George R.R. Martin has announced that he has finally finished writing A Feast For Crows, book 4 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series (sort of)*
The (sort of)* disclaimer refers to the fact that the manuscript for the book was :
1527 pages of final draft, … another hundred or so pages of roughs and incomplete chapters, as well as other chapters sketched out but entirely unwritten
So he and his publishers decided :
After much discussion and weighing of alternatives … to split the narrative into two books (printing in microtype on onion skin paper and giving each reader a magnifying glass was not considered feasible, and I was reluctant to make the sort of deep cuts that would have been necessary to get the book down to a more publishable length, which I felt would have compromised the story).
The first plan was simply to lop the text in half. In that scenario, I would finish the last few chapters in as short a length (and time) as possible. That would have produced a story of maybe 1650 to 1700 pages in manuscript, which we would simply have broken into two chunks of roughly equal length and published as A FEAST FOR CROWS, Part One and A FEAST FOR CROWS, Part Two.
We decided not to do that. It was my feeling — and I pushed hard for this, so if you don’t like the solution, blame me, not my publishers — that we were better off telling all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters. Cutting the novel in half would have produced two half-novels; our approach will produce two novels taking place simultaneously, but set hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, and involving different casts of characters (with some overlap).
The division has been done, and it think it works quite well. The upshot is, A FEAST FOR CROWS is now moving into production. It is still a long book, but not too long; about the same size as A GAME OF THRONES. The focus in FEAST will be on Westeros, King’s Landing, the riverlands, Dorne, and the Iron Islands. More than that I won’t say.
Meanwhile, all the characters and stories removed from FEAST are moving right into A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, which will focus on events in the east and north. All the chapters I have not yet finished and/or begun are moving into DANCE. I think this is very good, if truth be told, since it will give me the room to complete those arcs as I had originally intended, rather than trying to tie them up quickly in a chapter or two so I could deliver the massively late Big FEAST.