Book Three is now in the hands of my editors. The working title is eerily similar to one of the suggestions someone made here on this blog, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's not going to be the final title... so I'm keeping schtum until it's agreed.
So now the real work begins. There's much I want to change in this book: ideas and character threads I'd like to expand, but my deadline was very tight. Here's hoping I'll have the time now.
This time, I had strived for over 1000 words a day, which is a lot for me.
In theory, writing a thousand words a day should be a breeze. Ten words a minute is 600 words an hour. So 1000 words shouldn't take much more than an hour and a half.
Unfortunately it doesn't work like that. It's very easy to type 600 words an hour, or even three times that amount. But it isn't so easy to look at a blank screen and pluck those words from thin air, not if they're going to be part of a story. Harder still if they're going to be the final part of a tale that's already a quarter of a million words long and full of separate threads that need to be brought to a conclusion.
The words must create, or form part of, a scene, which needs to advance characters along a storyline, perhaps including entirely made up conversations between different people, each of whom should have an agenda, motivation, beliefs, a personal history, their own particular way of interacting with others and their own way of interpreting the world around them. The words must define these people in a way that moves the plot forward, while tying together those different threads, manoeuvring subplots so that they will meet in the future. And they should incorporate sights, colours, sounds, and smells, in order to let the reader experience the environment as much as possible.
In fantasy, the story is usually set in an unfamiliar world, because part of the joy of reading fantasy is to explore exotic places. But these made up realms must necessarily have enough structure, rules, consistency to make them acceptable to a reader. History, religion, geology, physics, weather, ecology, political structure. I use the word acceptable here rather than plausible. Fantasy is generally implausible, but that's ok if it's consistent enough to be acceptable.
So those thousand words have a lot to do.
Scan Night took me more than three years to write. Iron Angel took about half that time -- it was a complex tale. After I finally finished the proofs of UK and US versions, I was left with about four months to write Book Three.
I scratched my head. Several weeks to think up a story and plan it out roughly, followed by three months of hard work at the keyboard. That would work. If I wrote 1000 words a day, weekends included, I'd have a 90,000 word story. Not exactly the epic scale of fantasy I'd have liked, but I didn't have time to worry about it. Maybe there would be days I'd manage more than 1000 words.
There were days like that. But, sadly, there were days when I didn't reach my target. Snuffly, wrapped in a blanket with the flu days. Taking the car to the garage days. Driving to the nearest town for a big supermarket shop days. And dreaded blank screen days, just staring and staring at an empty page. As the deadline loomed 1000 words a day became 1500, then 2000. At that stage I spend every waking hour at the keyboard. But I typed the final page on the morning of my deadline and then went to sleep for a week. I haven't looked at the story since, because I want to go back to it fresh... when the real work begins.