Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Writing Update.

Righto, I’ve just cleared 60,000 words on a book that now has only a remote chance of being called Penny Royal. As I implied before, there’s just too much going on and too much yet to happen for this whole story to fit into one book. Characters and plot threads are sprouting like jungle saplings in much the same way as they did with The Voyage of the Sable Keech. I now have to take care to prune carefully and not allow them to turn into said jungle.

For those of you that don’t know a modern day writer’s contract often specifies a minimum number of words and mine specifies 120,000. The only time I’ve ever come close to that is with Cowl, which weighed in at 126,000. Everything else has been above that – the biggest one being The Line of Polity at 172,000 and others generally loitering around the 140,000 word mark, so 60,000 words is nearing halfway for me. Every week day I’ve sat down at my computer I’ve done my 2,000 words and, over the last few weeks, I’ve been hitting my target of 10,000 per week. At this rate, then, I could have a first draft done by April … except I’m not going to do that.

The next book I deliver, after Jupiter War (which Caroline is reading through now), doesn’t really have to be delivered until around about September 2013 so I have about one year and seven months in hand. What I intend to do (once I’ve gone through Jupiter War for the last time and sent it in) is just carry on writing. I’m not going to aim to complete a book, but to complete the story, which may be three books long. This will also help with the continuity since all the stopping and editing between books should be cut out. When I’m done, I’ll then think about how it should be divided up.

Then again, there’s always the possibility that this will just end up as one large book, which will have to be called Penny Royal… 

24 comments:

Paul Weimer said...

Well, if it goes very far you could always call it Penny Farthing...

(Or does that pun not work in British English? ;)

DrBMBridge said...

That just screams Three Book Penny Royal Omnibus Collection In A Nice Box With New Cover Art later on down the road.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

i'm all for the big paperback 3 in one. Hyperion suffered being the long shaggy dog story coming out first and then the followup a few years later (Fall of Hyperion).

plus, by the time this comes out you'll have 3 other books ready to jump into print. life's too short & your oeuvre is incredibly small compared to Heinlein & PKD for your age.... c'mon, it's true!

by the way: gristle barreled, gore nut, phronima.
http://youtu.be/xr0SyL0YilU

Neil said...

If you are in the groove, it's best to let it flow. Prune later.

Alpharius said...

No matter what is sounds as if we'll be getting a lot more in the Polity Galaxy out of good ol' Penny than we thought initially - so I'm quite happy!

Neal Asher said...

Yeah, that one does work, Paul (if you're talking about the bike of course).

DrBMBridge, I do look forward to seeing what Sullivan does with it - some pretty weird scenes in there.

I'm a bit wary of big books, Vaude. I find them a bugger to read - my trade paperback copy of Peter Hamilton's 'Naked God' nearly gave me a hernia.

My thoughts exactly, Neil.

Maybe a promotional thing for it, Alpharius. Sell it on Kindle for a penny ... nah, perhaps not.

Graeme. said...

I say let the story decide the format of the book(s).

Seems like you're really enjoying letting Penny's world develop so as Neil said, keep in the groove and go with it.

I reckon the story you end up with will dictate the format in which it should be published.

BarryA said...

Love big fat books myself.
(If they get too unwieldy you can always go the Charles Darwin route; when a text book he was consulting got too cumbersome he'd tear it it half down the spine. Problem solved.)

A trilogy? Penny Black, Penny Red, Penny Royal, though I'm dead sure you'll be asking more than a penny for your thoughts.

Antony said...

I am another lover of big fat Hamiltonesque books, and as you are one of the few authors I buy in Hardback (the others being Hamilton, Erikson and GRRM) the bigger the better!

Wet Baron said...

I dont think you can beat a big book which holds a great story. The Naked God is my idea of book heaven. Steven Erikson does a good long book but he has a tendency to waffle where as The Nights Dawn trilogy was all quality story.

That said now I have two young kids I don't get the chance to sit down and enjoy them. Only a quick 15 minutes before bed..

Neal Asher said...

Oh I enjoy big books - just the sheer quantity of writing (if it's any good) can thoroughly submerge me, as did Naked God - but I often find them unwieldy. I like to be able to hold a book up in one hand and not have to struggle to hold it open. A few hours with the Hamilton one, it being huge AND a trade paperback, made my wrist ache. Another problem with big books I've found is that they have more of a tendency to fall apart (My copy of Reality Dysfunction started to shed pages about halfway through).

Antony said...

I had the same problems with Hamilton's paperbacks falling apart, but I don't generally read my hardbacks, they are for the shelf. All my reading is done on the Kindle now, unless i'm going away and don't want to risk loosing it :)

Graeme. said...

The Kindle was MADE for going away in my view !!!
Anyway - thread hijack, sorry.

Antony said...

Well, in my younger days I would have taken it with me, I could get through quite a few books sat next to a pool. Nowadays with a young family I can barely manage 2 per holiday, and I don't have to worry about it getting wet either...

Back to the thread!

Olaf said...

Maybe a short story introducing the book/books sold for a penny on Amazon isn't a bad marketing trick.

Anyway glad to hear there is life in the ol' Polity yet.

Neal Asher said...

Antony, well, I'll be finding out as I load more and more on my Kindle. I've already got a few SF collections on there.

Certainly is, Graeme. Didn't much like the weight of my suitcase last year.

Olaf, that's an idea I'll bear in mind - won't be for some while yet, however.

Andrew said...

Hamilton was the reason I bought a kindle.

I really like epic space opera and am not worried about reading a massive tome.

Trying to lug them all round the UK in my rucksack whilst I visit various building sites was doing my back in. (The laptop and survey gear wasn't helping either).

Jezcentral said...

Alas, if you do this once, your purchasing public will expect you to do it next time, too. You will be condemning yourself to a career of writing doorstops. Is that what you want? IS IT?

On the plus side, you will be cutting your book tours by two thirds....

Neal Asher said...

Andrew, that's a good a reason as any to get one. I just wonder to myself if reading a book on kindle will satisfy my OCD 'read that done that put it to one side' inclination.

Jezcentral, no, it is nto a road I want to go down. I'm too paranoid about book bloat, which is often a danger for writers further on in their careers.

Laszlo said...

Oh Neal, book bloat?
I doubt you'd end up like one of those authors even if you tried.

But i gotta throw in my vote with the others for the "one big massive mutha" side. I think we'd all like that from you, especially in the Polity Universe.
Like with Simmons and Hamilton, there's always that feeling of delicious anticipation of one getting his/her money's worth.
That would be really cool from you, even if from a business point of view regarding your livelihood it makes more sense to break it up and sell in 2-3 volumes...

Graeme Finch said...

Big Book, split into three in one cover, like you can get copies of LOTR sometimes. One enormous fix of Polity, with the satisfaction of three stories... oooh frothing, I need a lie down.

Neal Asher said...

Of course there is another aspect to this. The reason given (not sure if I believe it) for The Line of Polity not being published in America was that it was too long...

Andrew said...

Their epic fantasy spans over 350k sometimes- look at Robert Jordan.

If you wanted to write a behemoth who would have the final say, you or the publisher?

Neal Asher said...

Andrew, fact is that fantasy sells better than SF so a writer would have a better chance of getting away with a 350k book if it was the former. Frankly I don't know what the reaction would be if I turned in an SF work of that size.