The Divine Machine, Book 2 of the Black Iron Legacy, is en route through the aether to my editors at Orbit. It’s slightly longer than Book 1, and somewhat more complicated. Book 1 has five main viewpoint characters circling around a single overlapping goal, even if they don’t all agree on what they were trying to accomplish; The Divine Machine has three main viewpoint characters, each of whom has goals that intertwine with the others but aren’t precisely compatible or opposed. Oh, and all three are representatives of factions within the city, but all of them have reasons to distrust their faction and their secret alliances. And it takes place over the period of around three months, not the ten days of the first book.
I have spreadsheets. They are colour-coded. Still, they burn.
My process for this one went:
Rough outline of a few pages, describing the rough shape of the story.
First 15,000 words, to get a feel for the characters and language.
More detailed chapter-by-chapter breakdown, noting who was in each chapter and what happened there – only a line or two per chapter, usually.
First 50,000 words got sent off for review to ensure I wasn’t writing something unpublishable
Around 100,000 words, I broke out the spreadsheets to track time, and some mind-mapping to keep track of relationships and secrets between secondary characters. This quickly devolved into a horrendous knot of conspiracies and secret knowledge that took weeks to sort out. One character dies in Chapter 3, but the identity and motive of his killer changed four or five times as I worked out how the various conspiracies and plans interlocked.
Around 150,000 words, I stopped for another few weeks to go back and refactor bits of the novel – adding in support for reaching the conclusion, adding motivation to some of the weaker characters, aligning early takes on characters with how they acted in the end.
Most of the final 30,000 was just writing to the plan, but the last chapter was an unexpected addition that wasn’t in the outline, and just popped-out fully-formed. Writing by induction.
Now to see how it fares in the edit.
Rather tired now, but miles to go etc etc.