Saturday, December 26, 2009

... zeroing in

I hope everyone had as merry a Christmas as I did (or even more merry!)

I am continuing to develop the nature of the next project(s) and since the last post I've revised things further. At the moment I am looking at two distinct projects; COT1.5 and COT2.

(Note that the terms COT1.5 and COT2, like COT-O and COT-R, are used merely for the sake of this blog and will not appear in any official form along with the completed projects!)

COT1.5 will (maybe) be called Circle of Tales. It, like COT-R will be a collection of six books, but each book will be stand-alone and there will be no specific order (with one small exception!). Four of these books will introduce new plots and characters within the COT/CoSaS/Thief universe. One will be a prequel to COT-R and another a direct sequel.

COT2 will be called (as has long been known!) Contravention of Thieves, and will be quite like what has already been discussed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

... multiple accounts

It looks like we're in luck. Redface has offered to take care of the formatting for the finished novel, and so far his work looks excellent. After a recent poll taking at TTLG (sorry blog followers, but I needed more than the three votes I usually get over the course of four weeks) it was decided that more pages, thus higher cost, was worth it for larger text. Redface should hopefully be taking care of two of the covers as well. ~~ In fact, I've asked all three of the artists if they could focus on getting the cover images done during January, and they seem optimistic. ~~ Our editor won't be available to work again until the end of January so I'm considering asking for additional help in the mean time. Actually I already replied to someone who had offered to do so, to see how serious he is. I'd really like to have someone who's never heard of Thief to read it and critique it as a piece of fantasy literature, but I've had no luck there so far. ~~ Meanwhile I'm thinking of a few additional things I missed during the last revision, but I'm not yet ready to jump back in for more work. These additional things involve Lytha, and it occurred to me that I had no intention of addressing these items during COT2 so it's now or never. I'd like for COT2 to be as baggage-free as possible: no leftover issues from COT-R to deal with.

Speaking of COT2, I keep going back and forth on certain issues. If you've been reading the blog you know that I was strongly considering doing the whole thing as a series of short stories rather than the tremendous epic novel that COT-R became. Now I am pondering actually splitting it into three separate projects. ~~ The first would be a collection of (rather long) short stories that can be taken totally in isolation. Some would be completely stand-alone tales set in the CoSaS Universe, some would be fairly closely linked to COT-R but not to Thief itself, and some would be Thief fan-fictions in a very true sense. The six principals from COT-R would get a mention from time to time, or even a cameo, but would not be featured heavily. All of these stories would be setting up backstory for what is to come, but all would also be rather self contained. ~~ The second would be again a series of short stories, but far less self-contained and rather more chapter-like. It would be a direct continuation of COT-R and feature the six principals heavily, though many would be told from the perspective of new characters. In fact I even considered naming this project "Book 7". On the other hand there's a total of eight stories planned for this project, so it might as well be called Book 8 as well! All of these stories would address an issue left unresolved at the end of COT-R and either provide a complete conclusion, or develop that plot in preparation for the third project. ~~ The third project would be Contravention of Thieves itself, and would be an actual novel with chapters and an interwoven plot just like COR-R. It would tie things from the previous two projects together and bring everything to a conclusion. Since so much ground will already be covered in the previous two projects, COT2 can launch directly into the meat of the story and provide a very fast-paced narrative with a minimum of exposition or backstory explanation. My goal would be to make it half to one-third the length of COT-R. Sounds good to me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

... and now, from our sponsor

COT isn't my only writing project. (How could it be?) Another book which I wrote about two years ago and was recently illustrated is now online for sale at CreateSpace.

This children's book features a group of seven friends who confront a mysterious and (as the title suggests!) massive wall, and the adventure that results. The book is 8"x8" and 26 pages, with color illustration on every-other page. Recommended for ages three to ten, or grown-ups who are still kids at heart. 1st grade reading level.

Arnie's favorite thing to do was to run around and see what he could find. But one day Arnie found something new, though it had been there all along. It was a great big, enormous, neverending wall. He wondered what could be behind it. He was sure it would be new places to run and explore.

I hope there will be some interest for this here among my blog readers and COT fans. This little project came about back during architecture school while I was designing a preschool. I wanted to collaborate with my sister on a book project and this seemed like a great place to start. So, I found it, dusted it off, rewrote some parts, and she did watercolor paintings for it. We have a second storybook in the works, this time written specifically for her particular illustration talents. I'll be posting about that here, too, when it's done.

Some previews can be found here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

... passing the torch

Nearly half an entire chapter.

That's now much longer COT-R is now that the 3rd draft is finished; around 8K words. That doesn't even take into account all of the stuff I deleted, either. If the new content is taken in addition to the deleted stuff (rather than in place of) the total comes around 30K words, which is longer than the longest chapter by just a bit. So basically, I deleted a whole chapter worth of stuff during this revision only to add back in a chapter and a half! (Or a really really long chapter!)

I'm pretty satisfied. The story seems much more solid, now. Plot holes were filled in and smoothed over. A great deal that was left unexplained has now been made much more clear. Conflicting and contradicting things have been straightened out. I think this will be the last revision. All that's left now is proofreading.

Unless, of course, one of my critics discovers a new plot hole I totally missed. It's still possible. I hadn't realized before that there would be so many.

Oh, and the current page count? 1,113

... and we have a 3rd draft

Well, not quite. I still need to go through and create a version clean of all editing marks and grayed out deleted text. As expected I very nearly flew through Book 6, though some large edits were still necessary. All in all it was extremely beneficial to do the entire revision in under two weeks. With this speed everything was very fesh in my mind as I read through it, so that the smallest plot hole (I hope!) was able to be spotted. I feel, finally, that the story is finished. All that remains now is the final proofreading and grammarical fixes... unless of course one of my critics or editors spots a new plotty error!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

... by virtue of deletion

Book 5 was smooth sailing until I got to chapters 19 and 20, and that's when the major surgery resumed. There weren't alot of scenes that required heavy revision, just a few that needed a few paragraphs outright deleted (when this can be done without changing the scene, it's probably a good idea to do so!) and a few new scenes added to fill in some plot-pot-holes. I still have my list of things to fix, though at the moment it's void of plotholes. I already know that book 6 is going to need one semi-major change, though I don't know yet how I am going to do it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

... stop looking for patterns

Of course as soon as I notice the pattern from books 2 & 3, book 4 doesn't follow it.

What was expected, though, was the dramatic reduction in surgery needed during the revision. I'm keeping a little "todo" log of things I need to keep my eye on while reading and revising. There's only one major plot-hole left to fill, a list of three topics I need to check for consistancy throughout the rest of the story, and six topics which I need to better explain, add more information on, or provide a reference to somewhere. I expect smooth sailing, except for that plot hole... which may be tricky to fill.

Friday, December 11, 2009

... surgery continues

I'm half done with the revision (just finished Book 3) and the major surgery continues. The frequency of the needed changes are growing less frequent, but their severity has not. Book 3 has some big story chapters, and a great deal of contradictions and confusing facts were sorted out, and at least one gaping plot hole filled in. I also noticed a funny pattern in the way both Books 2 and 3 play out. Both begin with a great deal of intense action, which calms a bit in the 3rd chapter before a fairly tranquil forth chapter that mostly serves to built up to the first chapter of the next book. I wonder if it continues throughout the next two books.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

... book 2 done, moving along

With the exception of Chapter 5 (which saw huge rewrites) most of Book 2 only needed tweaking. Most of the problems where in the form of characters knowing more than they should or less than they should, and was correctable in just a few lines. It comes from having written this in so many revision passes that did not always include a thorough read-through like I am doing now. I'd go to one section and do a change, but would forget that several other sections later on needed to be changed to reflect the alteration. It also came in the form of descriptions. Often a more lengthy, detailed description of something was inserted during a revision, and during this revision I'd notice a shorter, less clear description of the same thing later on. The older, second description is then removed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

... sometimes you just redo

There's a list of things I planned to correct during this revision, but in Chapter 5 I stumbled upon some problems I had not expected. Correcting those problems required more work than all of the previous revisions to the previous four chapters, and included many new edits to the previous four chapters.

It was another case of me attempting to be vague with the reader, but falling into the trap of being vague with myself too. Even if some things are kept hidden or unclear, they should not be hidden or unclear to the author himself. Undoing the damage this caused resulted in the complete rewrite (not just deleting a few lines and adding a few) of two sections in chapter 5, the creation of a totally new one in chapter 4, heavy changes to a few others in both 5 and 4, and a dozen of small changes to sections going as far back as chapter 3. In the end some stuff I liked had to be thrown out, and the new stuff is not necessarily more entertaining, but now it all actually makes sense and has a logical flow of events.

