much more blunt and bluff, less introspective, less a thinker and more an unthinking doer, as well as both more admirable, brave and generous, on the one hand, but also more toxic, heedless and prejudiced on the other.  More intensity altogether.  The other five central points of view needed some less fundamental streamlining and improving, some bringing out of central concerns and traits.  Inspired by Dave Bautista in Blade Runner I gave one guy incongruous little glasses – just gives the character a sense of softness and sensitivity he’s otherwise very lacking.  Plus when things go wrong the fact he can’t actually see who anyone is adds a layer of confusion and danger to proceedings…

Then I took a major set piece that was told from one character’s point of view, and turned it into one of those sequences from many minor points of view that worked so well for me in the Heroes.  Suits this project, which shows a big cross-section through a society in major upheaval, and makes for a more exciting and dynamic sequence.  Then there were a whole load of plotting details that I needed to set up that I now know will become important later in one way or another.  Characters to introduce, or maybe even just mention, that I hadn’t thought of when I wrote the first draft.

Then there were a whole load of details my research had thrown up that I wanted to slip in, some of which spin off ideas that give added texture and drama to a scene, some of which are just throw away lines.  Then there were some tweaks and adjustments to the appearance and voices of secondary characters that have already started to develop in a slightly different direction than I originally conceived.  And there was just a whole lot of cutting to be done.  I was hacking up to 20% out of some of the looser chapters.  Despite a lot of additions the whole thing went from 177,400 words to 170,700.  Probably that will increase again over future revisions as I add some detail into the setting and the characters, but for now it’s reading a lot tighter, with more vivid and defined voices, and I’m aiming for 170-180,000 with these books so that’s pretty much spot on.  A good place to park that first book.  I wouldn’t call it a second draft yet, but maybe it’s a one and a halfth draft?

I had been thinking about doing the same thing to the second book, which I wrote extremely quickly and hence there’s plenty to do, but when it came down to it a) after doing the first one I couldn’t be arsed, and b) having only just finished the first draft of the second one it’s maybe better done with more distance, plus c) the priority is to finish a draft of the third so I can get the first ready to publish, then there’ll be plenty of time to polish the second.  So I settled for a quick read-through and a plan of the various things I’d like to do with each chapter when I can be arsed.  The basic lesson though is that the last part of three is great, but the other two could do with a fair bit of sharpening up and improvement.  It’s a book with a long, slow build to a massive set piece and a set of nice twists, which is fine, but there just needs to be a bit more edge to, and a bit more action in, that buildup.

Things are gonna get messy over the next month or two as we’re moving out to do a load of building work, plus with christmas there will be many distractions.  My main aim is to do a load of reading and come up with a basic plan for the third book, which is still pretty vague in my mind, with a view to cooking up a detailed plan for the first part in january so I can make a start. The dream would be to get a rough draft of the third book done for autumn next year, so I can tackle revisions to the first book by the end of next year and publish later on in 2019.  We shall see though.  I make no promises…

Posted in news, progress by Joe Abercrombie on November 27th, 2017.

52 comments so far

  • Wilfred Berkhof says:

    You had me at “more toxic”.

  • Manuele says:

    Hello Joe,
    this your new book will always be set in the world of the first law? or would you introduce another? I really like your writing and your characterization.

  • Bloody nine says:

    Am I in it?

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    This new trilogy is set in the world of the First Law, yes, you can look back at some of the previous Progress Reports to learn a bit more about it. But yeah, my Shattered Sea trilogy is set in a different world, and I may well write in others in future…

    Surely you’d know…?

  • Carlos Nunes says:

    Iam looking forward to this new trilogy and finaly l will get the in hard backs. Still trying the other books but they’re hard to come by. All the best.

  • Hi Joe,

    I absolutely love your work, and I love progress reports *about* your work. I am very much looking forward to the new trilogy.

    We just had a discussion in my Creative Writing class about the pros and cons of including internal voices in italics, so it was interesting to read that you have been working on this yourself. I think it worked fantastically well for Glokta, as it gave us an insight into the character that greatly enriched him, particularly with the repeated phrase of ‘body found floating in the docks’ – it really made him so much more real, with his contemplating a real fear that would keep bouncing around his mind. But I also understand how it might not work so well with a character who is so much more open than Glokta is.

