A Memory of Light Progress Bar FAQ
A lot of people have had questions about what these percentage bars mean in relation to the final books of the Wheel of Time.
With the announcement of the books being split, I've decided to split off the percentage bars, since it will give people a much better view of what is happening. Therefore, "Shifting Winds" was the working title of the second book of the three-book cycle. Originally, I intended this title to be a sub-title beneath the larger title of A MEMORY OF LIGHT. It was meant to be unobtrusive. Now, the books are each going to carry their own titles, and so Shifting Winds just doesn't work. This title has now changed to TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT. For an explanation, read this blog post. (The third book of the three will be given the title A MEMORY OF LIGHT.)
I anticipate TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT being around 300k words long. 1%, then, equals 3,000 words. (For reference, 300k words was about the length of EYE OF THE WORLD.)
Though I've got a large chunk of the book done already, it's going to be slow going because of the amount of revision I'm going to need to do. These sections are among the roughest I wrote last year, and I need to work on them a lot. I'm shooting for December as a goal to have the entire book completed.
Below here, find the original FAQ I posted about AMOL before the split. It no longer applies, but is left for archival purposes.
Well, first let me explain what the percentage bars mean to me. When I start a book, I generally have a feeling for how long it will be, by wordcount. A lot of my epic fantasy novels end up at around 200k words. My young adult and middle grade novels are much shorter, around 50k for an Alcatraz book or 80-90k words for a young adult book.
When I start a book, I create a progress bar that is a guess based on the projected length of the book. Usually, this guess is on the short side. For instance, Mistborn 2 was 250k words—so using a progress bar on a 200k scale meant that when I hit 100%, I wasn't actually done. Recently, I've begun letting the percentage bar go over 100% to indicate this.
A Memory of Light is a different kind of book. I've never worked on something like it before, and it's just massively, massively huge. When I created the progress bar for it, I had no idea where I should set the length. I was tempted to use 200k, since I'd used it so often in the past, but as I began planning the book I knew that it would easily be twice that length.
So I initially set the progress bar at 400k. Every time I finish 4,000 words of new writing, then, I add 1% to the progress bar. When it read 100%, though, that didn't mean I was done. It meant I'd hit 400,000 words—the longest any Wheel of Time book has been in the past.
Currently, I estimate the book will end up at around 700k words. (Maybe as long as 750k, maybe as short as 650k.) So I'm just going to keep adding percentage points to the bar above 100% until I hit the end. I'll make sure to give a blog post so that you know when we hit DONE done.
You may also see different progress bars that show revisions I'm doing on AMoL. I put these up so that people know what I'm doing, and that progress IS being made, even when the main progress bar doesn't inch up. With this book, I need to do drafts of completed material and send it to Harriet (Robert Jordan's wife and my editor on this project.) Doing a revision doesn't mean that I'm finished with the novel. It means that I'm going through a portion of what I've written and am polishing it to be sent to Harriet. Once I'm done doing a revision of that chunk, I'll get back to new material.
It's entirely possible that the book may be split into multiple volumes. This is not my decision; Tor and Harriet will make it. But I'm going to continue to treat the novel as a single volume. That main progress bar is for the COMPLETE book, not a single volume of it. Expect it to reach at least 150-160% before this book is done.
Another question I get a lot is regarding the writing Mr. Jordan did on AMoL before he died. Am I including that in the percentage bar? Yes and no. I'm not including work that he did, but which I haven't entered into the final volume yet. I'm writing chronologically by viewpoint, and when I get to a part he wrote, I insert it and write around it, streamlining it in. (Though most of what he left for the middle of the book is in the form of notes and outlines, so there isn't a lot to simply 'add' in.) Anyway, that means much of the writing he did at the end of the book hasn't been included in the percentage bar yet, but everything from the beginning of the book has been.
Sometimes you will see the percentage bar move faster than other times. Often, this means I have hit a section that Mr. Jordan worked a lot on, and I'm adding in his writing or am going more quickly because the outline is more detailed. Other times, this just means that I have more time to dedicate to writing than other times. (My book tour was a slow time for writing, for instance.)