THE HEROES by Joe Abercrombie (Trade)Via Abercrombie’s blog:

So I’ve finished the first draft of the second part of my latest masterwork, workingly titled, ‘A Red Country,’ or possibly just, ‘Red Country,’ we will see on that score. For those who have failed to follow this blog religiously for the past few months (shame on you faithless scum), it is another semi-standalone set in the world of The First Law, and fusing fantasy elements with western elements, in the same way that The Heroes was a fantasy/war story and Best Served Cold fantasy/thriller-ish. That puts me about 40% of the way through a first draft, though I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of work to do once the first draft is complete. Isn’t there always? Now the terrifying wait for feedback from my editor and readers while I try and sort out what exactly I’m going to do with my next part. I guess one could say that if Part I was a little bit Searchers then Part II rolled into Lonesome Dove territory and Part III has something of a Deadwood/Fistful of Dollars motif.

I feel a fair bit more comfortable with this second part than I did with the first, as you’d expect or at least hope. One generally aims to get a better and better handle on the plot, settings and characters as one goes through a draft, until by the time you’re finishing your first draft you know pretty much exactly what you’re aiming at, and editing becomes largely a case of bringing earlier parts into line with that final one.

I’ve made quite a significant change to the personality of one of my two central characters – or perhaps not a change but a clarification, a shift of emphasis and a refinement of style – and he seems to be working quite a bit better now. In essence, I’ve made him a bit more of a shit than he was before, which tends to be a fruitful direction for me to go in with characters on the whole. Who knew?

It’s taken me a little longer to get this part together than I’d hoped, what with one thing and another, but if I can up the pace a little from here on in we should still be looking at delivery early next year and publication somewhere around late summer early autumn 2012. Such is the hope. But you know what they say about hopes.

Don’t make a parachute out of ’em.”

Abercrombie’s oft-rumoured, but never quite understood ‘western’ finally has a title to go along its bloody interesting sounding premise. I always love getting a look into Joe’s world as a writer. His efforts make his craft appear so effortless, but the comments quote above just go to show how much work goes into the novels. I mean, changing the personality of a character mid-way through a draft? That can’t be easy. And ‘more shit’? Has Abercrombie found deeper depths of human depravity from which to draw his characters? Can’t wait to find out!

  • Bets Davies August 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I’m always for any form of fusion fantasy. I’ve never been that up on my westerns other than, of course, classics such as The Magnificent Seven. Also, avid fan of Deadwood, but who isn’t?

    Making the character more of a shit–one of the most valuable things I learned in grad school, mostly from Victor Lavalle but also, oddly, in my memoir classes with Elmaz Abinader is that characters are more effective if they are at least to some extent shits. Who really empathizes with a saint, anyway?