    Ok, I am waffling now. Really looking forward to your new book, and keep uptake good work, sir!

  • David J says:

    I’m really looking forward to this! Hopefully some more of The Shattered Sea also!

    Any new upcoming fantasy fiction authors I should check out?

  • Arin LaQuadra says:

    Good morning from Florida, Sir.
    Thank you for the updates. It gives us fans something good to look forward to.
    I hope to someday see you tour in our little corner of the peninsula.

  • Darren says:

    Thanks for the update Joe. Hopefully as well as all the new characters there will be plenty of older ones from previous books popping in.
    Would love a Murcatto and shivers meeting!

  • John says:

    Joe, as always , very interesting. I enjoy the inside look at how a story developes into an actual finished project. I wonder though, is it difficult to edit characters or plot lines out? Do you get so invested in a character or story that you have a difficult time letting go?

    Lastly, I thoroughly enjoy Monza in “Best Served Cold”. Do you have a favorite character that you wish you could write more about, or are you able to just continue on to the next project and leave them?

  • L.S. Johnson says:

    Thank you for keeping up these reports. I find them fascinating from a craft perspective, and useful as I get ready to tear apart and rebuild my trilogy next year. Polishing and defining POVs is one of my weaknesses. And the set pieces in the Heroes worked on many levels and I have cribbed them shamelessly, so thank you for another upon which to refine my, ahem, appreciation. 😉

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I rarely edit whole characters or plot lines or even scenes out. Usually it’s a question of adding those things. Cutting for me tends to be more at a paragraph, or more likely line by line, word by word level. When I’ve seen something I want to cut, it’s a delight to lose it. If I’ve decided to cut it it’s because I don’t think it’s delivering enough. Then I feel about it like lightening a rucksack you’ve got to carry up a mountain. Can’t wait to get rid.

    With characters, you get to meet them for a couple of weeks, at their refined, edited, concentrated best. I live with them for a year during their mewling, kicking, troublesome development. Once I’ve finished a project, I’m usually keen to move on to new characters.

  • Mark says:

    This trilogy will be brilogy.

  • Josh says:

    Can’t wait!

    Also, I know you’re busy but I love your movie, TV and video game reviews. Throw us a bone. You’ve made a few suggestions in the past that ended up being great, binge-worthy pieces of entertainment!

  • Rob Campbell says:


    I love reading your progress reports. Good to hear that things are progressing well with the new trilogy.

    I’ve written a short piece on your work for my blog.
    Hope you enjoy it (if you’ve got the time – wouldn’t want to delay work on the new books!)

  • Tony says:

    Good news. Thanks for the update.

  • John D. says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe.

    Having both read and listened to the First Law books, it was interesting to hear the way that Steven Pacey read Glokta’s internal monologue, as I thought this might be a problem. However, the internal voice was extremely well done. For those that don’t know, they decided that Glokta’s spoken lines would be slurred because of his injuries and his internal voice would not be slurred. Magnificently done.

  • Brad says:

    Thanks for the updates and insight into your process Joe. It’s nice to see/hear that my favorite series are being actively worked on. Now this girl with the harsh talk that you cut the internal dialogue from, I assume she’s a northerner? Not too many Union hussies seem to talk like that. Does she have any relatives or friends that we may know from the other books?

  • Steve Hick says:

    Hope Bayaz is a character still in these, I think there’s still a lot more to be revealed about his machinations….

  • Tom says:

    Thank you for the update! Very exciting to be a part of your process as you go, and so pumped for the next TFL installment! As “Lamb” was a pretty old man already in ‘Red Country’, I wondered if he might still make it back into this new story. Maybe him, Shivers and the Dogman could have one last go at trying to help forge “a better world” ALSO: More Ferro? AND ALSO: Any Bedesh? OH AND ALSO: Might storylines and characters arising from the stand alone-ish books make their way into this new trilogy as well? (SPOILER ALERT HERE—-> how awesome would it be to see that steam-punk dragon come to life, or Shenkt pair up with, say, some heroes..)

  • Riley the Wit's Son says:


    I’ve been a fantasy fan since the moment I came screaming into yhis world. I’ve read everything you can think of, good and bad, high and low, and I truly cannot say I’ve found anything that compares to your body of work. I love and respect every novel and story you’ve ever written. More than that though, I love and respect you as a writer. We live in a world of constant status updates, tweets, notes, adaptations, and other such Bullshit.

