THE AGE ATOMIC update and the beauty of forward planning

Hey, that cool thing I said would be on the blog yesterday? It’s going to be next week. So you’re stuck with me instead, which means its time for a writerly update.

The Age Atomic, the sequel to Empire State, is progressing nicely – I’ve crossed 52,000 words, which is either halfway (yay!), a third-way (um, okay) or a quarter-way (dear God no) through the first draft. I’m aiming for about 120,000 words, because while I’ve always shot for 100,000 in the past, it turns out that 120k is about my natural novel word count – Empire State is about 117,000 I think, while Seven Wonders is a whopping 128,000.

The problem at the moment is that I’m at the stage where I’m convinced that the draft is going to be 200,000 words long. I’m pretty sure I’ve felt like that at some point on every novel I’ve written, so I’m kinda ignoring it. But at the back of my mind I do have this feeling that The Age Atomic is a little different – there are a boatload of characters in it, some from Empire State, some new ones, and there are at least six or seven major plot threads chugging along concurrently. That sounds like a lot – it is a lot! – but some of them are minor subplots to the two main story lines, it’s just that as I write them they tend to loom a little larger than when a reader will read them, if that makes sense.

Anyway, I’m not averse to writing a 200,000-word novel at all… except the longer the book, the longer its going to take to write, and the longer its going to take to edit, and the longer its going to take my beta-readers to read, and the longer its going to take my agent to edit, and the longer its going to take to rewrite, and… well, you get the picture. I’m writing this to a deadline, and while it seems like that deadline is a long way away, I’m not so sure I’ll be saying that so easily this time next month. Although I do have plenty of time – I’m currently trying to hit 20,000 words a week (five days a week at 2,000 words a day, and two days at 5,000 words), and I’m writing full time through August and September. July’s word count is going to be a little low, as we’re off on a family holiday to Europe and Ireland for nearly the entire month, but I hope I can still hit 1,000 words a day, most days while away.

Plus… there’s the slight issue of my editor at Angry Robot possibly having a mild heart attack if I handed in a 200,000 word novel. If he hasn’t had one already, reading this (hi, Lee!).

But I’m fine. I overwrite the first draft anyway, so even if it did get too long I’m sure a huge chunk would be removed anyway.

So that’s The Age Atomic. Once that is submitted later this year I need to switch to edits on Shadow’s Call for Tor, which I haven’t seen yet, although I already have a deadline for them – fortunately three months after the deadline for Angry Robot! And when that’s done, its on to the rewrite of Hang Wire, my fourth Angry Robot novel, the deadline for which is currently more than a year away. But I’ve got some pretty big changes I need to make to the main storyline, plus there’s a whole bunch of new stuff to add. While I’m a long way off even thinking about this book, I am looking forward to getting back into that world. Urban fantasy is fun!

I’m a big believer in forward planning – I think you have to be in this industry, which moves so very slowly. So once Hang Wire is done, I’ve got the two next projects ready to roll, which have the working titles Lucifer, and Dreamweapon. When I will start those, I have no idea… although if I can maintain this 20k-a-week work habit, maybe a whole lot sooner than I think.

But getting back to the present – this week I’ve got two secret projects to work on as well, neither of which may come to anything but both of which are worth putting the hours in. Strange as it seems (to me, anyway), I have met people who, when faced with an opportunity that only has a certain chance of being accepted, tend to put in only a certain percentage of effort. And then, in most cases, are surprised and annoyed when the project is indeed rejected.

You gotta do the work, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

Later this week I’ll be kicking off a competition to win the 10-CD audiobook of Empire State – the competition is going to be (I hope) a big one, and is tied to Seven Wonders. Stay tuned!