What more can I say? Simply that Ghost gets a bit more backstory now than he did before.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

... final changes

The changes in the 3rd draft's revision are not sweeping by any means, but they are important. It's not only a chance to make sure that events (and locations) in the early chapters are in continuity with the final ones, but is another chance to correct some mistakes in the storytelling which I can either chalk up to lack of foresight, or laziness! It's the type of thing that can only be done with the entire story written, the sprinkling of details and tiny events which serve to tie the entire work together.

At any rate, I just finished with Book 1, though I may return to it before the 3rd draft is done. I except that it's Book 1 that required the most attention, but I will go through the entire story with the same care nonetheless.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

... a third draft, work resumes

Yesterday I received the completed second draft of COT-R, along with a generous helping of additional materials. My editor provided some in depth analysis of problem areas to help me fix them (they almost always deal with inconsistencies of location descriptions) as well as a guide to writing Hammerite lingo. I haven't jumped head-first into work on the third draft yet, though I did take a crack at rewriting (again, for the eighth time) the passage which acts as an introduction to the story, Thoughts Concerning the Delegates...

Though usually only my critics get to see this stuff, I thought it'd be nice to do a comparison between the 2nd draft version and the 3rd draft version. But first, the bit that came before any of the eight revisions: Foreword, by an anonymous Keeper. In the original this section was written by a Keeper, Daelus was of course named Daneel, and much time is spent summarizing Thief: The Dark Project. Now, here's the 2nd draft version...

Their numbers are as unknown as their intentions and origins. Even the title ‘Delegate’ is based on cryptic passages in old tomes. It is suspected that many pivotal events within The City for the past one hundred years could be linked to them, and that some important historical figures were actually Delegates themselves. Nothing is conclusive. There can be no conspiracy when the agents, by their very nature, do not conspire.

Five months prior to this day, and twenty nine days after the passing of The Trickster (see any and all annals concerning ‘The Dark Project’ for further information on this and related events), a suspected Delegate arrived in The City. The nature of his arrival within our borders was not uncommon; hence this event was not recorded, only researched in retrospect.

His name, Daelus Thresh, was discovered after months of delving through ancient texts. It had been written that he was a man possessing a shattered past welded back together by force of consciousness, with scars of great power and conflicting magical energies still burning at the torn edges of his psyche. His every action mirrored the duality of his nature, a subconscious schism which divided one path into two, yet with the conscious illusion of being one. He believed that his use of alternate identities was of his own free will; it was however a fact of his existence which ran deeper than he could fathom, an aspect of himself which he was unable to escape.

Like all Delegates, he came from another place; a place hidden from us. He was not the first of them, and not the last; but held an important distinction amongst them, for he would bring with him a shard of this other place into our own land, and from this shard his journey upon branching, twisting paths would begin. It was both arrogance and naiveté that allowed this Delegate to do what no reasonable practitioner of bizarre arts would dare to in all but the greatest of privacies. He conducted a ceremony which caused a structure to spring forth from the mountainside to the north of The City.

It was written that the Delegates, as their first rule, were not to make contact with one another. By this act, in all likelihood, soon every Delegate in The City would become abundantly aware of him, just as we were made aware. How this has affected their plans remains to be seen, but it is an important sign: secrecy is becoming a lower priority in comparison to other goals.

Now the tower stands as if it always had, and the people of The City seem to have accepted it as such; a startlingly appropriate metaphor for the man himself who, in this short time, has dug himself deeply into our society.

Though it's not stated, and Keepers are not in COT-R, it's still written with the idea that it's being spoken (or written) by a Keeper doing a report. Some have suggested that this entire passage ought to be dropped, as a story like this doesn't really seem suited to such a dry expositional opening. Well, it hasn't been dropped, but it's been rewritten in such a way that I think suits the story much better.

I had been obsessed with them since the moment I came to this land. Some unsubstantiated notion hidden deep within my clouded and damaged memories propelled me to pursue them, study them, and know them. In time I gave in completely to this desire, discarding all semblance of a life in the pursuit of this coveted knowledge.

