Thanksgiving is over, after which I had to respond to the usual deluge of work that piled up over the holiday. I'm finishing that up tonight and tomorrow, so if I haven't responded to your comment or email yet, fear not! It's coming!
One of those tasks that I've been working on is the November short story, which I'm trying to get finished and out tomorrow. Fingers crossed! It's in Cradle, because I wanted to use this opportunity to help me test out some ideas for Blackflame.
And speaking of which, the time has finally come to add one of the most-requested features to the site: a progress bar.
I haven't added one in the past, mostly because it's impossible to keep it accurate. An average week of work for me is chaotic, so a progress meter might go from 17% to 19% to 15% to ???%. Anything I put up will be an estimate by definition, because I don't know how long the book will end up or how hard it will be to get there.
Of Dawn and Darkness, for instance, took me way more work hours to complete than anticipated because it just ended up being harder to write.
Also, there are multiple phases in the writing process. I'd need to progress from 0-100% in planning, then go to word count, then editing, then the second draft, then editing again, and then usually final changes followed by release preparation. That's six phases, and they're very fluid; I go back from the first draft to planning many times.
Now that you know kind of how it works, I'm looking for your input! What should it look like? How and where should I display it? What information do you want to see when you check the site?
I saw one reader suggest marking progress in stages from Copper to Underlord, which was hilarious and appeals to me. But what do you want to see?
11/29/2016 09:03:19 pm
I like the Copper to Underlord idea, but one thing that always appealed to me is the last word written, be it "and" or "Elder."
12/2/2016 02:35:09 pm
But see, eventually the book would be published. And people would go "shellfish does not appear once in this book" and "genocidal appears before vigorously" and the pitchforks would come out. You don't want the pitchforks to come out do you?
12/1/2016 10:38:38 am
I love this! Both the last word written and the Copper- Underlord system fit perfectly for this.
11/29/2016 11:00:05 pm
I see no viable way to do a progress bar. I think progress reports would be more helpful. If you are going to do a progress bar, I wish you the rest of luck.
11/29/2016 11:33:46 pm
Foundation to Underlord!
11/30/2016 04:51:22 am
I think you should post it as a relation to the amount of sleep you are getting. The less sleep you get, the closer we are to a book! When you are getting 30 minutes a night, we know release is in a month!
A Siberian Squash
11/30/2016 11:03:36 pm
It's this thing that we try to keep the Elders doing.
11/30/2016 05:51:34 am
I would suggest something similar to the way Brandon Sanderson handles his progress bar. You indicate you have 6 phases. He has multiple phases in his as well and he updates the phase name as well as the percentage complete based on overall word count he plans on the book being. It doesn't have to be perfect and you don't have to update it daily or anything. It is nice to check in to see all the different things you are working on :). I'd prefer to see Unsouled/Copper/Iron/Jade/Low Gold/High Gold/True Gold/Underlord...Northstrider/etc.? I don't know, whoever is the strongest :P.
12/2/2016 02:38:20 pm
So does this mean your next story is going to be about an inhuman cyborg sent here from the future to write books?
12/9/2016 02:26:12 pm
I would most certainly read a book about a disciplined cyborg sent back in time to write books as a way to adjust the time line in minor ways.
12/11/2016 01:46:03 pm
That sounds like an awesome idea I hadn't even thought of why!
Wow, that's actually a really good idea. If he uses his knowledge of the future to write the correct books at the exact right time, he could influence people's thinking enough to have THEM change their OWN timeline, which could conceivably be a lot safer than directly changing it himself...
1/14/2017 11:24:11 pm
How does Brandon do the progress bar?
11/30/2016 08:18:32 am
Something simple like- Shooting an arrow at a target. That way the arrow can move back/forward fluidly.
11/30/2016 08:32:39 am
Congratz again on having a great month of November!
12/1/2016 03:39:10 pm
Or maybe have 6 progress bars all stacked for each phase.
11/30/2016 08:47:14 am
Well, i think that you should post progress based on how much of the plot you have written, at least in your opinion, since you would probably have the ending/most of the plot already planned prior to writing. If not, then disregard this post.
