Progress Report September ’17

September 27th, 2017

Look at me with my regular bi-monthly updates.  Don’t get used to it, is my advice…

I have now, I’m delighted to say, finished a first draft of the third and final part of the second book in my work in progress trilogy.  So two books down, one to go.  That means I’ve planned, written and lightly revised this second book in around six months, which is totally record time for me, especially given it’s around the 175,000 word mark.  Don’t get too excited, though, there’s a lot of work still to do to these two, and when I’ll get started on the third is hard to say.

The original plan with these books had been to do something similar to what I’d done with the First Law, way back before I was a published – let alone a full-time – author: take my time on each chapter, live with the characters, rewrite a lot and develop the voices at leisure.  In practice I’ve done the exact opposite, dashed through two books worth of rough draft leaving a lot of mess and doubt in my wake.  But I think that’s left me with a strong framework and a good idea of where I’m going.  Now I feel the time has come to go back and sharpen things up, read it through and think about it, smooth off those character arcs, get the characters and their voices a bit more defined, introduce secondary characters in the right places, build up some sub-plots and prune out others, and just generally add some edge.  Who knows, I might even enrich the setting a little while I’m at it.  Meanwhile I can do some reading, soak it all up, let it marinate, develop the endings, and hopefully come to that third book with a diamond-edged idea of what I’m doing and two books that are a lot closer to completion.

How long this process will take, especially with a lot of other stuff going on, it is hard to say.  But I will try to keep you informed…

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

39 comments so far

  • Christina says:

    Hi there, Joe! I’m a big fan, but who here isn’t, right? I’ve been following your blog for a while, commented in the past, and I’m so thrilled to see that you still respond in the comment section. Apologies if you’ve answered this elsewhere already (and if so, please just point me in the right direction), but I’m always curious about my favorite authors’ creative process. From beginning to end of a more or less polished draft, how long does it generally take you and how do you tend to go about it? Do you have a particular approach to fleshing out characters or layering your mini storyarcs within the overall plot? How do you like to worldbuild? And most of all, how do you stay rejuvenated and fresh in your creation?

  • Chris says:

    Congrats Joe. That’s incredibly output, especially considering you don’t employ assistants. It’s good to hear frank assessments of your writing and progress.

    Why are you letting things marinate now (as opposed to after book 1 draft, or after drafting all 3 in one go)? Is this to avoid the ‘saggy middle book’ syndrome of trilogies?

  • David J says:

    I’m enjoying the updates! I’m looking forward to these books!

  • innokenti says:

    Always great to hear about the progress!

    Let the marinading prove fruitful…

  • Darren says:

    Thanks for the update Joe. Can’t wait to read the new trilogy but will look at her 10 year anniversary edition of Before They Are Hanged first. Any dates or news on that?

  • Michael says:

    Great, at this point you are the only author I would automatically purchase. Great work, and Lacey is terrific also!

  • tom says:

    hooray! love reading these updates. happy to add more joe abercrombie books to my collection whenever possible!

  • Roger says:

    Thanks for the update, Joe. It’s always great to know how your work is progressing, specially when there are such great news to share! It’s incredible that you already have to books in draft form!!

    While reading this, I was wondering if it would be possible to have a small peek at the draft forms of some of your earlier works, just to have a better idea of the whole thing evolves. I’d love to see how Logen or Glokta sounded in your first drafts, or read some of the early chapters from the Dogman written in first person. It would be amazing if you could share some of that in this blog.

    Anyway, congrats for the progress!

  • Jim says:

    Nice one!

    Loving these updates!

    Can you share any info about your TV project yet? Or is it still very hush hush…

  • Tonygeeks says:

    I always add a liberal dose of Bourbon …Wild Turkey Rare Breed ….to all my marinades……you ?

  • Paolo miranda says:

    When will we see the series on TV?

  • alec keene says:

    take your time Joe, i rather you work it out right and give us a great trilogy. Just have to re-read your other books.

  • Bethan says:

    That first sentence read like one of those horrible maths questions…

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Well that is a big question to answer in comments – if you go up to the categories tab, and click on ‘process’, you’ll see all the posts I’ve made down the years in that line, which should answer some of your questions…

    I’ve sometimes thought of doing that, but it’s pretty cumbersome to do – a given page might change a lot at some stages of the process but not much at others, and it’s obviously a fair bit to post several times, so I’ve never hit on a way to really do it elegantly.


