The timeline of this monster is going to drive me mad. I know perfectly well that as soon as DANCE is published, some of you out there are going to attempt to correlate its chronology with that of A FEAST FOR CROWS, fit all the parts together to suggest an appropriate chapter order for a (hypothetical, and largely impossible) combined book, something like what the "Big Feast" might have been, before the split.
Well, good luck with that. I'm glad you're doing it, not me. With all these characters scattered over my entire world, some chapters that span hours and others many months, various journeys and voyages to account for, not to mention the demands of the dramatic chronology, an entirely different matter than the literal chronology... well, it may well make your head explode. It did mine. The DANCE timeline alone is a bitch and a half.
Just musing aloud here, so don't anyone get all hysterical... but depending on how long the book comes out, moving some of these finished chapters into WINDS OF WINTER may make sense. Structurally you could make a good case for making DANCE a perfect parallel to FEAST; different cast of characters, but exactly the same time frame, so both books end on the same approximate date. Then WINDS could pick up the action for both sets of characters the following day.
That's not the way I have been doing it, however. As written, I've covered the FEAST time frame in the first 800 pages (manuscript pages, the printed book pages will be different) of DANCE. Everything that follows is post-FEAST, so that's where some of the cast from the last book start popping up again. Not the most elegant structure, I admit... but given how late this one is, I wanted to resolve at least a few of the cliffhangers from FEAST... (if only to set up the new cliffhangers). So...
These are the kinds of things I grapple with. No comments necessary, really. I am not looking for advice, and in fact I seldom talk about such issues precisely to AVOID unsolicited advice. These sorts of things are best resolved by me and my muse, sometimes assisted by my editors. Just felt like rambling a little.
Anyway, there we are. Back to the grindstone tomorrow.