    I won’t name names, as I still respect the bodies of work that these writers have created, BUT many a writer these days, especially in the fantasy genre, seem to be trading the integrity of their creations for a good word and a quick buck.

    You seem to be an exception to that rule. I have never read a blog post that seemed like an assistant wrote it, never felt like you were updating simply to placate your hordes of fans, and never felt like you were any less than somebody who cares about his fans just as much as his story.

    Your books make me laugh, cry, squirm, and cheer every time I pick them up. (In no particular order I might add). I tout you as my favorite author to anyone patient enough to listen. For many who do its probably the 3rd or 4th of these rants, but do I care? Hells no.

    I’m basically writing this to say: Thank You. Keep updating, keep writing, take your time, and give us the story the world deserves. I hope to shake your hand someday.

    “If you say one thing about the Bloody-Joe, say he’s a writer. A real one.”

  • Ben Tully says:

    Will Ferro feature in this series? Would love to read more about her. Thought her and Ninefingers could have had an illegitimate baby maybe…
    Thanks for the updates.
    Roll on 2019!

  • Felix says:

    Really looking forward to these ones. Can’t wait to get some details on the main characters.

  • Twerker says:

    Glokta’s and Gorst’s italicised internal voices are one of the funniest things I’ve ever stumbled upon in a book (and I mean that in the best possible way), those bits really cracked me up and are one of the reasons why I enjoyed the books so much. That said, this new trilogy sounds like an absolute BLAST. I can’t wait, but that’s stuff you’re probably already aware of. Thanx for the updates, mate. Have a good one!

  • Chris says:

    Thank you Joe, a very wonderful update on a dark day when I was feeling down. Good read which inspires motivation to keep on going. All the best.

  • David says:

    Reasons not to top myself: the thought of how many cups of tea left to drink, and the prospect of new Jabercrombie trilogy.

  • David says:

    I can’t single out what’s my favorite aspect of this (these) post(s).
    Is it that one of my favorite authors CAN be arsed to keep us up on his progress?
    Is it that I sense so many similarities to my own process and am thus heartened that a future in this industry may yet be mine?
    Is it that I’m intrigued to know what inspires you and influences your stories?
    Is it that your prose is just so goddamn magnificent that I dribble mindlessly in adoration over your every word?
    … Sure. I’m feeling generous.

    Honest question, if you would. How do you keep up with the details (lore, characters, mentions, etc) of your more expansive worlds? I’ve become enamored of Scrivener, to the point that I need to dedicate a formal blog post over it. It’s a great hub that can currently house all Silexare’s existing stories and its lore. But I’m always looking for better solutions.
    And ways to procrastinate.

  • Div Div says:

    You take all the time you need, Joe.

    But whatever you do, you make SURE ‘ol Steven Pacey does the reading of these here ventures, yeah?

  • Lexi says:

    Hi Joe,

    Only one question and nothing more.

    Would Ardee’s child(ren?) appear in the new trilogy.


    Love you 🙂

  • Matteo says:

    Hi Joe, thanks for your hard work.
    I assume that after we have spent the standalone books in basically all the First Law world, now it should be the time for Gurkish Empire ambientation: will we see Ferro in action?

  • Jorge says:

    I am too excited about these new books and i know they are going to be great cause you just put tones of efforts on them. Just relax on Christmas and not stress yourself xD.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    It’ll be a thrillogy.

    Certainly characters from both the trilogy and the standalones will appear, and loom large in the background.

    I have some stuff for keeping the details straight: a big timeline of all the characters, lists of kings of the Union, maps, stuff like that, but mostly it comes down to keeping it in mind and a big read-through of everything during the edit to try and make sure I haven’t fucked up.

    Five of the central cast of seven have parents a diligent reader will have run into at least in passing before. I won’t say who, though…

  • Practical Gorst says:


  • Practical Gorst says:

    P.s can’t wait to see how stranger come knocking’s civilization is coming along. He reminds me somewhat of judge Holden, which is about the highest praise I have.

  • Jerry says:


    Big fan. Stopped by your blog to see when you’re publishing next. If I read correctly, not until 2019!!!

