Peephole In My Skull

The Core, First Draft Complete

Last Wednesday morning at 1:31am, I sent my publishers the complete first draft of The Core, the fifth and final book in the Demon Cycle series. It’s been a long time coming. For readers, the Demon Cycle began in 2008 (or 2009 in the US). That’s nine years. Quite a commitment, and for those of you who’ve stuck with me from the first publication, you have my heartfelt thanks.

But for me, the Demon Cycle began in another century. Back in 1999, I was taking a nighttime continuing education class in SF Creative Writing at NYU, taught by author Marvin Kaye. Being a pro writer was still just a fantasy, but I took my writing seriously and wanted to up my game.

One week, we were given a homework assignment to write the first chapter of a fantasy novel, and I wrote a short story about a boy named Arlen who could never travel more than half a day’s walk from his family farm, because he had to be back home before dark, when the demons rose. You can read that original story here.

Arlen always wondered what was over the next hill, half a day from his house. He and I began a journey with that 1600 word story, and now, 1.25 million words 18 years and later, I have completed it at last. If Arlen was a baby then, he would now be able to vote, go to war, or star in a porno.

I’ve been trying to gather my feelings about ending the series for this post, but it’s been difficult. Not only has the Demon Cycle consumed 18 years of my life, but it has utterly and irrevocably altered it, casting aside my old career and defining my new one, bringing to vivid reality my life-long dream of seeing my name on the spine of books in stores and libraries and private collections all over the world.

This career has brought with it more new friendships than I can count. The Drinklings crew, publishers, creators and readers. Artists I idolized as a kid now know my name and face and hang out with me at conventions. Hundreds of thousands of readers on six continents have bought over two million of my books in 25 languages. Writing these books has given me the closest thing I can think of to immortality in our world.

How do I convey the incredible sense of accomplishment and vast relief of reaching the end of such an incredible journey? How can I sum up the nagging doubts and humbling feelings of impostor syndrome I felt along the way—the pressure to stick the landing? How can I describe the gaping void completion threatens to leave in my heart?

I don’t know that I can.

All I can say is that I have immense gratitude for the people who believed in me back then. My friends and beta readers who encouraged me, especially Myke Cole, without whom I might never have done more than write as a hobby. My agent, Joshua Bilmes, who took more time than an agent would ever be expected to invest to develop me from an eager amateur into a professional writer. My publishers, who invested in me in hard cash. Lauren Greene, who has been there for both the successes and the hand-wringing. Cassandra, who keeps me grounded and grateful. And all of you.

Thank you so, so much.

The Core is due to be published in the US August 15, 2017. You can pre-order The Core here.

Audio and international pub dates will vary. It should be out on English audio and in the UK on or about the same date as US release. Translations will lag a bit, but international publishers are pretty eager to get it out for sale, so hopefully those of you who prefer to read in your native tongues won’t have too long a wait. As with previous books, we have two wholly different but equally stunning covers by Larry Rostant lined up, and will be revealing them soon.

Now, as always when I finish a book, it’s time for some fun with wordcount metrics.

The first draft of The Core is 288,212 words, which comes out to 1045 double-spaced pages in MSWord Times New Roman 12 point font with one inch borders.

The Core took 80 weeks (20 months) to write, averaging 4424 words a week, or 885 words a day, five days a week. A bit short of my goal of 5000 words a week/1000 words a day, but 2016 in particular was filled with distractions, and not just politics and celebrity death. More on that later.

By way of comparison:

Warded Man first draft stats: 7 years writing, 182,278 words, 650 pages.

Desert Spear first draft stats: 17 months writing, 231,331 words, 795 pages, 4890 avg words per week.

Daylight War first draft stats: 26 months writing, 242,965 words, 823 pages, 3095 avg words per week.

Skull Throne first draft stats: 16 months writing, 226, 318 words, 833 pages, 5148 avg words per week.

You may notice the math I gave on The Core adds up to more than 288K words. Indeed. I produced 353,912 words of material.

What happened to that other 66,000 words?

Approximately 52,000 words of that was stepsheet. I outline pretty heavily, mapping out the entire book before I start working on the prose. The other 14,000 words were deleted text. Sometimes I write lines, or even whole scenes and then hate them on reread the next day and cut them. There’s always some signal loss.

In the next draft, I will probably cut yet more things, and add others. Usually the word count goes up ~10%

I’m really pleased and proud with how the first draft has turned out. The Core ties up all the current storylines in the series, and no matter who your favorite character is, they will make an appearance in one way or another, and be awesome. That said, I’ve been working on the book for close to two years, and literally no one has read it but me. I believe in my heart that it’s good, but every author is full of doubts when they first show their work to others. For now, my agent, editors and a small handful of beta-readers are taking a first look at the manuscript. This inner circle will send edits in a few weeks, and I’ll get started on a second draft, but in the meantime I have a short respite to catch my breath.

This is good news, because it is my incredible pleasure to introduce the latest member of the team:

IMG_2478

Sirena Lilith Brett, born 12:59pm Thursday, January 26, 2017. 7lbs 4oz of pure, concentrated joy and weaponized levels of cute. Mommy Lauren and baby are making every day the perfect day.

