Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sub-plots, Last-Minute Changes, and Status 2018-11-21

Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you in the US anyway. For everyone else, happy Thursday.

Quick status update: Current word count is 77,800. Not the growth you (or I) might have expected, but I have also spent some time pre-editing the story, and ended up cutting some words in the process.

As I mentioned in my last post, writing did commence on that following Monday. I added a couple thousand words to the draft (after the pre-edit), and then paused for a bit to think. And think I did. Perhaps too much, but only time will tell.

After talking it over with my primary beta reader and editor, I've decided to add two additional sub-plots to the story. The upside to this decision is that it will add some interesting character development to no less than three of the major characters in the story. It will also open up some interesting avenues for future development in later books. These are ideas that I had previously planned for one or more later books, so they are not really new. The only difference is that I am pulling them forward into Book Two rather than waiting for a later story.

The downside is that I may not actually finish the first draft of this story by the end of the year. I don't think it will take too much longer--perhaps the end of Q1 2019, but no more than that. I haven't yet mapped out the additional scenes and scene changes that need to be done, so at this point I am only making best guesses. After I've mapped out the changes and additions, I should have a better idea of how long it will really take.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Coming Home

Saturday November 10, and I am in the Charles de Gaulle (Paris) airport, waiting to board my flight home. It's been a busy week here, in meetings just about all day every day, and team dinners in the evenings as well. Seems like I have only had a few hours to myself all week, and when I had those, I was trying to take a quick nap before the next event.

Needless to say, I did not get any writing done this week. Sad face! However, I did get to spend a week in Paris with amicable colleagues, enjoy some very good French food and wine, and take in a few sights around the city. Happy face!

Now I hope to recover from jet lag this weekend, maybe do a little writing, and get back to my normal daily life starting Monday. Writing will commence no later than that.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Getting Close to the End 2018-10-28

Just a few scenes left to write, and the rough draft will be complete. There will be plenty of editing and re-writing to come after that, but just getting the initial draft done is a big step--and I'm almost there!

Not much else to say at this point. Nice to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Back to Real Writing! 2018-10-21

Yeah, so I finally finished my read-through and restructuring last week, which meant that this weekend I was back to writing actual words on actual (digital) paper. Yay! I wrote about 1500 words this weekend, which isn't bad, although I have done more. But this is the part now where I am filling in missing scenes, so the writing feels a bit disjointed as I jump from scene to scene with no continuity.

I went through this same process with The Hand of Tyr, so it's nothing new to me. I was hoping to be better at it this time around, and I suppose maybe I am, but it's simply difficult to tell. Kind of like when you're in the middle of cleaning up a big mess, you know it will eventually be better, but at that moment it is still just a big ugly mess.

Summary: I fell a bit behind schedule with the restructuring, but am on my way to catching up. The rough draft will be done before the end of the year, as planned.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Restructuring Continues 2018-10-07

I'm about halfway through the book, making some small changes as I go, and taking notes when the changes are big enough that they will require additional thought and planning. While I could be tempted to think I wasn't getting anywhere with the book, seeing as how the word count has not grown over the past few weeks, I am encouraged to see that parts of the plot are being improved, and I have some good ideas for those sections that need significant re-writing.

Overall, I believe the process is going as it should. I went through many of the same steps with The Hand of Tyr, though they took much longer than I had anticipated at the time. Now that I've been through the process once, I am more comfortable with it and also am able to move more quickly through the various steps.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Restructuring the Story

It's been an interesting month. I've been building up a long to-do list for the story going back almost to the beginning, as I left myself various notes for improvement to the story and changes that I wanted to eventually make. Well, in the last couple of weeks I actually started going through that list. Haven't got very far yet, but I am already seeing improvements to the narrative structure and characterization of several people in the story.

I don't want to give too much away, so that is all I will say for now. Let the writing continue!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Slow Going - Status 2018-09-09

It's taken me a few days to get back into writing since Labor Day. I finally finished one scene that I had left hanging, and wrote another, just this morning. I had been hung up on those scenes, like a mild case of writer's block, so it was good to get them finished. Word count stands at 76,832, so I really do need to get off my tush and get back to work.

Having said that, I have also concluded that this book will not be as long as my original target of 150,000 words. That number was chosen arbitrarily, as The Hand of Tyr is about 170,000 words and I assumed this one would be close to the same length, but for no real reason. Now that I am coming close to finishing the rough draft, I am fairly certain that it will come in under 100,000. After the editing and inevitable re-writing, I am sure it will surpass 100k, but probably not by much.

I'm not disappointed, though, because I had set my own expectations early on that this book would be more action and adventure oriented, whereas The Hand of Tyr was an origin story combined with an epic quest, so it was almost two stories in one. But Book Two is able to build on that foundation and those characters, so I was able to get more quickly into the meat of the adventure. Which leaves us with a shorter story, but one that I believe will be better and more entertaining than the first.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Happy Labor Day!

For my friends and colleagues in the US and Canada anyway. I will be celebrating the holiday weekend by not doing any labor...

...which isn't entirely true, but it seemed like a funny comment at the time. Now I'm not so sure, but I don't want to second-guess myself so we'll just leave this post as-is.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Status 2018-08-19

The writing proceeds well this week, as I get back on track. Word count this afternoon stands at 75,267, and I may write a bit more today but I did just finish 1,000 words, so I probably won't get much further. Still, having written 4,000 words for the week (most of it yesterday and today, to be honest) looks pretty good to me.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Status 2018-08-13

I wrote about 600 words yesterday, and broke 71,000 words. Still behind schedule, but starting to catch up.

On an unrelated note, I was thinking about goblins recently. In The Hand of Tyr, they feature as a fairly basic monster and menace to civilized peoples, though they are not a great threat at this time. But historically, they were an existential threat to the early human empire of Shandollëa and the various colonies of Elefdar throughout the West.

In Tolkien's The Hobbit, they are one of the main groups of antagonists. And if I recall correctly, orcs are not mentioned in The Hobbit at all. There is a good reason for that: orcs are actually goblins. The word orc is Elvish (the Sindarin dialect), and was their name for the creatures that Men called goblins.

Does it matter? Not really, I just thought it was interesting. And if you prefer, as a reader, you can think of my goblins as orcs. Given the contemporary understanding of goblin (small, kinda of cute in a psychotic way, and only marginally dangerous) vs. orc (human-sized or slightly bigger, ferocious, very dangerous and cruel), it would be more accurate to imagine my goblins as orcs anyway.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Officially Behind Schedule

So as of this morning, I am officially behind schedule--but not by much. I worked out the math last spring and figured I would need to average 550 words per day to complete the book, at my word-count target of 150k words, by the end of the year.

I just noticed this morning that my average daily word count now needs to be 558 if I am still going to reach that goal. I had previously seen the required number drop as low as 523, when I was ahead of schedule a couple of months ago.

So what does all this mean? Not much, really. I spent the last couple of weeks pretty focused on the Pathfinder Playtest, reading the rules, rolling up sample characters, and learning the system. My gaming group will be starting the playtest this week, but that shouldn't impact my ability to keep working on the book (we were already playing a weekly Pathfinder game anyway).

So yeah, I'm a bit behind schedule, but not really worried about it at this point. I'll just write a few extra words each day, and eventually get caught up, or maybe even get ahead of schedule like I was back in June.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Gaaaaahhhh!

I promise I didn't rip off someone else's idea on purpose. As far as I know, we came up with the idea independently, and happened to also come up with the same name.

I discovered over the weekend, in reading the Pathfinder Playtest materials, that the world of Golarion (Paizo's published campaign world) has a region with the exact same name as a region I have in my own world, and which figures significantly in my work in progress.

Arrrghhh... I really don't want to rename my region just because someone else used it in their own published materials. So, call me a ripoff artist or copycat if you want, but I'm going to keep going with the book as planned, and keep the region and name that I'm using.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Status 2018-08-05

Made it to 69,350 words this week. Work on the book basically stopped after Wednesday, because the Pathfinder Playtest arrived on Thursday and I've been reading the rulebook and the associated other books that came with the package.

Not to worry, I'll be back to work on the novel starting no later than the middle of this week, say Wednesday.

In the meantime, I am really looking forward to joining the playtest and giving Paizo my feedback on the new edition of the game.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Status 2018-07-30

Made it to 67,000 words over the weekend. Spent a lot of the past week working on some plot changes that I had planned a couple of months back, but was just now getting around to fixing in the existing text. Basically I had to read the book from chapters three through six and do an intelligent find/replace of names, as well as re-write some of the dialog when the speaking character changed. My goal was to get all those fixes complete, and I was successful in that. Had them all done by Sunday around noon.

I spent the rest of the day playing The Last Guardian, which I finally got around to buying last month and have been casually playing here and there. Trico and I have been through quite the odyssey, and I have no idea how close (or far) we are from the end.

This week, the plan is to work on the additional scenes that I need to add due to those same plot changes that I have referenced before. I don't recall exactly how many there are... maybe around twelve at a guess. Once those are done, the rough draft will be about 90% complete. I will still need to go back and re-write the first couple of chapters just to fix continuity issues, and also I'll have the last chapter to write.

And... I just remembered that the Pathfinder Playtest drops this Thursday. That is going to make my productivity go down, as I plan to download the materials and start reading them right away. I've been following Paizo's blog posts pretty closely, and am very excited to give the new edition of Pathfinder a try with my gaming group.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Status 2018-07-23

I passed 65,000 words on Sunday. Progress continues!