    Looking back – there was only one year you didn’t have a book coming out (2010) since your 1st novel in 2006. Now no book in 2017 AND 2018?!?!?

    Yes, I’m being selfish – Just hate seeing your output moving you towards a “Rothfussian” RR Martin.

    Best Regards

  • Violetta says:

    That thing in The Heroes with multiple points of view from minor characters? I LOVED that.

  • Doctor W says:

    Thanks for the update! Love your work, mate.

  • KingInYellow says:


    Since you finished your first trilogy, and released it on audiobook, I listen to it about once a year, followed by all of the other books you’ve written in that world. In order of course. Every time I read (listen) it I find little things that I missed previously and it makes it that much better. I absolutely love your books and can’t get enough. Between the First Law world and the Malayan world, my entire year is covered for re-reading material 😀

    I’d like to say that your choice of narrator, Steven Pacey, was beyond excellent. I know it’s early, but will this new trilogy be released as audiobooks and will you use Steven Pacey again?

    Two more things: Have you seen the Yellow Sign? If not, have I got a play for you to read!

  • Kevin says:

    I’m very disappointed that there are still no plans for a Lord Grimdark Cookbook for Christmas. If half-arsed so called celebrities can churn them out, why are you missing out on easy money?

  • Brad says:

    Just keep writing books how you do.




  • Michael Erskine says:

    2019… sigh. Pretty monumental an effort I guess, will wait with anticipation. Will add my voice to those clamouring for reading suggestions you might have. Thanks for keeping on the writing gig, so many I know have scampered off into screenplays etc.

  • Tom says:

    awesome!!! rereading the heroes again now, such a great one!

  • Chase says:


    Thank you for writing the manual.
    Eventually, I will subdue the other tribes of this peninsula and take control of the region.
    On that day, I will name you Elder.
    You will remove the distal metacarpal of choice from my many children, all named Logen.
    We will rename the land Ninefingerland.
    We will carry many knives.
    But only one pot.
    We will love dark women.
    And pray that nobody pisses us off.


  • Alejandro says:

    Just came here to say I really love the idea of Joe writing a complete big Story before starting to publish the single books.
    And the positive Thing is that Abercrombie books seem to sell well enough in the German speaking market to guarantee translations of all parts.
    Unfortunately it is a very negative trend here that series will just be stopped somewhere in the middle in case they are not Meeting target figures.

  • Marcos says:

    Man, we all love your work. First law books are really really awesome. I just cannot wait to put my hands on this new trilogy. Hope you can finish it soon!! (2019 ??) Thanks again and greetings from Spain!!

  • Emilee says:

    Is the fate of Alice going to be mentioned in the new books? I really want to know what has happened between her and Stranger-Come-Knocking. It’s such a cliffhanger.

  • Him Shoots says:

    I am a big fan of your work.
    Plowed through all your books in record time. Re-read some.
    Bought others that only had a hint of your skills.
    Now you make us wait until 2019?
    I volunteer to test-read all your drafts!

  • Ulfric says:

    I’m not sure if you have ever been to Washington State in the United States, but just yesterday I drove through BREMERton and, ten minute later, was driving through the town of Gorst. Weird coincidence.

  • Elliott says:

    Thanks for the regular updates, Joe! Having read all of your books, it’s quite the treat to get a glimpse of the process of a mad bastard like yourself. Seriously, I love what you’ve brought to the genre, and unlike GRRM, your work continues to get better. I originally read all your books with my own eyes, fool that I was, but I’ve gone back the past few months to enjoy them all again on audio. Steven Pacey was the perfect man for the job! Keep up the good work and hopefully we’ll get a 2017 year in review from you soon. I need something to filter through everything Netflix offers, after all…

  • Zafri Mollon says:

    Nothing on tv even came close to Handmaid’s Tale this year. If you watch anything any tv or movies from this 2017, it should be the first season of this show. (Looking forward to more of your work and enjoying Kings of the Wyld after just finishing re-reading Half A King!)

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    It’s amazing what you forget when you think over the year – yeah, Handmaid’s Tale was brilliant. Crushing.

  • Kelly says:

    Would it be too much to ask for you to write as fast as we read? Re-read First Law and Sharp Ends over the last 2 months, no one does grit and grind or morally flawed heroes like you, sir.

Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *