I've never read or written anything like this book. After taking a day off and reading the manuscript so far I have to say there's no faster paced work of its size that my editor or I have ever seen. It kept her up until two in the morning three times and I didn't put the manuscript down for anything while I was reading it. I wrote the thing, I already know what happens but I was still glued to the pages.
I read through the manuscript so far because I wanted to make sure I was going in the right direction, that the three intertwining plotlines were all necessary and that there was no filler. What I realize now is that this book is divided into three very important acts and I'm just about to start on the third one.
As a writer quantity doesn't matter nearly as much as quality. I ask myself; is everything here important to the story? Characterization? Is it entertaining? If something doesn't make the grade it gets cut, it's that simple. So far Frontline has had about 37 pages cut (not included in the image above), and I'm keeping about 290 so far because that's what's required to tell the story this book contains. The thought of breaking the work up into two or more novellas crossed my mind, but sadly this work doesn't allow for that. You can feel when one act ends and another begins, but if I were to separate the book into different sections it would seem more like a frustrating money grab than an artistic choice, and even though I do this for a living (a job I absolutely love!), I don't like the idea of doing something solely for cash.
More about the progress of the book: I'm writing one large chapter or two or three short ones a day, six days a week to get this one finished. Research, planning, conceptualization and day to day business all happens around that. I have the third act almost entirely in mind and it feels like my brain is about to bust. I wish this novel were already a movie, I would love to see this broken up into six episodes of good television because when I think of this book the images start rolling and I can't type fast enough.
I haven't told a truly epic story for years, not since my foray into fantasy (Fate Cycle: Sins of the Past), and this book makes everything before it feel like nothing but build up. I am sorry it's taking longer to write this book than any other in the series, but from what I read in that manuscript and what I'm writing right now I can tell you that it'll be worth it. This is an Epic Space Opera, and even though it completely closes off one of the most important plot lines of the series (you know, the story that started at the end of Starfree Port), this book expands the universe, explores the characters and sets down a very solid foundation for so many books to come.
What's the tone of the third act of this book? I'll give you a hint; I've been listening to a lot of Danny Elfman (best known for soundtracks for movies like Night Breed, 90's Batman, Hellboy, Wanted, etc...). The more demented the soundtrack feels the better.
When do I expect to be finished? I hoped to be finished by the end of February, but I can't really tell. There's a lot of story left in this final act of the book and I'm afraid that quality demands that no completion date be set. The first two acts of this book were about 150 pages each, and took about a month each to complete (Christmas and a family matter added an extra month and a half to that). Most of the conceptualization and planning is finished though and that's the really good news.
Am I enjoying myself? Immensely! I honestly wish someone else had already written this and put it on the silver screen or television somewhere so I could just sit back and watch! That's not the case, however, so I have the rare honour of closing my eyes and adapting the movie as the reels roll on in my head.
Well, it's time for me to go back into the Fringe, to start work on the final act in this three act performance that is Spinward Fringe Frontline. Before I get lost in that universe, however, I need to thank everyone whose been buying the books, supporting me and spreading the word. Without you these books wouldn't be the same; I'd be writing around a full time job somewhere instead of making writing my main gig. Thank you for your help, as I said long ago the readers will determine if and when Spinward Fringe ends and so far (Triton sold it's 210th copy yesterday), the majority of my small but very kind audience seems to agree that Spinward Fringe shouldn't end anytime soon.