Hawk: Progress Report

The book is going slow.

It’s kind of interesting; the last time a book felt it was moving this slowly was Athyra, which I referred to as “that-goddamn-fucking-book-from-Hell.”  In the end, I was pretty happy with it, but it was painfully frustrating at points.  This one feels different.  It isn’t frustrating, it’s just…slow.  I’m grinding my way toward the end of chapter 5, and I feel like I’ve been there forever.  But I make a bit of progress every day (at least, when possible given friends’ drama, my own medical crap, and my sister’s hospital stay).

I think part of it is that I’m experimenting–not with voice, or with structure, but with approach.  This is the first time in a long time I’ve found myself forced to concentrate on plot in the first draft.  I’m trying some stuff that, if it works, I’m going to really like; but it requires figuring out a lot of plot details early on.  Usually, these are the kinds of details I let write themselves for the first draft, then go back in the rewrites to make them all make sense and feel natural and inevitable.  This one just won’t work that way.

So, short version: this one will be awhile in the cooking.  I really hope it ends up worth it.  I know I’m feeling challenged by it, and I like that feeling.


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0 thoughts on “Hawk: Progress Report”

  1. How, you pretend that this writing thing is work? And here I thought is was all kittens and rainbows…

    It is truly (to me) one of the marvels of the internet age to be able to hear my favorite writer thinking out loud, as it were, about the process of writing a book I so look forward to someday reading.

    Thanks for keeping it up in spite of everything.

    Hopefully, in the end, you shall have enjoyed preparing the meal as much as we shall, no doubt, enjoy eating it.

  2. Yea it makes sense its going slow.

    Hawk right…

    There are dangers in eyesight too keen.


  3. Thank you for this update! I’m fascinated by the process an authour goes through in writing a book, and the glimpse into how you work is a treat.

    Have always found that one of the things I value in your books is that you seem to find some way to challenge yourself in new ways as an authour each time you write. I look forward to seeing what Hawk will bring.

    Good luck this week, by the way, with your cyborgification. Wishing you wellness.

  4. I got a hankerin’ (yes) the other day to reread all the Vlad books. It happens every year or three, and I’ve learned to go with it. I prefer published order, when this hankerin’ (yes!) is upon me.

    I tell all that just to say I finished Phoenix and cracked Athyra open pretty much as I loaded this page. So it felt all prophetic that this entry mentioned it.

    I’m excited to see what this experimental approach will be. And it is great to get these updates. Makes the waiting for more Vlad Tales all the more exciting.

  5. Neil Gaiman, quoting Gene Wolfe:
    “I wondered what I’d learned, and found myself remembering something Gene Wolfe had told me, six months earlier. “You never learn how to write a novel,” he said. “You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.” “

  6. Laurie@3- If you find the writing process of authors fascinating, then you would probably love Steven King’s “On Writing”. I haven’t actually read it yet, but several of my friends have raved about it.

  7. Not an action-based book this time, then. Nice thing about the Taltos series is that it doesn’t fit into a single genre.

  8. Yay! I’m glad you’re feeling challenged. If you weren’t, you’d get bored, and I’d (we’d) get no more Vlad books, and that would be the sad…

    I know you, you like a writing challenge. Just beat that boy down. I believe in you! (I guess I’d have to, considering…)

  9. Steven, I just heard about your upcoming surgery. I wish you well and hope you continue writing a few hundred miles of more stories. Rest up, get well, think hard and live long and prosper.

  10. There is nothing i’m awaiting more than ‘Hawk’. My 12 year old son, who has read most of the series, agrees. He’s constantly saying, “Shut up, Looish!” to me when i tease him…

    There is no modern author whose work i enjoy as much as yours, and the only other authors whom i read as often are Herbert and Tolkien. My best wishes for health, happiness, and fulfilling revising.

  11. Exciting and intriguing report from the front line. Makes me want to read Tiassa again.

    Forgive the hijack but, inspired by Tzalaran’s comment about his boy, what age is appropriate for a reader to begin the Vlad series? I’ve been wanting to lend them to my friend’s 11 year old son ever since I saw him playing Assassin’s Creed last year. He is an avid reader and, judging by the books he’s lent me, he has the reading maturity neccessary but I’d like some input on, I dunno, the emotional maturity required.

    I should add that I was delving into all kinds of adult SF by the time I was his age due to having an older brother and incurious parents. The only thing that really shocked me was Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and his Dog” but then Delany didn’t write Dhalgren til I was 18.