  • Dumond says:

    “That means I’ve planned, written and lightly revised this second book in around six months, which is totally record time for me”

    …alright, where’s Bayaz. Where’s that ancient bastard at, he’s clearly boosting this guy.

    Dirty cheaters.

  • Marcus says:

    Yay more books! I raise a clenched fist in salute at your general direction.

  • Cheynne says:

    Good stuff Joe. I always enjoy these little updates and the way you phrase your ‘polishing shit up’ process is music to another writer’s ears. That’s me, btw – totally unpublished but going full-blown indie and proud. It’s all thanks to you that I started this f@*$ing writing lark in the first place … I don’t know how you sleep at night.

    I liked the recent pic of one of your own edited pages. Very insightful. I’ve always loved your sometimes ‘blunted’ sentences and the way you keep ’em snappy, getting us further into your character’s grizzled heads. It’s definitely influenced my own clumsy writing, much to my editor’s dismay!

    Sounds like you’re smashing it timewise. Can’t wait for the new books. You’re the only author I buy without first looking at the blurb on the back cover. Sometimes I don’t even look at the cover. Sometimes I just keep my eyes closed whilst walking around Waterstones. It’s how I roll. Especially whence falling over.

    Loves ya man. Best of luck with the writing; the world will be a better place for it.

  • Practical Carl says:

    Cheers for the updates Joe, just finishing the trilogy for the 3rd time and they get better every time. Can’t wait to for more first law goodness, appreciate the hard work.

  • Jeff says:

    Hey Joe,
    I’ve been a huge fan since The Heroes which I picked up on a whim, and have since read everything else you’ve published. I’ve been a regular reader of this blog, but have never commented. After reading Michael’s comment I realized you are one of four authors I buy on sight, Bernard Cornwall, Patrick Rothfuss and Jim Butcher are the other three. My dad turned me on to sci-fi, fantasy, and history at a very young age. He was fascinated by the Conan stories of Howard as a kid and did two tours in Vietnam Nam as a sniper. Growing up our house looked like a library of military history and sf/fantasy.
    I sent him your First Law trilogy after I finished it and he too became a big fan. When I finished Red Country I sent it to him knowing how much he loved old westerns. Dad described it as, “the fantasy western I never knew I always wanted to read.” My dad passed away shortly after finishing that book, it was still on his nightstand when we cleaned out his house. I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for giving my dad one last grand adventure and for helping me remember all the great conversations we had discussing your books every time talked.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Thanks for the comment, man. I’m not easily moved, but that one moved me.

  • AntMac says:

    Wow. That was nice to read, Jeff. I feel a real sense of envy for your bond with your dad.

    It has given me a lot of pleasure giving copies of The Sword Itself to my niece and nephews, too. It is a special kind of thing to have shared our love of reading a particular book with family. My sister read LoTR to my twin and I, and when my twins children were little, I would go over some nights and pick up the copy he was reading to them, and read on.

    Joe, I wonder if you are going to be playing Red Dead Redemption ?.

  • Chad says:

    Thanks for the update; I really appreciate it.

    I think you mentioned some time ago that there was a chance that the First Law would get developed for TV. Is that still happening?

  • David says:

    Back when you were working on Red Country (my favourite) you gave out a list of what you were reading for inspiration. What are reading these days for this new trilogy?


  • DDD says:

    As long as the great Steven Pacey will be reading them you can take all the time you want.

  • O.R says:

    Thanks for the updates Joe.

    I can’t wait to get my claws on those books when they hit the shelves. Your combination of interesting characters in funny/dire situations makes make gape and splutter with laughter at the same time.

    Keep up the good work!

  • DD-A says:

    many thanks for creating characters that ring true for me. I’ve read from The Blade Itself through to Red Country, in order, 8 times now. The covers are worn, many pages are dog-eared where I’ve discovered quotes and truisms that I have come to use in my daily life.
    You manage to add in likeable humour, allowable weaknesses, and everyday flaws into even the most despicable characters.
    By the time the covers are ready to fall off your new trilogy will be ready to be broken in.
    My thanks.

