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Thursday, July 26, 2012

One year later: the scorecard

Well, I didn't hit my target. One year ago today, I set myself the goal of writing a better epic than the very disappointing A Dance with Dragons - best to be reasonable, after all - and to do the first 295,000-word draft in a single year. This was inspired by Spacebunny's cousin's bitter complaints about the time it took George Martin to write his most recent novel, especially in light of the final product.

I didn't quite make it, but I did get a bit more than 90 percent of the way there, as I'm presently at 267,000 and counting, which is around 650 pages in trade paperback. I expect to finish before the end of August and you can expect to be able to put it on your Christmas lists if you're interested; I'll provide specific information about that in October.

What I've learned from this is that setting realistic goals tends to be less useful than setting unrealistic and ambitious ones. Even if you don't hit them, you'll get considerably farther than with the more conservative ones. I tend to doubt I will keep up this pace for my next book, but I doubt it will take me four years to do a comparatively minor 100k one either.

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32 Comments:

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) July 26, 2012 3:40 PM  

I just finished A Storm of Swords and I thought it was a well written book. I did not expect the Freys to betray and slay Robb though. I have just started A Feast for Crows.

Who's your favorite character? Mine was Eddard Stark until his head took leave of his body. Now it's Jon Snow.

Anonymous jack July 26, 2012 3:49 PM  

Darn it Fubar, now I will have to wait a year to forget what you just said. Then, I can read Storm and Feast, maybe.

Vox; Looking forward to the book. I intend to buy hardback and Kindle if its on Kindle. If on Kindle please try to get it ported for text to speech. Thanks...

Anonymous VD July 26, 2012 4:00 PM  

If on Kindle please try to get it ported for text to speech. Thanks...

Duly noted. I will be sure to remind the publisher. Do you know if there is anything special that needs to be done or is it simply an option when the book is uploaded to Amazon?

Who's your favorite character?

Until the latest book, Tyrion. I also like Cersei as a distinct, well-drawn character. I never liked Jon Snow. He knows nothing. I have absolutely come to loathe Danaerys, which is a pity, as I originally liked her.

Anonymous E. PERLINE July 26, 2012 4:06 PM  

I rite too and here's what I learned from from bitter experience. You can't write novels while you're in a hurry, unless you have a master novel and make only templates of that novel. Many authors do this and are able to put quite a few books on the market. Their name is the commodity.

If you want to write a "great" book you have to re-write it at least 20 times and you still get no guarantee it will be advertised enough. Yesterday I bought the software "Dragon," which you can get for $60 in Walmart. It automatically converts the spoken voice into type and is far faster than typing it yourself if you don't mind your style becoming conversational, rather than literary. In my case maybe it will be an improvement.

Anonymous Daniel July 26, 2012 4:11 PM  

Totally agree with the insane goal thing. I began to do that in January and have been quite pleased to realize that even my failures have been beyond realistic expectation. Achievement is still possible, so we'll see if I aimed too low.

Anonymous O.C. July 26, 2012 4:12 PM  

> Do you know if there is anything special that needs to be done or is it simply an option when the book is uploaded to Amazon?

It's simply an option: one of a bunch of checkboxes to be clicked when uploading the file.

Anonymous duckman July 26, 2012 4:12 PM  

I don't think Martin should get another cent from his writing unless he can wrap up the current series he's made such a dog's breakfast of (Song of Fire and Ice - if there's any doubt as to what I mean) in less than 150 pages.

Anonymous Daniel July 26, 2012 4:24 PM  

E. Perline
If you want to write a "great" book you have to re-write it at least 20 times and you still get no guarantee it will be advertised enough. Yesterday I bought the software "Dragon," which you can get for $60 in Walmart. It automatically converts the spoken voice into type and is far faster than typing it yourself if you don't mind your style becoming conversational, rather than literary. In my case maybe it will be an improvement.

I disagree a bit. Hack novelist Max Brand (aka Frederick Faust and others) pounded out, about 15,000 words a day for the pulps, and ended up, by sheer volume, turning out three great books and literally hundreds of good, readable ones. The Seventh Man rivals Blood Meridian, As I Lay Dying and Heart of Darkness for quality.