  12. I dunno. Depending on the kid, anywhere from 11 to 15 seems a reasonable age to start.

  13. I’m thinking it might take a bit of the pressure off from the fans what with having GRRM out there in the spotlight playing the “Great Bearded Glacier” and all. Any regular delays in the creative process in the rest of the genre writers just pale by comparison.
    On the other hand, as Heinlein said, a writer needs no more encouragement to write faster than the daily delivery of bills.
    So, all in all, never mind.

  14. This is actually really promising, and highlights something I love about your work: you never just mail it in. It would have been easy (but I suspect unsatisfying) to just fall into a formulaic rut. But you don’t – your books are each distinctly their own, and that’s becoming more pronounced the more you write, and I like it.

    Just re-reading Tiassa. Lots of little gems in that. I want to re-read Dzur, but that one I can’t get through without a well-stocked larder. I’m rambling now. Upshot is I look forward to discovering what flavor of book Hawk turns out to be. Take the time it takes to satisfy yourself that it’s done. I think at this stage you can trust your judgement.

  15. Steve, since you responded to a question on the 23rd can we assume the surgery went well?

  16. It makes a lot of sense that you’re paying special attention to structure in Hawk…

  17. Lou: Thanks. Tell your wife it’s not impossible that’ll happen, but don’t count on it.

  18. I have nothing clever to say beyond, “Thanks for all the happy hours. Best wishes with the surgery I just learned about. Hope you’re enjoying practicing your craft as much as I enjoy reading the products.”

  19. I didn’t know of any other place to post this question, so I settled for a recent writing-related topic. Don’t mean to highjack the thread, but. . . that might happen. Sorry in advance.

    I have recently read “On Writing” by Steven King and the process of ‘discovering’ a story that he describes is interesting. He starts with an interesting situation that he believes has a good story to it, then proceeds organically from there with little or no planning. In the second draft things like themes and motifs are noticed and emphasized. But Mr. King highly advises against building fiction works around plot. At least not to start.

    To be frank, I don’t like this because my favorite part of writing (though I have yet to experience several crucial aspects of the process) is the creation of the world setting, history, races, world politics, the rules of magic, ect. It’s the joy of escaping into a fantasy world, but instead of reading someone else’s story I’m creating my own. This forms the plot and character arcs quickly and, I believe, in a substantial manner.

    This is very difficult to reconcile with Mr. King’s view. However, I have noticed that I lack the feel of “this is really how things would happen” because when I get down to brass tacks and actually write I’m playing to the plot. Mr. king would say that the ‘story’ I’m trying to tell is in the situation that was the inspiration for the whole thing, not he sequence of events that happen before and after, and I should be ‘playing’ to that.

    The problem is, I don’t have a situation like that. I do have things that I notice in real life that I think are too unique to not include somewhere and build kernels of story around (I have a substantial list now, life is an interesting thing), but that’s not the main focus of the story. They are spices that readers will pick up on and find familiar, but changed from being filtered through my view on it instead of their’s.

    And of course there is the assertion that King makes about how what he writes is opinion, and that people should write any way they damn well please as long as it does, indeed, please them. My problem is that while it certainly pleases me to have a multi-book fantasy epic laid out in front of me, it would please me a whole lot more if I had more pages of story for a single book than I do pages of notes on the plot, characters, world, magic, ect of an as yet non-existent series.

    So my question is, Mr. Brust, how do you write? I understand if that is a bit too personal, so if you don’t feel like answering that than of the two approaches presented here, organic ‘situational’ and fabricated ‘plot-driven,’ which do you think is, for lack of a more appropriate word, better?

    P.S. Saw your tweet. I was indeed holding my breath in anticipation about your cold. :) Hope you feel better soon.

  20. I agree with Mr. King insofar as he says you have to figure out what works for you. My favorite way to write is to start with a really cool opening sentence and see where it takes me. I’ve written some books that way. I’ve also written some with really extensive, detailed plot outlines. Usually, they fall somewhere in the middle.

    There’s no other way to say it: You have to figure out how you produce your best work. Will say this much: All things being equal, if you can find a way to have fun, that’s best.

    Best of luck to you.

  21. Take your time with Hawk. Every single Brust novel I have ever read ever since discovering Jhereg back in ’92 has been worth waiting for. Every damn second.

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