11/30/2016 09:23:16 am
I am with Craig. I like how Sanderson does it. He does pre-writing, rough draft 1 to however many he plans, and then final draft and puts a progress bar. That way if you get through rough draft 1, read it and know you need to rework a lot of stuff, you can meter out progress appropriately. I always walk away from his site feeling like I know roughly what to expect about release date. It is also exciting to see progress towards a book I want to read.
11/30/2016 04:57:53 pm
You fly by the seat of your pants, Sanderson by the seat of his plans!
11/30/2016 09:23:36 am
Definitely something by phases. I don't think percentages are as important as general landmarks to completion. But maybe phases relative to books you are working on. So Wood to Underlord for Cradle. Progress of chains to the total work for Traveler's Gate. Apprentice to Soul bound for Elder Empire. Or something like that!
11/30/2016 10:32:11 am
Just something along the lines of what stage you're on in the book would be fine by me. I definitely don't want to see a percentage bar. Percentage bars just tend to annoy me as they are generally meaningless. If you're installing a program and it jumps through 0-99% in a short while, but hangs at 99% for 10 minutes before it completes then it served no actual value.
11/30/2016 03:10:51 pm
Hey. That status update you just posted is still an improvement. Right now we get 100%. Baby steps Will.
11/30/2016 05:25:52 pm
Maybe instead of a percentage thing, you could give us a "Words Written" thing. Like after week 1 you would say 2000 words complete. Week 2 5000 words complete.... Week 18 270000 words complete. Something like that.
That would be difficult, because do I write total words written or words added to the book? If total words, then it's going to look like I'm done way before I am, since a lot of the words are either cut (deleted scenes) or didn't go in the book at all (extensive notes).
11/30/2016 07:19:51 pm
I feel like you are getting caught up with concept of progress bars, when you should really be focusing on chocolate bars. Or going to bars and having a drink to celebrate your successes (if you are that way inclined).
11/30/2016 10:27:59 pm
What about what phase it's in followed by a descriptor ie
11/30/2016 10:37:51 pm
When in doubt, follow the Sanderson...
12/1/2016 07:16:23 am
12/1/2016 05:53:32 am
Also like the idea of phases, use from Foundation to Underlord with a legend to explain them.
12/15/2016 07:46:19 am
Awesome - thanks for adding this. my thoughts would be a definition for each level
I mean literally I don't know where to put it on the page. Below "Amount Complete" and now the whole thing is really big and prominent. But if I put it below the blog archive, no one will ever see it. And if I put it on its own page, I can link to it, but then I have this random page on my site that is just a legend for the progress update.
12/1/2016 09:14:07 am
I'm glad you liked the power level ranking idea from the last blog post! I think people will be fine with whatever you do; as long as people are reassured that you're working towards the next book in some way, then every other detail is just icing on the proverbial cake.
Sorry about my lack of response, Ben! Not only have I been out of contact, but my email has also been filing every comment reply under "Junk."
12/1/2016 12:03:28 pm
So where is that short story? Im desperate for something to tide me over until Blackflame.
12/6/2016 08:39:45 pm
Did the November short story come out already?
Suppose you look back at works of the type you intend to write next. And you estimate how long it took to complete those works, on average. Duration might be estimated in whatever unit of time you like, say, weeks. You let us all know this next work is often a 26 week job. Post a start date. As you proceed, feel free to adjust and tell us a new estimated total. Like 26 weeks won't do it folks, it is more like 34. But keep a running public total of how many weeks have passed since the start date. All this can be done with a flexible progress bar, flexible due to the end date changing in line with your latest estimate. However you go with this, your fans will love info of any kind on what you are writing and how it is going.
I have that information, but I try to get better with each book. For instance, I know a book in the past has taken me about 800 hours, but only about 400 of that is straight-up writing; the rest is planning, editing, cover design, formatting, marketing, and the various other miscellaneous bits of work that go into getting a book out.
12/3/2016 12:41:35 am
A stylish trending gradient pie chart: 1. It accommodates the 6 sections of your writing process. 2. Each wedge trends toward the final color, thus not giving hard percentages but more flexible "ishiness", which also matches your style. (Colors could trend from brown-copper-iron-gold for example). When all 6 wedges are gold, you're done. Also, an ironish-goldish color communicating you're kinda 76-90%ish complete with a phase fits you. 3. If you keep the circular motif for your cover-art, you can use the blackflame cover design as your pie. 4. It's unique and not like, well, you know who's bar.
12/3/2016 07:31:41 am
I also like the bar thing. And even Sanderson is not perfectly perfect. He was 30% for months, jumed to 45 %, stayed there again for some time, then he jumed to 70%, after that ist was 97% and now Stormlight is on 99%. And that is totally fine by me. This system appears transparent and therefore the reader likes it. But it dosen't mean every percent has to appear at your homepage. Even Sanderson doesn't know if a book ist 30% or 33% I think. You define how fast you are and you don't have to make linear progress. You just put the bar were it feels right, and you leave it at that value for as long as you are unsure it is more. (so you don't pressure yourself too much)
12/8/2016 11:30:58 pm
Hey Lisa I'm doing my best here, cut me some slack!
If that were the real Patrick Rothfuss, I would be incredibly embarrassed. If you're reading this comment, Patrick, please don't read my books. Just...ignore them.
12/3/2016 08:20:56 am
Make a weasley clock from harry potter (http://tinyurl.com/hqnhyg3). The clock hands can point to editing, planning, drafting, etc. Instead of faces on the clock hands you can have approximate percentages of completion. I'm sure this idea wouldn't be confusing for people at all.
12/3/2016 05:37:29 pm
Hey Will, have you read "Dungeon Born"? I thought the ideas were so good/unique that they carried the novel through the garbage writing. Seriously, to think that "Dungeon Born" and "Slime Dungeon" are popular is crazy, because they tapped into a new niche.
12/3/2016 05:41:40 pm
...much like you did with the good english wuxia (I know there were some others, but they were also pretty bad).
12/3/2016 06:30:55 pm
Actually, I liked Dungeon Born. The plot was kinda funny and it was a new niche, but still decent. Plus it was Kindle Unlimited compatible.
12/3/2016 07:30:20 pm
Yeah, I liked it too, but the prose/banter was awful.
12/4/2016 10:02:28 am
Maybe this was a not-so-subtle request for Will's take on the "born as a dungeon core" genre, because he would be far and away the best writer to try his hand at the series. And if "Dungeon Born" can get 181 reviews at 4.7 stars in just 2 months, I'd like to see what Will can do.
181 reviews in two months with a positive average is really good; way to go, whoever-the-writer-is!
12/4/2016 04:15:12 pm
I didn't read ALL the comments, so chastise me if this has been said:
12/4/2016 06:22:41 pm
Maybe chains crawling up an image of the book like they would a valinhall traveler?
12/15/2016 09:04:51 pm
Maps...graphics...totally within the skill set of your fanbase! Trouble would be ensuring the individual was willing and able enough to be at your beck and call when you needed an update. So...fair enough; wish list item for some day further down the path 😀
12/4/2016 08:51:59 pm
The progress bar is a bad idea and will end up in pitchforks and badgers which means you need something like
Coffee table you bang your shin against.
12/6/2016 11:34:31 am
Has the short story been released? I joined the mailing list recently, so I'm not sure if it works.
12/6/2016 11:43:28 am
I think progress bars are largely dangerous. Sure they indicate progress but they also build up a frenzy and resentment when the bar isn't moving as fast as some might want (GRR Martin gave up on updating his blog, and who knows... maybe he's given up on ever completing his series). In the end, I'd argue you get the book out when it's ready and irregular/aperiodic updates like "I'm nearly done or halfway done" I think are fine.
I really am considering one more Simon novel in between Traveler's Gate and the new trilogy, so that the new trilogy can start without people having to read the first books. I don't want to keep promoting House of Blades forever, and you always promote the first book in your series.
12/11/2016 04:30:26 pm
So, no new blogs for 12 days. That either means he's been superfocused on his work (Yay!) or he's been superfocused on his work. We all know he doesn't sleep by now, so I would like to applaud his dedication to feeding our addition!
I was, in fact, superfocused on my work.
12/14/2016 12:09:01 pm
Can we get a progress bar on the progress bar? Are we at foundation or underlord? lol
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Hey, what about those short stories you claim to have already written?
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