He published at an insane rate: something like 1,000,000 words a day. I think Ellison's rule 3 (or whatever): Write, don't revise is a good one.

JD Salinger's "great" work was a collection of short stories, then he got excessively famous for Catcher and then quit. That's one way to go. Another way is to keep cranking and moving on.

Please update on your Dragon plan. It would be neat to see if the experiment increases your production.

Anonymous Daniel July 26, 2012 4:32 PM  

Oh, and Vox: condolences on your failure. I hope it pays a mint.

Anonymous VD July 26, 2012 5:06 PM  

Who's your favorite character?

Wait, what on Westeroth am I saying? Littlefinger has been my favorite from the start. And whoever plays him for HBO has been doing a bang-up job with the character.

Anonymous Kyle In Japan July 26, 2012 5:11 PM  

I'm currently in A Storm of Swords and loving the series so far, too bad it apparently goes way downhill after this book. I think Tyrion is one of the best characters I've ever read, and Bronn is pretty cool too. I didn't care all that much about Dany until she pulled that awesome stunt in the slaver city. I'm very doubtful that Martin is going to finish this series before he kicks the bucket, though. Hopefully the show will condense and slim down the ponderous latter books in the series and give it a satisfying conclusion.

My personal writing goal is about five pages (12-point, single spaced, Open Office doc) per day.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) July 26, 2012 5:12 PM  

Jon Snow becomes Lord Commander of the black brothers and he knows nothing? I disagree, because if it weren't for Jon, the wall would've been lost.

I forgot about Littlefinger, being that he isn't covered much.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) July 26, 2012 5:14 PM  

jack July 26, 2012 3:49 PM Darn it Fubar, now I will have to wait a year to forget what you just said. Then, I can read Storm and Feast, maybe.


Sorry man, I didn't know unlike Vox who should've know he was spoiling the part where Tyrion is floating down the river.

Anonymous SDH July 26, 2012 5:24 PM  

Tyrion was my favourite until Feast, I also liked Sandor Clegane and Ned while they were around.

I guess it's between Darkstar and Coldhands now. Littlefinger, Varys, Jamie and Cersei are the only other characters of any interest.

Hotah maybe as well.

Vox, there will be a hardcover version?

Anonymous VD July 26, 2012 6:12 PM  

Vox, there will be a hardcover version?

No, trade paperback, Kindle, and EPUB initially. I suppose we might if it sells well enough.

Anonymous Rantor July 26, 2012 7:02 PM  

Congratulations, I am waiting with great expectations.

Anonymous ridip July 26, 2012 7:47 PM  

Looking forward to it.

If you haven't read Martin or seen Game of Thrones, which should you do first?

Anonymous Stephen J. July 26, 2012 8:40 PM  

Aiden Gillen is the fellow playing Littlefinger on HBO.

Vox, any chance you could post the "back of the book" summary blurb for Vol. 1 of AOD&L here?

Anonymous Vidad July 26, 2012 8:56 PM  

I'm impressed, Vox. Pretty dang good for a sprinter, I must say.

Truthfully, it was talking with you some months back that gave me the final push to nail my own novel together (though I haven't finished the editing process yet). If you can overcome your mad idea-generating tendencies and take on something this epic, I figured I could finish my shorter project.

(Of course, if the entire novel is a sentence like "All work and no play makes Vox a dull boy" a million times over, I take back the preceding.)

Anonymous SDH July 26, 2012 8:58 PM  

If you haven't read Martin or seen Game of Thrones, which should you do first?

Read the books.

Blogger IM2L844 July 26, 2012 9:18 PM  

I'm inspired to start my million word epic fantasy series. On second thought, that sounds like a lot of work for someone who hates writing and lacks talent. I'll just stick with reading.

Anonymous JI July 26, 2012 9:57 PM  

You bet I'll buy it from you, Bubba. I refuse to read A Dance with Dragons after all the negative press. Big disappointment for a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire.

