Sunday, 27 July 2014

Update on THE WINDS OF WINTER

Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones may have suffered whiplash as two different sources offered pessimistic and then optimistic news on the progress of The Winds of Winter, the sixth and (planned-to-be) penultumate novel in the series.



First off, George R.R. Martin's UK editor Jane Johnson tweeted that The Winds of Winter was not on their schedule for 2015. This was taken by some to mean that the book was definitely not coming out next year. Johnson later clarified that the book was merely not scheduled at this time. Given the rapid turn-around on the previous novels (two months for A Storm of Swords, five for A Feast for Crows, three for A Dance with Dragons) this is not quite as bad as it first sounds, as those books weren't on the early schedules for their respective years either.


Then, at the San Diego Comic-Con, Martin himself offered some optimistic news. He confirmed he has not written a script for Season 5 of Game of Thrones and will not be undertaking any new set visits or other travelling obligations beyond those that he has already agreed to. This is all specifically designed to give him the maximum amount of time needed to finish The Winds of Winter. However, Martin would still not give a precise update on how much of the book he has completed at this time.

Whilst this sounds great, we should also recall that Martin skipped the 2007 Worldcon to finish A Dance with Dragons, and the book still took more than three years to come out after that point. It would seem unlikely that Winter is that amount of time away, but it is always best to exercise caution with any of this news.


Previously, on Winterwatch:

Martin completed the fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, in early 2011. Several complete chapters were removed from the novel and added to the start of The Winds of Winter. The amount of material is unclear, but seems to be a minimum of five or six chapters, totalling somewhere between 150 and 200 manuscript pages.

In February 2013 Martin delivered a further 168 manuscript pages to his American publisher. This would rise the completed total to around 318-368 manuscript pages. In April 2013 Martin said he had approximately one-quarter of the novel finished, and expected the novel to come in at around the same size as A Dance with Dragons, which was 1,520 manuscript pages. One quarter of that amount would equal approximately 380 manuscript pages, so this tracks pretty well.

Since April 2013 Martin has not offered any concrete information on his progress, instead preferring to make positive comments that he is writing fast and needs to stay ahead of the TV show. He has confirmed that he is doing far less rewriting on The Winds of Winter than the previous novel in the series, the constant editing and re-editing of which (particularly the knotty events in Meereen) was the principal reason for the delays to that volume. Although a cause for optimism, Martin has cautioned that the book is still incomplete, meaning that further rewrites cannot be ruled out for further down the line.

During the writing of previous novels in the series, Martin had offered more frequent updates on his progress, along with firmer figures on how many pages he had completed. In his parlance, "completed" means the pages in question have been written, re-written to his satisfaction and given at least an initial editing pass by his American editor. With Martin not having sent any further material to his editor since February 2013, he is possibly unwilling to put a hard figure to his progress. It may also be that with Dragons, the constant re-structuring of the novel meant that chapters and pages he declared completed and counted had to be rewritten again and again, meaning that the value of declaring them finished was dubious. For this reason, it may be that we won't start getting more precise figures on Winter's progress until the book is a lot closer to completion.

As for a release date, late 2015 would appear to still be possible but the door is starting to close on it. With Season 6 of Thrones likely to start drawing on Winter storylines and material, he really needs to release the novel before April 2016 to ensure the TV show does not overtake him. However, with the TV series currently projected to only last seven or eight seasons, he would not then have very much time to write the (currently) final novel in the series.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought he had two books yet to right, the one talked of here and another.

In any case none of that makes me optimistic for even a 2016 release, nevermind 2015.

If he's not reporting on his progress that most likely means there isn't very much.

Anonymous said...

Since the Sansa arc allready has passed ahead of the books, and Bran being minutes away from the same, I think Martin ideally needs to deliver the book in early 2015, too not fall behind.

Anonymous said...

The problem here is this - I want the man to finish the darn series, but i worry that given the glacial (get the winter themed pun) pace of the last 2 books there really needs to be another 3 to tie up loose ends and also not make the series too unbalanced. So bring on Winds of Winter, and then maybe the Thaw of Ice, and then the Dragons of Summer's Dawn as an 8th and final book????

Morgoth said...