  • Andrew Bonar says:

    Hi Joe, just finished reading your First Law Trilogy. Was not sure st first when reading the sample. Lot of names initially, which he’m really puts me off, but had no books to read, so took the gamble and really enjoyed the three books- great read. But have to say not happy at all that you called it a Trilogy when it is clearly not that. As it has ended part way through what is intended as something far longer than three books. It means I now have wait until you continue and finish the series. It now joins another two lots of incomplete series both around 45 years of a wait. Hope you do not take that long. Andyb

  • Gruumsh says:

    Please two things:
    1-have someone draw some detailed maps!
    2- we want the great voice of Pacey read them

  • Ethan says:

    Hi Joe,

    Most appreciative for the updates regarding the new trilogy. I’ve fallen back into the First Law world via your audiobooks, courtesy of the incredible narration of Steven Pacey. At every given opportunity I’ve been shoving my copy of The Blade Itself into the hands of my friends who are looking for their next great read. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m a die hard fan of your work, and tremendously appreciative that it exists. Eagerly anticipating your new trilogy. After re-reading Red Country and based on what you said about the new three piece taking place 20 years after Red Country, do they involve a revitalized Starikland rebellion? Also, any plans for more stories featuring Javre and Shevediah? Thanks again for the updates and the work.

  • Pogo the dog says:

    Yeah, great, blah blah blah… just work harder…. almost finished Shattered Sea second reading and then what? Is it more important that you’re happy or I’m happy? Answer’s pretty clear from here and let’s forget false modesty and agree that your first draft is better than your compatriots neverending non-story.

    So give us what you got and do an extended “Director’s Cut” afterword.

  • Ryan Cloud says:

    Hi Lord Grimdark,

    Happy to hear about your recent post update on the next trilogy! When completed will you be releasing them one at a time or will they be available for purchase all together?

    I remain your Majesty’s most faithful and unworthy reader, Ryan dan Cloud, Non Royal Observer of The First Law

  • Steve williams says:

    Hey joe.
    Think I’ve heard that line somewhere else….
    Anyway, I don’t normally comment on these things, as my typical English reservedness kicks in and stills my words.
    I would just like to say this as I feel you deserve applause for well, basically everything you have written so far. I have devoured it. As we have limited space in our 4 room house (8 large bookshelves) we are are careful what we buy in hardback. However, your volumes adorn my personal collection along with George, Terry Pratchett, Tolkien and C S Lewis.
    Sorry if I embarrass you with my gushing but as a 45 year old male it doesn’t happen very often.
    Thank you and keep up your most excellent work

  • Kris Kelvin says:

    Hey Joe,

    IMO, The First Law is the greatest story of all time… of ALL time!
    You know what would be great? A story mostly taking place in the gurkish empire!

    Thank you forever!

  • Rich M Down Under says:

    Mr Abercrombie,
    Thank you so much for your updates and dedication. You’ve become my favourite writer and I’ve been recommending all things First Law to my colleagues and mates. Perhaps, once you have the time, an Australian trip to sign some books? First shout is on me.

  • Ryan says:

    Good Morning Joe,

    I just finished the first law based off of a Flipboard recommendation of all things. Your book was amazing! I wasn’t impressed with the story until about the time Bayaz came in. Then everything started meshing and making sense to me.

    Just bought book two off of Amazon and cannot wait to get into it. Wanted to say thank you for the amazing (can’t quite call it beautiful) story.


  • Marco says:

    Joe, thank you for the updates! Love all of your books, please do not stop!

  • Dejan says:

    Dear Joe,

    actually I am writing just to say hello from Serbia ( south east Europe ). I am a huge fan o epic fantasy and your writings are without real contender in my book. Lucky for me, most of your books are translated here, and I am recommending them to anybody even remotely interested on fantasy genre. You certainly deserve it. Keep up the good work and all the best from Serbia!

  • Alejandro says:

    Big fan here not only of the author but also the person JA looking forward to the new trilogy.
    That being said I would love to read some reviews of games, TV, single Malta etc. again. Did you play Nioh?
    Any chance?

  • Elizosurf says:

    Big-huge fan,
    I write you from Spain (I´ve read all your books in Spanish)
    Thank you very much for writing and giving us the chance to move into your imagination.
    I´ve read all your books this 2017 and shared them with my family and friends and they all loved it, is a main topic on our book-conversations, even tho, we don´t like fantasy very much, but we loved yours.

    I have to say, that the narrative you use to explain the northern race is just amazing, really amazing. Very well elaborated, very well defined. a 10.

    Thank you again for writing

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