I’ve read it’s bad practice to blog about how the writing is going, but book 10, man. Seal of the Worm.

I had Air War and War Master’s Gate pretty well plotted beforehand – the process was quite tight, quite blow by blow. I tend to not set pen to paper (1) until I’ve got a good idea of the story’s shape and structure, otherwise the pacing goes to crap and I end up going down dead ends or over-weighting parts of the book that aren’t worth it. I think I’m basically an undisciplined writer at heart, and to cope with that I have to stand behind my own chair with a whip sometimes.

Book 10 is a little different. I think it’s a symptom of the long series (and as I’m talking about the long series in a few weeks at Eastercon I should probably spin out a few thoughts on it). Book 10 has a certain set of key scenes, the climax moments of the plot, that I’ve had in mind for years now, but the territory between them has been evolving in a fairly murky fashion as I’ve filled in the blanks of the earlier books. Even now, at past 1/3 of the way through the first draft, there are serious gaps in my knowledge about how major events will unfold – it’s all cross-country stuff without map or compass. The little notes I have for the plot are much more general that usual. (Not that I always stick to my original plans – in fact I don’t think I ever have, all the way. There’s always a better idea waiting in the wings.)

I’d thought this would seriously slow me, but the other thing I’ve found, joyfully, is that the plot is rushing me along – it feels like the same burst I tend to get right at the start of a project, when I can’t get the ideas down fast enough. In this case I think it’s that the whole 9 previous books are providing the impetus, the motive force to make things happen. The logic of the world and the plotline, that I’ve sweated and strained over, now has an answer to my questions. All the pieces are falling into place, but literally just as I need them, each grey area of plot coming to me as reach its page. Hopefully this will keep up throughout the rest of the book, or you may see a rather more despondent post here in a few weeks.

Writing a long series has had a lot of unexpected problems. Certainly, at around the time of Heirs of the Blade I hit a plotting crisis point where all the stuff that I was bringing with me from previous books hit the foreshadowing of all the stuff I knew I was going to bring in later, and started a three-way fight for space with the actual story I was trying to tell – meaning that I have never had to rewrite so much of a book as I did with that one, and not just once, either. There were some really nice bits that ended up on the cutting room floor, including a whole sequence where the lake-kinden from Blood of the Mantis came to reclaim Sef from Gaved, but you have to murder your darlings, and in the end it had to go (2).

But anyway, the long series thing is currently working for me. Book 10 is on track. Horrors await.

(1) or equivalent keyboard image

(2) There was less of this in book 6, but an entire scene in which Stenwold learns how the habitually solitary Medusoi reproduce, which was utterly crazy, did get cut.

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