Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Weekly Writing Progress & Other Business #1

I'm writing the next book in The Alchemancer series. It's called The Nullification Engine and should be out soon. As a way to keep readers updated on my progress and also so I can gauge the same, each week I take a look at my current writing progress and report it here. Also, I discuss some other areas revolving around the business side of things.

Back when I was writing The Five Elements I posted weekly progress updates. At that time, it was mostly to keep myself motivated and so I knew when I was falling behind (or getting ahead). Those posts contained a lot of charts and graphs showing Total Word Count, % Complete, and Pages Edited/Remaining. I found value in seeing my progress graphically throughout the process. But I also found at times the numbers, such as word count, became more important than the writing itself. That's a hard one to explain, but I was putting more of an emphasis on being able to update the spreadsheet than focusing on the content of the writing. One sort of feeds the other, though, and in the end it all worked out. The novel was completed and I was able to move onto the next. Which brings me to where I'm at now.

Outline & Worldbuilding

The Nullification Engine is the second book in The Alchemancer series. I actually started the writing process on it last year. Since my writing process begins with a thorough outline, that's where most of my initial time was spent. Of course, along the way I also worked up character profiles, names and background info on places, geography, etc. The usual worldbuilding sorts of activities, in other words. You can see what I'm come up with so far on the World of Uhl site. I completed the outline and started writing the book. But as I got deeper into it I realized some parts of the plotting needed more work. I went back to the outline, revised, and got back to writing. I wrote about 150 pages when, again, I realized something was missing. More time was spent on the outline. This time, though, I had it.

As it is now, the outline for The Nullification Engine contains 30 chapters. At an estimated 20 pages per chapter and 250 words per page, the novel will come out somewhere around 150,000 total words.

Maps & Artwork

I've commissioned an illustrator to work on some maps not only for The Nullification Engine but also my other two novels. More on this later. For now, I'll just say that The Nullification Engine takes place entirely in one city. This was the #1 rule I intended to adhere to for my next novel. The city map should be very detailed and very cool. (So should the others.)

I'll also be commissioning a designer to work on the book cover. Most likely I'll go with Derek Murphy of, who worked on the cover for The Five Elements.

Writing Progress

With the outline really complete this time, I got back to writing. Almost immediately life got in the way. Long story short, I started a new job which was requiring all of my time. Now, however, things have settled down and I'm back to a regular writing schedule. Thing is, the outline had been refined to the point where the existing 150 pages wasn't quite in the right order or even relevant in some cases. So, it was back to page 1.

Using one week ago as my zero starting point, here then is my current state of progress:

Date Current Word
% Complete
12/1/2012 0 150,000 0.00%
12/8/2012 20,019 129,981 15.40%

It doesn't make a lot of sense going from no words to 20,019 since I wrote far less than that in the past week, but that's how it is. Given the word count I'd reached previously, and considering some of that content will be incorporated into this new revision, the word count could jump significantly in the short term. With that content included, I'm about 45% done with the novel.

The Word Count charts looks like this:


% Progress looks like this:


I think that does it for this time. I'll continue to make writing updates each Saturday as part of my blogging every day initiative. Future updates will not be this long, either. I'll keep them short so I can get back to actually making some progress on the novel.

Writing Update #33

It's been a long while since I've posted anything that only focused on my writing progress. For a while there, I had committed to posting every week. I was using this as a way to hold myself accountable for getting some writing in on a regular basis. The reason I stopped was exactly what I worried about from the start: just doing the weekly posts became a chore unto itself. No reason I can't make a post every once in a while, though, and so here we go.

I'm still working on my second novel. Most of it is done, but I need to go back and smooth out some rough edges and consolidate the ending as I think it's too long right now. I actually set it aside for a little bit about a month ago while I shift gears to some shorter work. From that effort, I posted Fine Wine, a short story about an assassin who makes a deal, in my short fiction section. From that story emerged another, longer tale, about the same assassin who is hired for a particularly unusual job. It's called Killing the Dead, and is out to Realms of Fantasy right now. If that doesn't work, there are other top level magazines (top level being defined as those that have the highest pay rates) it will go to next and then to the lower paying markets and then possibly to the free markets. Worst case, I'll post it here.

There's something satisfying about working on a piece that is small and finite. Novels take a long time to write, with little or no reward waiting at the end. Short stories have the potential to bring satisfaction much quicker and with greater frequency. So, I'm exploring those markets now with the intention of getting a credit or two.

It's a little known fact that I do actually have one publishing credit to my name. It was so long ago I sometimes forget about it myself. I was about twenty (I'm 39 now), it was the first piece I'd ever submitted, and I made a very small amount of money off it. I actually still have the check; I never cashed it. The story itself is bad, bad, bad. I have a hard time even looking at it now, but there are few writers who don't look back on their early work and shudder.

So, that's it. I have another idea brewing for my "assassin with no name" character, as well as some initial background information that may leak little by little into each subsequent tale I spin about him. I'm having fun writing about him, especially with the shorter form; it has none of the "drudgery" of the longer one.

Writing Update #29

A weekly progress report as I work through the (second pass) editing of my current fantasy novel.

Decent writing progress to report. I hit page 272 out of 368, which is a net gain of 14 pages over last week. I added 2 additional pages of new material—really 3—but with some other edits the end result was that the novel's length went from 366 total pages to 368.

Weeks left: 5.4. That's awesome. That means in just over a month I should be finished with this edit. The operative word is should. We'll see how it goes.

Here's some graphical progress:


Total word count remained steady:


Percentage completion is now at 74%:


That's it for this time. Hope I have some more good progress to report next week.

Writing Update #28

A weekly progress report as I work through the (second pass) editing of my current fantasy novel.

Very good progress this past week. Overall, I'm up 36 pages, from last time's 220 to 256. I added 1 additional page, bringing the current total page count to 366.

The graph:


You can see that the total page count dipped and leveled off, but has now been steadily (and slowly) rising. Total word count actually went down by 37 this past week to 106,845:


I expect there to be maybe one more bump in word count—there's a new scene I feel I need to add to give the reader some more context on one of the main characters, plus it will allow me to utilize my witch character again (I love witches). Then, a gradual lessening as I continue to pare down sentences of unneeded words and such.

Percentage-wise, I hit 70% completion:


Couple of other stats I've been keeping: "average pages edited per week" and "weeks remaining". The first of those is at 18.13 pages/week. The second, 6.07 weeks remaining. 6 more weeks and I should be done with this pass. Things are really fitting together nicely. I'm looking forward to the next edit, which I've no doubt will go a lot faster once all the pieces are in place at the completion of this edit.

Writing Update #27

A weekly progress report as I work through the (second pass) editing of my current fantasy novel.

So-so progress this past week. I'm now on page 220 of 365. That's up from last week's 213 and 359, respectively. That leaves me with 145 pages to go. I only cranked out 1,636 words for the week, so from that perspective I didn't do so good. But, I did complete a scene that I had left a "to do" behind on during the first edit, and I'm mostly pleased with the way it turned out.

Total word count went from 105,246 to 106,882, which means I've been creeping back towards that magical 110,000 number. Here's the chart:


Percentage complete has kind of flattened out of late:



I figure about 8.6 weeks left at my current pace, which I think is up a bit from last week. However, now that I'm back into editing instead of writing new material I should be able to get that number moving down again.

That's it. Good writing to those who do that sort of thing.