Hiya, hiya ser Wert.
Morgoth is I, hailing from a place you may know: Is Winter Coming?
Much recognition you have there, o ser of the plastic light-guns fame, but I haven't come to mock thee.
There we don't censor. We don't ban. There are no witch hunts. No moderators who say it would be...unwise to have a different opinion. If you'd like to come and discuss with us about the neverending wait for the remaining ASOIAF books or the HBO show, you're more than welcome.
There's much fun to be had, extra turtles and also a smiley based on you -not something that anyone could boast about.
We expect your arrival with open arms. Don't take too long -George may decide to write faster and publish the books to spoil our fun.

Yours truly,
Ser Morgoth of the Pinball

iswintercoming.com

Mark Andrew Edwards said...

I don't think this will be the last book in the series. Judging my the velocity of the plot, I can't see him wrapping this up in less than two books.

One with the Others invading the South and one resolving the politics of Westeros.

Planting my flag here and saying 7 books minimum.

Adam Whitehead said...

Yes, there'll be seven books total in the series. To some extent that makes the discussion moot, as even if TWoW came out tomorrow, it would be highly debatable if A DREAM OF SPRING could make it out before the TV show ends in (optimistically) 2018. However, an earlier release for TWoW does kick that ball a bit further down the road.

In addition, GRRM did say some time ago that several of the series' biggest mysteries (including Jon's parentage) may be resolved in TWoW. Of all the questions in the books, that's probably the one people most want to read being resolved rather than watch.

Re: IWC. As I'm sure is well-known, I have always opposed the overt 'censoring' of dissenting opinion at Westeros.org. Alas, that fight was lost at the time, although since ADWD that stance has been more relaxed (hence the vigorous current discussion on Westeros about the latest news from Geroge). To be honest, even if I had the interest in joining up, I simply do not have the time and too many other former online haunts have had to be abandoned in favour of work and family life. I'm sure you will continue to have fun without me :)

Morgoth said...

@Wert: Thank you for answering, truly. That was a very classy response and I appreciate it.
Maybe next time!

Take care and have a good day,
-Morgoth.

Ghost said...

Yes, there will be seven books in total for the series but like Mark, I just don't see the story finishing there. I mean the White Walkers haven't even invaded yet! So I won't be surprised if they have a sequel to the series.

Unknown said...

Hello,

Here are a couple of observations about the possibility of a 2015 release:

1. Comparison to July 2010 – When looking at the July 31, 2010 Not a Blog one notices that a year before Dance was released he was actively trimming Dance and announced 100 pages already complete for Winds. I have no feeling he is anywhere near this progress on Winds and based on that I think the door has closed on a 2015 and is starting to shut on a 2016 release.

2. Writing Slower – GRRM had some interesting comments in an EW article recently “My early novels, I finished [in] a year each. This series, Ice and Fire, has taken longer than that. But lately I have been slowing down. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m getting older—it’s partly that, but I also think it’s partly that the series is so much more successful, that there comes demands that come with the success,” the author explained. “There’s the television show, which demands a certain amount of my attention; there’s all the other spinoff things, games… A writer’s work is not just limited to writing the books.” GRRM has effectively confirmed that he is writing slower and also spending less time writing now then he had prior to the TV series which also points to a later release date of 2016/2017.

I am interested in your comments. Thanks!

Jesse

Adam Whitehead said...

George's problem is not actually his writing speed, which has always been a convenient thing he can say in rapid interviews, as he's actually not THAT slow. Taking five years to write a novel five times the size of a 'normal' one is not exactly surprising, and he's surprisingly faster (in terms of final number of words produced versus time) than much younger authors like Bakker, Rowling (only just, and helped by how short her books were) and - okay, not so surprising - Rothfuss.

The problem is more one of the sheer size of the novels. I asked on Twitter if people would prefer a 210,000-word ASoIaF novel every three years to a 420,000-word one every six, even though you still end up in the exact same place, and the response was overwhelmingly in the positive. There are also structural issues: the lack of an outline when you are throwing in cool ideas to see what sticks is understandable, but less so two-thirds (we hope) of the way through a complex series, when you need to start drawing the disparate threads together.

Another point is GRRM's much greater prediliction for rewriting as he's gotten older. In post-ADWD interviews he acknowledged some growing perfectionism and carrying out rewrites because "Good enough," wasn't good enough for him (whilst perhaps it was on ASoS, which was written in half the time). On that basis, it'll be interesting to see if his current TWoW material (which has not been rewritten much at all, apparently) survives or if he reports having to rewrite it all several times over.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I've gotten so fed up with the unacceptable delays that I've not bought one of his books in years as a silent protest.

