Back in update #3, I promised to check back with you mid summer. I'm here a little early, as this felt like a good point to let you know how your book is going. Yesterday, I finished Part One of the novel, which (at 111k words) puts us at just under the 28% mark, assuming the book is 400k words total. (The first book was around that; the next two were longer, so fair warning, the % may not be entirely accurate.)
The short, TLDR version, is this: Part One is done, the book is looking good, and I'm modestly confident in a 2020 release.
Read below for a more fiddly, numbers oriented analysis of how things are going.
I gave myself 10 months to do the rough draft as a hypothetical deadline. That is a little on the quick side, but doable. That translates to about 1300 words a day, if I were writing seven days a week. (Which I don't do--I usually manage to write new fiction four days a week, with one day dedicated to email, meetings, newsletters, grading student finals, that sort of thing.) Once in a while, I sneak in a little work on Saturday, but I don't count on it.
What this really means is during those four days writing time, I need to do about 9k total words to keep pace. This wordcount number, I should warn you, is more a way for me to judge my progress rather than it is an absolute requirement. The writing process needs to remain flexible, even for someone who likes a strong outline like myself, and while guidelines for wordcounts are helpful, I'm careful not to treat them like a factory quota, to be achieved regardless of quality.
They are helpful for pace, though. In an average week, I commonly do between 8k and 15k of writing, so this is a manageable goal. With that in mind, how is it going?
Well, as talked about in the last post, I started Stormlight about a month late because of some work I decided needed to be done on Starsight. That meant I started the book at about 44k words behind in April. Steady writing through April up until May saw me making up ground. When I flew to Germany for the tour there, I was 31k behind instead, and was feeling good about the progress.
Germany was, of course, a disaster for new writing. (Tours almost always are.) I got some work done on a sequel novella to Sixth of the Dusk, but no Stormlight writing. (Really complex narrative is difficult for me to do when traveling a lot, as it requires more focus than I can often give.)
When I got back, I had slipped to 52k words behind. I dove back in, and restored the writing grove for Roshar, and have made back most of that time. As of yesterday, I'm 33k words behind, assuming I want to have the rough draft done by January 1st. (Which is pretty much a must if I want to release the book in 2020.)
As before, I do need to give the warning that if the book needs more time, I WILL take it. I recognize that is what most of you would like anyway, so we'll see what happens. Part One, however, turned out very close to my plan--and I'm pleased with it. As I said, this book follows more of a Book One style plot than a Book Two or Three style plot. The characters will be mostly isolated doing their own thing in three separate plot lines, interwoven in the narrative, but with little interaction between them. In fact, the three different arcs should (if I work it out right) hit their climaxes at three different points, giving a more sequential hit of more intimate plot moments rather than one big enormous finale, like happened in Books Two/Three. (Not that there's anything wrong with that; I just prefer some variety. Book Five, as you should be able to guess, will be more like Books Two/Three than Books One/Four.)
So my next step is to dive into a revision of Part One. This will put us a little more behind, as it will take about a week--but it will let me get the first chunk (which is book length on its own) to Moshe for editing over the next few months. That way, we can use his time in parallel to mine, as well as let Karen do continuity edits and Peter (eventually) do an editorial pass.
If that works as it should, and if I do this with each part as I finish them, I'll have 3/4 of the book waiting with editorial work done on it come January 1st. That will let me dive into a third draft immediately.
My goal after the revision of Part One is to pick one of the character clusters mentioned in the previous updates, and work on it straight through to the end. (I'll probably pick the second arc, which should be around 80k words long and follow three viewpoint characters in their distinct plot sequence.)
As always, thanks for reading and for putting up with my eccentricities as a writer. As a note, like in the other posts, I will not be sending replies to my inbox--so apologies if I miss something you say in this thread.