Anonymous cheddarman July 26, 2012 10:10 PM  

Looking forward to the release, and buying some copies for friends...

sincerely

cheddarman

Anonymous E. PERLINE July 26, 2012 11:49 PM  

Daniel, L. Ron Hubbard not only invented Scientology, he wrote for the pulps at a penny a word and made the NY Times best seller list 11 years in a row. He was a "Hammering John Henry" kind of writer but I never met anyone who read his work. I did read Catcher in the Rye and found it depressing, and wih no redeeming qualities. Maybe Salinger's fellow professors just felt like boosting one of their own.

I suppose that when I start using Dragon software I'll have to literally treat a novel like a bedtime story and let the plot unfold as it will. Whether it succeeds or not, the effort should be interesting.

Anonymous E. PERLINE July 27, 2012 12:02 AM  

Vox, I'm looking forward to reading your books. I'm sure there's a movie in them.

Anonymous Suomynona July 27, 2012 12:07 AM  

VD July 26, 2012 5:06 PM
Who's your favorite character?

Wait, what on Westeroth am I saying? Littlefinger has been my favorite from the start. And whoever plays him for HBO has been doing a bang-up job with the character.


Littlefinger is a little too snakey for me.

Jon Snow is a wide-eyed innocent full of anger and stupidity. He got his men killed because he was too much of a pussy to execute that obnoxious ginger Wildling chick. That actress gets on my nerves.

I like Daenerys as of the end of season 2, but it was her meddling in the affairs of the men (which was only possible because her husband didn't stand up to her and tell her to stay out of it) that got her husband and child killed, and ruined everything for the Dothrakis. I was like, "Yeah, suffer bitch. It's all YOUR fault!" Still, she's the mother of dragons...

Robb Starck is good, but he made some stupid decisions, like sending Theon back home. He did show some backbone when he put his mother in her place. These stupid meddling bitches always cause problems because they think they know better than everyone else.

Anyhoo, I have no favorites. The ones who are supposed to be the good guys all have weaknesses that make them kind of stupid. The ones who are supposed to be the villains are more interesting, and even likeable in some cases, like Tyrion of course, who is the most likeable underdog villain - he's intelligent, objective, and actually has a conscious. Except for Theon - he is such a despicable little shit that nobody can stand him, not even his own men. That sinuous White Walker freak shrieking at the very end of season 2 has more charisma than Theon.

Anonymous kawaika July 27, 2012 12:15 AM  

I don't think Martin should get another cent from his writing unless he can wrap up the current series he's made such a dog's breakfast of ... in less than 150 pages.

That's a laugh, like George Rape-Rape Martin can wrap it up so quickly. No, he will rape it up slowly. The final rape scene will probably end up being 150 pages.

Anonymous VD July 27, 2012 3:17 AM  

Vox, any chance you could post the "back of the book" summary blurb for Vol. 1 of AOD&L here?

Summa Elvetica meets A Game of Thrones, with the Social War in the place of The Wars of the Roses.

A surprising amount of people don't realize that the historical war between York (Stark) and Lancaster (Lannister) is the core foundation of Martin's books. He doesn't follow the historical events very closely, but that's where it all starts. Cersei, for example, is Margaret of Anjou, while Ned Stark is Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation (Ben) July 27, 2012 11:02 AM  

I didn't know game of thrones was based on historical events. It may be interesting to read the history of that war.

Can't believe everyone here beating up on Jon. You do realize he's a teenager? It's a pretty big responsibility to be lord commander when you're a teenager, don't you think? Except if you're a super intelligence like Vox. Vox would've ruined the story because he would've know exactly what to do, ahaha.

Anonymous Daniel July 27, 2012 11:29 AM  

Summa Elvetica meets A Game of Thrones, with the Social War in the place of The Wars of the Roses.

Whoa. Does it take place before SE, or are you just referring to a type of Social War, not necessarily historically?

In any case, I think I may now have a good idea at the deeper meaning of a throne of bones...

Can't wait for the book.

Anonymous VD July 27, 2012 1:51 PM  

Does it take place before SE, or are you just referring to a type of Social War, not necessarily historically?

After.

Blogger A July 27, 2012 4:51 PM  

I wonder how many married couple sex scenes there will be.

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