Foreign rights and planning

The Bone Season has sold in Czech

Foreign territories roundup so far: Brazil - Czech Republic - France - Germany - Greece - Netherlands - Sweden - Taiwan

Apologies for not updating for a while. I'm back in London temporarily after being back at uni for a few days. We've decided to do one more edit of The Bone Season after a third party *coughmoreonthatlatercough* looked through the manuscript and made a few suggestions. It's amazing what a pair of fresh eyes can do for a manuscript. I'll be working on the new edits alongside my Finalist workload, which is already insane. This week I have to read the longest novel in the English language, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. How many words is it, you ask? Over 900,000. No joke. Later editions apparently reached over a million words. I should really be reading it now, so I'll make this a short one!

The Bone Season at Frankfurt Book Fair
I have a massive piece of news, but I'm having to bite my tongue for another few days. It's not the cover design, but it is just as huge. I've been told I can talk about it on 20th October, so keep your eyes peeled in nine days' time.

My mini-topic this week is planning, with questions from PGW. I think planning is one of the most subjective elements of writing a novel, so don't necessarily do what I do. Do what works for you. Some writers make incredibly detailed plans for their novels and stick to them; some go with the flow; some don't plan at all. Some novels require more planning than others: fantasy, sci-fi, anything like that they all require you to introduce a new world to the reader, or at least show them the world through a different kind of glass. What I do strongly recommend is that you at least start to write something down when you have an idea, or you'll end up agonising over the planning for months without writing a word. You might find that once the words start flowing, so I will ideas. So here's a bit about how I approach planning.


1. What form does your planning take, and how detailed are your plans?

Quite a lot of my planning is in my head, stashed on the right side of my brain, but I've recently started writing them down and making mind maps to help me get to grips with how things come together. My world-building plans are very detailed. The world of The Bone Season is fairly complex, with a lot of history and multiple layers, and I have to make sure I've thought out all aspects of it in order to put it across well to readers. My editors have been great on this, as they've often challenged things I've written to make sure I've thought it through as fully as possible. Plot plans are a bit more skeletal. I know my beginning, middle and end and take it from there. Once I've got a first draft, I go back and rework it several times so the scenes fit together smoothly.     

2. Do you only start writing once you know exactly where you're going, beat for beat, or is there any element of making it up as you go along?

Definitely an element of making it up as I go along (though not on major plot points, which are always planned). There's been a few times when I've been writing The Bone Season 2 and just gone *ZING!* and had a new idea for a character or situation. I don't like to stick to a rigid structure, i.e. "In Chapter 1, this happens. In Chapter 2, this happens". I think it takes a lot of the excitement out of writing. So long as I have my main plot points in mind, I let the writing take me where it wants to go. I can always go back and smooth out the rough edges during the editing stage.   

3. Has your planning process changed since writing the first instalment of The Bone Season?

Interesting question. I think it has, but only a tiny bit. Since having editors I've realised I need to think every point through as thoroughly as possible. My world-building plans have certainly become more extensive. Before I was just holding the various worlds of The Bone Season in my head, but I sometimes tended to assume that the reader knew as much as I did, so I wasn't explaining things as much as I should have been.Which is good in some ways – I certainly don't like having everything spoon-fed to me when I read – but I also have to make sure there's enough detail there for the world to be comprehensible. 

Questions welcome as always. Look out for more news soon!


  1. As I writer hoping to break into the scene as you have, I must say that I love reading these blogs.

    But, my question: other than your current studies, have you studied a writing course (Creative Writing / Professional Writing) and what are your views on them?

    Thanks. Counting down days to the 20th!

  2. Could you talk a bit more about your world building plans and plot outlines? Perhaps the timing of the two and how they interact? I'm curious about whether the world is something completely fleshed out (on paper or just in head) before you build the plot onto it.

  3. 900 000 words, wow! That's huge. Good luck with that! I hope the novel is good. I'm on a course called The classics of Finnish literature and have about 17 books to read, but they're all quite short.

    Great post again. I got excited about the news you have!

    1. It's quite good – I'm enjoying it – but incredibly depressing. Quite hard work. The vast majority of the characters are extremely unpleasant people.

      Good luck with all your reading!

  4. I'm looking forward to hearing your exciting news - I bet it's a movie deal! I hope so! Once again, I learn something new from your posts. I honestly didn't realise how much you still have to edit even once you've got a book deal. I'm going through quite a dramatic editing process myself in response to 'fresh pair of eyes', so have you had to make significant structural changes to your novel? Or is it mostly changes to language? Or a bit of both?

    1. I really am glad you're finding it helpful! I'll do a 'summary post' on editing as soon as I'm done with it, looking back on the whole process - hope that will help. Then I can talk about the whole thing at once.

  5. Can't wait to hear the good news on the 20th! Give us a clue LOL. Has the bone season release date been moved to an earlier date? Or has the film rights for it been aquired?

  6. This was really interesting! I'm finding that no writer ever has the same thing to say about their planning process. Also, excited to hear about the news! I can only guess that it has something to do with Golem/Lord of the Rings/Tolkien?!

    1. That's interesting to know! And I'm excited too, I can't wait to announce it...

    2. And it is very possibly related to one of those things. :D

  7. Samantha,I am waiting for "massive piece of news" on 20th. I hope it will be worth waiting for. Here are my congratulations for Foreign rights and i hope list will only grow with time!

    For, Brazil ------------ Parabéns !
    Czech Republic ------------ Gratuluji !
    France -------------- Félicitations !
    Germany ------------------ Glückwünsche !
    Greece ------------------- συγχαρητήρια !
    Netherlands --------------- Gelukwensen !
    Sweden -------------------- Lyckönskan !
    Taiwan -------------------- 恭喜 gong xi !

  8. I have a challenge for you ;) Check it out:

    1. Ooh lovely. I'll do that in the blog post following the Big News one.

    2. Sounds good! I can't wait to hear what's going on! :D Getting more excited every day

  9. I am writing a blog The Younus Empire.
    I am going to write about upcoming novels, and The Bone Season will be in the list. The post will most likely be published on Saturday, or Sunday.


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