They called themselves Delegates. In spite of my amassed discoveries, their numbers remained hidden as did their true intentions and origins. Though they all were perfectly unique, they held one important aspect in common. Their every action mirrored the duality of their nature, a subconscious schism between obedience and rebellion which divided one path into two, yet with the conscious illusion of being one. They believed that this was of their own free will; it was however a fact of their existence which ran deeper than they each could fathom, an aspect of themselves which they were all unable to escape.

Within that context they seemed to operate under two principal rules: achieve great power, and make no contact with one another. I found that many pivotal events within the past century could be linked to them, and some historical figures were actually Delegates themselves. Though they excelled at the fist rule, it seemed at the second they were less successful.

Five months prior to this day a Delegate arrived in The City. I did not notice it at the time, for the daily comings and goings of people through the sprawling, nameless metropolis were countless. There was however something specific which drew my attention to him, as well as the attention possibly of all other Delegates.

It was both arrogance and naiveté that allowed this man to do what no reasonable practitioner of bizarre arts would dare to do in all but the greatest of privacies. He conducted a ceremony which caused a structure, in all likelihood a shard of the Delegate’s own land, to spring forth from the mountainside to the north of The City. While it was possible that in some lands a deed such as this could be considered commonplace, in the world of The City it bespoke powerful and dangerous sorcery.

I soon discovered his name, Daelus Thresh, and that somehow I remembered him. I knew him, though I could not understand how. What relic of my shattered past did he represent? Could I weld the memory back together through sheer will of consciousness alone? That recollection, that spark of self awareness was what propelled me to focus all of my energy on mending the torn, burnt edges of my psyche. My obsession grew tenfold. My resolve became absolute. I would know.

Regardless of my own personal investment, what this departure from discretion meant for their plans remained to be seen. It was an important sign: secrecy is becoming a lower priority to them in comparison to other goals.

Though the rewrite of this was inspired by the passage at the very end of the story where I decided, finally, who this section is spoken by, the key term here is in the second-to-last paragraph. Personal Investment. A dusty exposition by an unknown scholar was no way to introduce the book. A passionate recounting of an obsession suits it much better.

Several bits of this which had been devoted to Daelus are now no longer pertaining to him. The first, dealing with the duality of nature, I felt was more appropriately applied to ALL of the Delegates. I also decided to go ahead and actually explain what the hell this is getting at – the idea that the Delegates are both compulsively loyal to their masters and must rebel against them. The other bit is the part about the torn burnt psyche, which now more appropriately pertain to the speaker himself.

Finally, I nixed the reference to Thief: The Dark Project because I felt that it was simply irrelevant to the speaker and would only confuse readers who aren’t familiar with the games. Fans of Thief will get an idea of where all of this takes place in the timeline later on.

Monday, November 16, 2009

... words from editor land

I received another phone call from my editor. Things progress well, and yet she feels that another read-through before she sends it back to me is needed. What will this be, her fourth? fifth? I've lost count. The point is that my final revision is still some time away, but her editing will have been very thorough. She promises a complete overhaul to the Hammerite dialog to make it grammatically correct for English in the style of "King Arther and his Knights" (since she didn't have a King James Bible like I had suggested). She's also (I did not ask her to do this) edited the entire manuscript into the format it would need to be in for book-style publishing. Essentially, when it's back in my hands my remaining work will probably be very small.

There's no new news from COT2 land, though there is a great deal of other writing news in my life. My Japan Journal is back up for sale, and I'll be giving CreateSpace a proper shakedown to see how well it handles my store. I have two more works in the pipeline, both storybooks, both awaiting the final illustrations.

I have not yet decided what to do with the published original COT, but still think that if I do allow people to buy it I should only do so much closer to the release of COT-R, if not after it. I did a poll previously on this, but encourage the new readers to offer their thoughts on how to handle it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

... to advertise or not?

The cosas site is going to get a bit of a redesign, and I was pondering if this blog should be presented in any way/shape/form. What do you all think? Should I keep this blog exclusive for those who are persistent and curious enough to find their way here, or should I put a prominent link to it on the main cosas site? No poll this time... just answer in comments please.