I'll just get it from the library when, or if, it ever comes out.

Unknown said...

I think one of the problems with many debates, including the one on GRRM, is sides not responding to points discussed and instead discussing the points in a debate they are comfortable delivering. In an effort to combat that I am going to address some the specific good points put out by Wert in his response and ask for him to rethink some previous points he overlooked from my original post.

1. “George's problem is not actually his writing speed, which has always been a convenient thing he can say in rapid interviews, as he's actually not THAT slow.” I agree with this statement, unfortunately I never said he was slow. I said, as well as GRRM said, he is “Slower” than he used to be. A corvette and be slower than it previously was and still be fast. GRRM could be writing fast now but not as fast as he once was.
2. “The problem is more one of the sheer size of the novels. I asked on Twitter if people would prefer a 210,000-word ASoIaF novel every three years to a 420,000-word one every six, even though you still end up in the exact same place, and the response was overwhelmingly in the positive.” The issue many folks on the other side would have is that if Twitter were around in 2000 and you had asked such a question then it would have been 210,000 every 1.5 years or 420,000 every 3 years. Something has changed in his writing speed since then. The rate for books 1-3 was 3 years a book. The rate for books 4-5 was 5.5 years. Book 6 is unfinished but if I was in Vegas I would be betting it is similar to the 5 year rate.
3. “Another point is GRRM's much greater prediliction for rewriting as he's gotten older.” Agreed, one of the reasons he has slowed down his production is his increased rate of rewriting. This is well documented in interviews and blog posts and makes sense as to why he might be slower. I don’t think there is just one thing though and think there are a number of factors, of which this is one.

I would ask Wert to reconsider these points that I made:

1. Is GRRM anywhere near in Winds where he was in Dance 1 year before publication? http://grrm.livejournal.com/169899.html 1332 pages complete? http://grrm.livejournal.com/217066.html Can we reasonably expect a 2015 release when he is roughly 1000 confirmed pages short of where he was in 2010, 1 year before the release of Dance?
2. Do you agree with GRRM that some of his outside concerns are contributing to the slowdown in output? He specifically calls out age, the tv show, the spinoffs (assume Hedge Knight, Lands book, World book, ect…), and his input on games. Do you agree with GRRM when he says this or is he wrong? http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/07/09/george-rr-martin-f-you/

I am interested in your thoughts. Thanks!

Jesse

Adam Whitehead said...

I would ask Wert to reconsider these points that I made:

"1. Is GRRM anywhere near in Winds where he was in Dance 1 year before publication?"

We don't know, as GRRM has failed to provide a hard page count. When and if he does, we can more properly assess progress.

"Can we reasonably expect a 2015 release when he is roughly 1000 confirmed pages short of where he was in 2010, 1 year before the release of Dance?"

If he was still at the 380-odd page count, then clearly not. However, since we don't know where he is, the question is impossible to answer. His publishers and GRRM himself have indicated it is possible, although they have both been wrong and over-optimistic before. I would say that 2015 is possible but increasingly unlikely.

"Do you agree with GRRM that some of his outside concerns are contributing to the slowdown in output? He specifically calls out age, the tv show, the spinoffs (assume Hedge Knight, Lands book, World book, ect…), and his input on games. Do you agree with GRRM when he says this or is he wrong?"

Absolutely this is and has been a problem on TWoW (apparently a much more minor one on the two books previous). Apparently most of the available writing time in the latter half of 2011 and a large chunk of 2012 was lost to other projects and writing tours etc. It's been much less of an issue since then, but that lost period may well have cost GRRM a similar amount of time lost to what the Meereenese Knot did for ADWD. Frustratingly, we again cannot assess that because of the lack of a firm page count for the book.

Jeffrey R. Hawboldt said...

Man, the Ice and Fire fans do not sound fans at all. What people need to realize is that George's books are about three times the size of a 'normal' book. That, and thanks to the HBO series, George is now a 'celebrity' author. OK, so he let you down in the past...fine. This is most likely the second last book in the series. So, with an end in sight it should be going easier and quicker for him. He's just not telling us, that's all. I am confident that we will have the book sometime in 2015.

Also, Ice and Fire is going to be the last series I follow 'live' - if something else catches my eye, I'll wait until the series is complete. I want the books as much as everyone else, I'm just not being a pessimistic jerk about it.