Before you ask, it ain’t done yet. So, from his Not a Blog:

I’ve left the Isle of Cedars behind, at least. 1261 pages and counting.

The timeline of this monster is going to drive me mad. I know perfectly well that as soon as DANCE is published, some of you out there are going to attempt to correlate its chronology with that of A FEAST FOR CROWS, fit all the parts together to suggest an appropriate chapter order for a (hypothetical, and largely impossible) combined book, something like what the “Big Feast” might have been, before the split.

Well, good luck with that. I’m glad you’re doing it, not me. With all these characters scattered over my entire world, some chapters that span hours and others many months, various journeys and voyages to account for, not to mention the demands of the dramatic chronology, an entirely different matter than the literal chronology… well, it may well make your head explode. It did mine. The DANCE timeline alone is a bitch and a half.

Just musing aloud here, so don’t anyone get all hysterical… but depending on how long the book comes out, moving some of these finished chapters into WINDS OF WINTER may make sense. Structurally you could make a good case for making DANCE a perfect parallel to FEAST; different cast of characters, but exactly the same time frame, so both books end on the same approximate date. Then WINDS could pick up the action for both sets of characters the following day.

That’s not the way I have been doing it, however. As written, I’ve covered the FEAST time frame in the first 800 pages (manuscript pages, the printed book pages will be different) of DANCE. Everything that follows is post-FEAST, so that’s where some of the cast from the last book start popping up again. Not the most elegant structure, I admit… but given how late this one is, I wanted to resolve at least a few of the cliffhangers from FEAST… (if only to set up the new cliffhangers). So…

These are the kinds of things I grapple with. No comments necessary, really. I am not looking for advice, and in fact I seldom talk about such issues precisely to AVOID unsolicited advice. These sorts of things are best resolved by me and my muse, sometimes assisted by my editors. Just felt like rambling a little.

Anyway, there we are. Back to the grindstone tomorrow.

It’s nice to get such a candid look into the struggles and process behind Martin’s work. I know readers are divided on whether or not they like these cockteases from Martin, but I’ve always appreciated them. It’s also interesting to see his commentary on his fanbase. I remember people talking about combining A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons into one giant novel before A Feast for Crows was even out. I expect many bricks will be shat at the suggestion that some of this material may move to The Winds of Winter.

Most interesting is that Martin apparently wants to tie up some of the cliffhangers from A Feast for Crows as a bit of a peace offering to his readers. I can think of one POV in particular that has been left, erm… hanging.

  • Shawn Speakman February 15, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    That is really fascinating. Just purely from the point of view that when DANCE is published, people will be getting more of the series story than they thought they would. If 800 manuscript pages wraps up what was begun in FEAST, then right now there are an additional 400+ pages that they didn’t know they would be getting.

    I’m curious how much Anne is involved in deciding what stays and what will be pushed forward into WINDS. Guess I should send her an interview tomorrow and find out!

  • Joe Sherry February 16, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Martin’s in a no win situation regarding disclosure. If he says nothing, people will be frustrated because “how hard is it to just drop a quite progress report” and they see Wild Cards and Warriors and Songs of Dying Earth seeing publication with no new Ice and Fire.

    If he posts the above, people will start thinking they are owed constant updates and may begin to get their hopes tied to a particular completion date that may have nothing to do with when George will be satisfied with the final book.

    I’m happy that he is posting updates and am quite content to wait for the man to be satisfied.

  • Peter V. Brett February 16, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I started to comment on this, but then decided to do a post on my own blog instead:

  • aidan February 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for the commentary, Peter. I’d be curious to hear where you think a post like this lies in your spectrum of blogosphere responses. Would it be better for a blog like this to leave the comments from GRRM alone, and let his Not a Blog speak for itself, or is commentary, no matter the tone, a good thing?

  • Jonathan February 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Can you imagine trying to write a novel 2-3 times longer than most with so many viewpoints and story lines, regardless of the time you had to do it? I suppose I can imagine it, but I don’t have the stones to go ahead and try it. GRRM always opens himself up to rabid, angry fans every time he throws out an update, yet he still does it. I appreciate the hell out of it.

  • Peter V. Brett February 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t think there was anything wrong with this post, though I don’t know that much in the way of commentary was offered, either.

    I think “cocktease” might have been a low blow. It’s always a fun word to use, but I don’t think that was Martin’s intention at all.

    It was a handy post for me, though, as I only check Not a Blog once in a blue moon these days, and might not have noticed that post until long after it ceased to be topical.

  • aidan February 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Cool. Your last comment is essentially my purpose with these posts. I know not everyone reads Not a Blog, so I like to pull out some of the juicy updates so let me know what’s going on. Like you, until the book’s done, I’m not really interested in endlessly debating each of the updates, but I don’t want to just regurgitate the post without any worthwhile content attached, so I have a bit of fun with my commentary.