Friday, October 23, 2009

... architectural revisions

Word from my editor indicates that a third pass is well in progress, and things have gotten far tougher. By that I mean she's gotten far tougher on me, and is giving the story a good smack-around to whip it into shape. Oddly enough, two sections were so badly written that she wrote paragraphs explaining the problems, and both had to do with architecture. Simply put, the descriptions of both Nightfall's tower and The Lady's villa are confusing, and the content of the story inconsistent with what's described. To my defense, all of this was written before architecture school, and based heavily on the original story. Of course none of that is an excuse, and I look forward to extensive revisions of both problems once the manuscript is back in my hands.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

... reverse derivation

While writing COT-R I adopted a theory which I dubbed reverse derivation. This will be drawn upon much more for the writing of COT2, since I will be exploring into unknown territory, and dealing with the most pivotal events of the entire Thief trilogy, such as the transformation of The City which took place between the Dark Project and the Metal Age.

Fanfictions are derivations of derivations. Works of fiction are derived from the real world, and then the fan derives farther still. This copy-of-a-copy approach (though now that the VHS days are behind us that concept will probably die soon) is a component in the fanfictions infamy. Different works have different levels of derivation from the real world. Books, oddly enough, seem to be derived the least from the real world. (This is ironic to me because books are the farthest from the real world, being just strings of symbols...) Movies go in the middle, and games are derived the farthest. I find this ironic again, since games are supposed to be interactive simulations so they should be the closest of all to real life, right? In reality I think all gamers agree that the abstractions in games really does push it the farthest away.

So the conundrum of the game fanfic is to be the type of work that should be the closest derivation of the real world, and yet it's derived from the thing that is the farthest derivation of the real world.

So, that's where the reverse derivation comes in. I am attempting to place my writing on the derivation chain where literature should go, rather than at a distant point beyond games. Of course, even though the Thief universe is derived from the "real world" it's a different world from our own. So what I've done is looked at patterns in games that are derived from the real world, such as historical shooters and so forth, and reversed their conventions along the same lines to arrive at what real world elements the game-world elements in Thief could be derived from. In many cases it's trivial. Games have health packs or first aid kits which deliver instant recovery from fatal wounds the same way that Thief's healing potions do. Thus, in the literary version of the Thief universe, health potions are no different from common medicine. The various fantastic arrows that the player is given is more difficult to reverse-derive since they're unique in all of gaming, but they've driven me to the conclusion that elemental crystals are real, and it would be possible to tie one to an arrow, but noone goes around with a quiver full of water arrows, and they would probably be very difficult to shoot.

Health potions and water arrows are trivial in the grand scheme of things. The real topics that interest me are the historic ones, the ones that deal with the culture of the Thief world and how the society operates. Those will be the topics I will tackle with great interest while writing COT2, and it's very likely that the broad strokes will not agree with what is presented in the games. I very much doubt that the Call of Duty games paint an accurate picture of World War II.

Monday, October 12, 2009

... backtracking

After talking it over with some concerned people and thinking about it over the weekend, I'm backtracking from my previous post. If COT2 is going to be COT2 then it should stick with the same form throughout. So at this point (who knows how things will change) I shall continue to plan out the entire work as a series of self continued but networked short stories.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

... a mixed plan

My current plan is to do COT2 in three sections.

The first section will comprise three books, and will consist of 12 to 14 short stories. I say 12 to 14 because I have 14 ideas for stories, but at least two of them are so distinctly independent from the grand plot arc of COT2, they could easily be omitted. Five of the stories happen before COT-R, and the other nine after. Of the nine after, four of them build upon events of the previous ten stories. Does my math make sense?

The second section will be a stand-alone novella featuring Ghost and Lytha in an adventure that, while being a naturally progression of their story, is not intrinsically linked to the grand plot arc of COT2. I decided to do it this way because I wanted to continue their story, but I felt that trying to integrate it with the main one would be a disservice to both. I am not sure if I want to tell it in the COT-R standard four-chapter format, or go for something different, but it will be a stand alone story about as long as one of the COT-R books.

The third section will take the plotlines introduced in the first 14 (or 12) short stories and weave them together into a two-part novella (Books 5 and 6) in order to bring COT2 to a conclusion. It will strongly resemble COT-R (and COT for that matter) in that it will be telling multiple stories simultaneously, forgoing the short-story format used in the first three books.

