Monday, April 24, 2006

Rollback done!

Today, Monday, April 24, 2006, I finished final revisions on my seventeenth novel, Rollback. I started the book on Monday, May 16, 2005 (just shy of one year ago), and did a total of six drafts. Unusually for me, the book got shorter as time went on -- I cut 10,000 words while preparing the fourth draft.
  • First draft Friday, November 18, 2005: 93,857 words
  • Second draft Monday, November 28, 2005: 94,823 words
  • Third draft Wednesday, December 14, 2005: 94,668 words
  • Fourth draft Monday, January 16, 2006: 84,678 words
  • Fifth draft Sunday, February 26, 2006: 83,858 words
  • Sixth draft Monday, April 24, 2006: 84,007 words

Analog will serialize the whole novel starting in its October 2006 issue (on sale August 1st), and Tor will publish the book in hardcover in eleven months' time (the official pub date is April 1, 2007).

As I said, Rollback is my 17th novel. In additon, I've edited four anthologies and done three collections of my shorter work (the third of which will be published next year), so this means I've now finished my 24th book.


At April 25, 2006 8:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Idiotic question.
What do you consider a draft?
Since you went from 1st to 2nd in just ten days, I can't imagine that was a full "stick-draft-one-in-a-drawer-and-write-two" sort of draft. I've been encouraged by at least one story editor to do that with scripts. But I don't think it would work as well with a novel.


At April 25, 2006 8:50 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Yeah, "drafts" are tricky to define in the word-processing era. For me, the first draft is done when I've got all the scenes I initially think I need for the novel written and in rough sequence.

Subsequent drafts are actually printed out, and read through by at least one person who isn't me, so that I get feedback (for the first draft, it was just two people; for the second draft, it was 13 people; for the third draft, just my wife and editor; for the fourth draft, six new beta-testers; for the fifth draft, my editor at Tor again, plus the editor of ANALOG). At the very least, a draft represents a full top-down edit, but often there's much more work to be done, and I do it.

I'm very slow at doing the first draft, but I'm a speed-demon once I've actually got material to work with. Ten days is an enormous amount of time (eighty hours at the keyboard, more or less), and a lot of good work can be done in that amount of time.

At April 25, 2006 9:43 AM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

I can barely get in 10k a week. But then again I'm struggling with diabeties, scoliosis, an eye floater that bugs the heck out of me, a job I hate a wife I love pushing 55. All things considering I can still get a 100k draft done in 10 weeks.
Your last blog entry suggests anything but being slow.
Like the first poster above I also have a question and I don't mean to pry but how many words did Mindscan come in at?

I just finnished the book. Really enjoyed it. Not enough first person novels done these days.

e. Jim

At April 25, 2006 9:50 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

And MINDSCAN has TWO first-persons for the price of one! :)

MINDSCAN is 104,000 words long.



At April 25, 2006 6:29 PM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...


I haven't had the good fortune yet to attend any of your writing classes. I'm really week on writing scene and sequel. Do you have any articles on your site about this?

My recent first draft came in at just around 85,000 words. I edited and rewrote cut the crap out of it and when I found out about scene and sequel. I realized I'm going to have to rewrite the whole book over again. I'm okay with this but am left wondering about the structure of scenes.

Care to offer any quick advice?



At April 25, 2006 6:36 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, e.jim. I haven't addressed the process of constructing scenes on my website, but my advice is that structure is hugely important (in fact, one of the biggest changes I made between drafts 5 and 6 in ROLLBACK was structural -- moving stuff around so that the sequence worked better). It doesn't hurt to sit down and ask yourself exactly how the parts interrelate; I did that for my novel FRAMESHIFT here.

At April 25, 2006 9:16 PM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

Thankyou for the generous reply.

I don't think I have too much difficulty with story structure as I use the 3 act play format. It's more structure with scenes and how they are laid out I have trouble with. I.e. scene and sequel as in Swain's, which I need to get a copy of. I've seen other SF authors use the scene sequel technique



At April 27, 2006 3:05 AM , Blogger Ryan Oakley said...


My drafts always get shorter. I love to cut and rewriting in general.

At April 28, 2006 2:22 PM , Blogger cbcworkerbee said...

Looking forward to it, Rob. Congrats on finishing it.


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