Posted on January 31, 2017 at 2:00 pm by PeatB
Filed under Audiobook, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chinese, Craft, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Excisions, Fans, France, Germany, Hungary, Interviews, Italy, Life, Musings, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sales, Serbia, Taiwan, The Core, UK, Warded Man, Writing
16 Comments »

16 responses to “The Core, First Draft Complete”

  1. Very many congratulations to you, Lauren and Cassie. Sirena looks beautiful. ??

    Posted by Sue Armitage, on January 31st, 2017 at 2:09 pm
  2. congratulations on both the book and Sirena

    Posted by Matt Dearden, on January 31st, 2017 at 2:55 pm
  3. Dearest Peter,
    First, congrats on the new addition to your family. Children make it worthwhile growing old!
    And, second, thank you for the journey. The Demon Cycle has certainly enriched my taste for more Peter Brett. And, though I lost my fave Rojer late in the game I am still very committed to Arlen and Renna all the way to…the…end!!! Again, thank you and I can’t wait til August…

    Posted by Chris Cecutti, on January 31st, 2017 at 4:16 pm
  4. Congratulations on so many levels!! Congratulations to you and Lauren on becoming parents again and to Cassie on becoming a big sister. This post fills me with so much joy… and I can’t wait to read more about Kendall 😉

    Posted by Flying_Phoenix, on January 31st, 2017 at 5:18 pm
  5. I first started the Warded Man on audio and in the beginning thought, nah…..but the more I listened I became addicted. Now waiting impatiently on the conclusion. Thanks for a great read and congrats on your newest family member…..There is nothing like them…..Pure joy….

    Posted by Johnny Adair, on January 31st, 2017 at 8:04 pm
  6. Congratulations on your baby daughter. I just want to thank you for actually writing and completing each book in a timely fashion. I’m reading another fantasy author who has had people waiting going on 6 years.
    I will pre oder the 5th book shortly.
    Again thank you for being a man of action.

    Posted by Julie, on February 1st, 2017 at 8:41 pm
  7. Many congratulations; on the book and the baby! As for the first, I can’t wait to read it. We all wait, with bated breath, to see how things turn out for so many favorite characters. It’s always fantastic to see a writer break out. You’ve done so, spectacularly.

    Posted by Matthew, on February 2nd, 2017 at 11:46 pm
  8. Well done on a) finishing the first draft and b) adding another member to the Brett tribe!
    It’s a bit of a bummer that the series is coming to a close, but I’m so eager to get my mitts on a copy of that book, August can’t come sooner. At least I’ll have enough time to re-read the previous four books again, if that’s the only positive I can take from the next seven months of waiting… 😉

    Posted by Benn, on February 4th, 2017 at 7:56 am
  9. Congrats with the baby!! Hope she gives you a lot of joy!! Also I cannot wait to read the final book!!

    Posted by Remco de Louw, on February 18th, 2017 at 3:00 pm
  10. Congratulations on the beautiful bundle of joy!

    The demon cycle is my favourite fantasy series and i cant wait for the core to be released.

    You have created something amazing and should be proud of your achievement!

    Keep up the excellent work.

    Regards,

    David

    Posted by David, on March 2nd, 2017 at 11:12 pm
  11. Witam

    Na pocz?tek gratulacje dla Ciebie, Laury i Siren :). Pi?kny pocz?tek roku :).

    A teraz podzi?kowania za ca?y cykl który jak dla mnie jest najlepsz? powie?ci? fantasy jak? czyta?em.

    Ju? z niecierpliwo?ci? czekam a? krajowe wydawnictwa umo?liwi? zakup – na pewno nie omin? :).

    WIELKIE DZI?KI I CZEKAMY NA WI?CEJ 🙂
    pozdrawiam

    Posted by Pawe? POLSKA, on March 3rd, 2017 at 8:29 am
  12. Hello
    At the beginning CONGRATULATIONS to you, Laura, and Siren :). Beautiful start to the year :).
    And now, thanks for the cycle which for me is the best fantasy novel that I read.
    Already eagerly waiting until national publications will enable the purchase – certainly not miss :).
    THANKS AND WAITING FOR MORE ?
    Regards

    Posted by Pawel POLSKA, on March 3rd, 2017 at 8:33 am
  13. Fantastic news!
    Looking forward to The Core.
    And congratulation on the birth of Sirena.
    She happens to have the same birthday as I 🙂

    Posted by Jonas, on March 15th, 2017 at 4:57 pm
  14. It is all about the children and the love and patience they teach us, Congratulations. Now for my part, thank you for completing the Cycle. I have read and listened to the rest and rarely revisit books or movies, but…

    Posted by Charles Green, on April 17th, 2017 at 1:46 pm
  15. I am an audible junkie and probably go through a book every 3 weeks. I have read authors from Salvatore, Sanderson, Asimov, Card, and many many others. This is probably one of my favorite book series. I am both excited and saddened that the Core will be coming soon. I always look forward to your next books but I’m too sad to know this is the last one.

    Posted by Frank, on April 22nd, 2017 at 11:36 pm
  16. Love the bumble bees! Many congrats & gracious thanks for spreading joy & light

    Posted by Alistair, on April 24th, 2017 at 10:09 am