Lots of stuff running through my mind over the weekend and this morning, but I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts. Long story short: passing 65k felt pretty good, not to mention checking off scene after scene as I move toward completion of the rough draft.

Looking further ahead, I think it will be fun to finish up the draft, take a couple weeks off, then come back to read through the entire story and start the re-writing process. That should be in the early part of 2019, with my goal unchanged at publishing in the first half of the year.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Progress Report 2018-07-16

As of Sunday evening, the word count stood at 61,065. That is pretty good progress for one week, and it's mostly because of all that groundwork I had laid the previous weeks: plot cleanup, adding a bunch of new scenes for the secondary plot, and the like.

Besides all that, I also started working on a new story idea that's been rattling around in the back of my mind for a couple of months. This is definitely a secondary project, so I won't be making much progress on it until the rough draft of Balfrith Book Two is completed. Not much else to say on this for now, but early next year you'll probably start to see me talking about it.

In the meantime, I've got to get back to writing Balfrith's story. Still on track to be done with the draft before the end of the year.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Status 2018-07-08

As of Sunday evening, the word count stands at 58,374. I didn't do a lot of writing prose this week, but I did spend a large number of hours working on the secondary plot timeline and making sure that it matches up with the primary. This involved going back through the primary plot and date-stamping all of the scenes so that I knew exactly when they occurred.

The date stamps, in this case, are based on my own calendar for the world of Aerde in Balfrith's era. The Hand of Tyr has many references to days and months from that calendar, so if you've read the book you will be at least somewhat familiar with the names.

With all of that work done, I'm ready to begin writing the secondary plot scenes, which will begin this week!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Status 2018-07-01

I went mountain biking today, and was so tired at the end that I have spent the rest of the day relaxing and recovering. As of yesterday, the word count was up to 56,713, and I have almost completed the Balfrith thread of the story. If you're not sure what I mean by "Balfrith thread", see here.

Really looking forward to completing this milestone, and moving on to the next.

Also, I killed a man a few nights ago. In the story. Not in real life.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Status, Monday 2018-06-25

Last week was another rough one. Super busy at work, working longer hours, and then we had friends visiting from out of town over the weekend. The latter part was great, but it didn't help my word count any.

Having said that, I did write over 1500 words just today, as I get back in the saddle. And I am still ahead of schedule to complete the book before the end of the year, so no worries there.

Nothing else to report.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Multi-threaded Plotting, and Status Report 2018-06-17

Starting with the status report: as of Sunday June 17, I am just about to hit 50,000 words. I was out of the country on business the past week, and the week before I was still cleaning up some of the plot changes that I mentioned in my last post. So while I did manage to hit my average daily quota of 550 words, I didn't hit or even come close to my stretch goals. But I am still excited to tell this story, still excited about the changes that I have mapped out, and excited to publish it early in 2019.

Now, on to "multi-threaded plotting". The meaning of this phrase is that the story has more than a single storyline, and I am writing the book from several different characters' points of view depending on which plot thread I am in. Not only that, but I am currently only writing one storyline from beginning to end. Once this part is done, I will go back and write the parallel storyline from its beginning to end. And that is what I mean by multi-threaded plotting.

Those who have read The Hand of Tyr know that it is basically a single-threaded plot that follows Balfrith and his companions. There are a few scenes with Balfrith's family, from his father's point of view, and those are important to the character building in that story as well as the resolution of the conflict between Balfrith and his father. But the vast majority of the story really does just follow Balfrith.

In the second Balfrith book, there are two main storylines each with their own POV characters. Balfrith is of course still the main character and his story is generally the central plot of the book. But there is another very important storyline that runs parallel with most of Balfrith's story, with its own main POV character who I will not name at this time. By the end of the book, these parallel plots come together into a single unified story.

As mentioned above, I will have written about 50,000 words by the end of this day. And that is all in the Balfrith storyline. I have almost completely ignored the parallel storyline, except to make myself an occasional note to remember something. But I have not yet written any prose for the parallel story.

Once Balfrith's storyline draft is complete, that will be my first big milestone for this book. And I will be quite happy to announce it on the day that it occurs.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange...)

Still making solid progress on the story, but I did realize early this week that there were certain plot and character elements that were rather... weak. So, I gave it a lot of thought over the next few days, and also engaged my "co-conspirator" (the Geekwif) in bouncing some ideas back and forth. By yesterday afternoon, we had re-written several pieces of the plot and a couple of character arcs.

None of them are revolutionary changes, more like evolutionary ones. Large parts of the story, scenes and chapters, will require only minor editing or slight re-writes to bring them in line with the new ideas. But I think even these small changes will reap huge rewards in a much better story, making it more engaging, more exciting, and more satisfying to read.

I will pass 40,000 words today, so if you do the math you will see I fell a little bit behind this week. That is primarily because of all the thinking and planning I was doing. I actually did write a few thousand words, but it was focused on recording my plot and character ideas rather than actual prose for the book itself.

But now, I need to get back to writing the story!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

30 May 2018: Thirty-nine Thousand Words

There's something about writing out the words for a nice big number like 39,000, that is remarkably satisfying. "Thirty-nine thousand words". So much cooler than 39k, or even 39,000, where all you see is a handful of digits with an optional comma thrown in.

Thirty-nine thousand. Yeah, I like it.

Hmmmm... one hundred fifty thousand. That's even better. I look forward to writing it out for real. And for reference, The Hand of Tyr is one hundred sixty-eight thousand words, so I am targeting about the same size for book two. Once I've gone through the re-writing and revisions, I expect it to grow, just like the first book did.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Progress Report - Sunday May 20, 2018

I'm still tying up a few loose ends on the current scene and chapter, but I did surpass 31,000 words (almost 32,000) today. For the week, that means I wrote well over 8,000 words starting last Monday and going through today, Sunday. That also means I surpassed my stretch goal of 1,100 words per day, on average. I did skip Friday completely, and did not hit my stretch goal on Saturday. But I made it up both earlier in the week as well as today.

Overall, I feel pretty good about that!

Monday, May 14, 2018

How Did Sunday End?

I finished up Sunday having written 2,000 words. That's nowhere near a record for me (I've written over 10,000 words in a day, on rare occasions), but a good day nonetheless.

Total word count for the book is currently just over 23,000 words. Ending target is 150,000, so I'm almost 1/6 complete.

Now I'm ready to start this week!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Progress Report, and One More Thing

As of today, the morning of Sunday May 13, 2018, I've written 6,629 words in the past eight days. Pretty good progress. My normal daily quota is 556 words. That's enough to hit my 150k word target by year-end. My stretch goal is to double that quota on a weekly basis, so instead of writing 3,892 words per week, I would write 7,784. I haven't quite hit the stretch goal this week, but it's only Sunday morning. I may very well do another writing sprint this afternoon or evening, and hit that target.

I don't have a stretch goal of writing 300k words for this novel, but rather would simply like to finish the draft early. If I hit my stretch goal, I would be done with the draft by October, meaning I should be able to publish this book sooner than planned. So it's a win for everyone!

On another topic, some people may be wondering if or when I'm going to start posting samples of the next book. Unfortunately I'm not in a position where I can do that at this time. I'm evaluating whether I might want to publish the book using Amazon's Kindle Select program. There appear to be some nice benefits to it, but it comes with the restriction of not being able to publish my book on any other platform. I'm not a big fan of vendor lock-in like this, but the benefits may end up outweighing the costs.

Anyway I am still evaluating this, so I may end up changing my mind. Until I've made a final decision though, I need to keep my manuscript unpublished, even in draft form.

Having said all that, I have some other story-related content such as maps and other notes, that I can still post here without any risks to the publishing of my book, so you can expect to see those start appearing in the near future. Starting with my new map of Nûmidëa and the West!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Over 3000 words this week, and it's only Friday!

Yeah, I finally got off my ... seat ... and got back to seriously writing every day. I recalculated my daily word-count quota so that I will still be on track to finish the first draft by year-end. And the daily number is still an easy target, so basically I'm surpassing that quota every day.

Not much else to say here, except that it's good to be back in the saddle again.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Not Dead, Just Busy

Hmmm... seems like I've said that before. I do have a new world map, part of which has become the background for this site. There are even a couple of Easter eggs in the image, which astute observers may notice. Feel free to comment below if you find them.

Incidentally, this image was produced using Inkarnate, a web-based mapping app. I purchased the Pro version which provides tons of additional textures and objects, as well as producing much higher resolution images. For someone like me who has a few creative impulses but lacks drawing or mapping skills, this is a fantastic tool that I cannot recommend highly enough.

The book proceeds slowly. To be honest, I'm rather behind my self-imposed deadline. The good news is that I've been able to free up some personal time which should enable me to start getting caught up. We'll see how that pans out. I have been known to be a bit optimistic at times in the past.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Still More Progress

After having re-written the plot outline a couple weeks back, I am now taking some time to map out specific chapters and scenes within those chapters, adding detail where I think it's needed. I've also cleaned up a couple of additional issues that were minor, but would have come up sooner or later during the writing. So now I've prevented them from coming up at all.

I don't like admitting that I still haven't written any prose, but the flip side is that I like the new-ish plot synopsis and character arcs more than I did at the start of this journey. Still not done with the plot detailing yet, but about 75% complete.