I feel that doing it this way allows me to focus on the small issues for the first three books, in a series of stand alone stories any of which could exist separate from COT2 (or even Thief canon). Then, I switch from crawling to walking with a much larger-scale stand alone story, and finally wrap it all up with a tale that readers of COT-R would be accustomed to that can launch directly into the meat of the plot without having to spend several chapters setting the stage. All of this also assumes that COT2 will be about the same length as COT-R, but it's flexible enough to allow anything to happen.

In a nutshell, COT-R was one book in six volumes. COT2 will actually be six books. The first three will be short story collections, followed by a novel, followed by a two-part novel. That sounds doable, and fun.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

... three books, nailed down

I sat down last night and this morning to nail down the content of COT2 Book 1 (the first four stories) and ended up doing the same for 2 and 3 as well, though in much less detail. In the end I went with a more chronological arrangement (though not a strict one) where the first four stories concern events that actually happen before COT, dealing with new characters, with some cameos. They'll all be very different, some very dark, some more lighthearted, some very independent, some very fanficcy, some taking place over the course of months, some hours. The second book will be a direct continuation from the end of COT, and in the third book the various short stories will start to come together into a larger plot, with the characters and events from the first book tying in with the second.

It's possible that for books 4, 5, and 6, I may switch back to more chapter-like stories, with a continuous flow. It depends on how things go! I suspect it may be wise to wait until these twelve stories are written before planning out the next twelve. I will say one thing is certain - going with a short-story format has made things much easier to manage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

... rummage sale

Went digging through the old COT2 today, looking for more good things to salvage for the new version. I didn't find much. Really, I barely found anything.

What I have for COT2 is in a bit of a pile. It's about 200,000 words long, with no chapter structure or any sort of clear narrative. There's a couple of story arcs going on, which fade in and out as the story progresses (told strictly chronologically) over the course of several months. It generally results in a convoluted mess that has no clear purpose or direction.

I'm going to start laying down the blueprints for at least a half-dozen of the stories which will form the starting point for COT2, but now it seems I'll be doing it without the aid of the existing text.

Friday, September 25, 2009

... proof of passage

I've been told that the first proofreading pass on COT-R has finished, which includes some actual editing too. There will be a second pass and then maybe a third beyond that, at which point the proof draft will be sent to me for my final revision edit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

... this time I'll actually listen

I put up a new poll concerning a genuine curiosity. Some polls I put up just because I'm curious about what people think, and don't really intend to act on the results of the popular opinion. In this case I probably will.

I intend to divide COT2 into books just like how I divided COT-R into six volumes. The COT2 books may end up being more thematically linked than the COT-R ones, or may not. We'll see how it goes. As the question in the poll states, what kind of stories do you want to see in the first book?

The first story already deals with a new character and a new plot, with only a small link to the original COT. I would like to continue doing this for the next few stories, but I know that readers can sometimes be frustrated when reading the next book in a series only to find that none of the familiar characters or stories seem to be present. So, make your opinions heard.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

... contravention

Last night I dug up and dusted off the first chapter of Contravention of Thieves, (COT2), and revised it into Story 1: The Nightbringer. The revisions entailed some heavy edits to the first section, which was written shortly after the original COT was finished, a new final section, and the removal all sections written from the point of view of other characters, dealing with other plots. The goal was to create a short story told from the perspective of a single character, with a clear beginning, middle, and conclusion.

This sets the tone for what COT2 will be. Rather than a 24 chapter 900 page epic, it will be a series of short stories that eventually flesh out a bigger picture. Doing it this way allows me to focus on each idea as a separate unit, developing each plot independently of the greater whole. Though the scope of COT2 will be much more vast than COT (dealing with dozens of principals over the course of several years) the methods used to convey it make the project much easier to tackle.

Some additional stories can still be excavated from the discarded COT2, but the majority of it was made irrelevant by COT-R.

Of course, COT and COT2 are still on the backburner. I just did this as a break from the job hunt, so don't expect Story 2 to show up any time soon. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

... an inch of movement

Yes, a new post after all this time!

One of my proofreaders has made it as far as one third through the story, and she seems poised to finish the whole thing unless something crazy happens. While I am currently very preoccupied with the employment effort and cosas 3, having a set of proofing notes to spearhead the next revision is a very good step forward in the finishing process.

I also set up a new poll, just for the heck of it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

... being this as it does

I've started discussion of the two most recent polls in the Batcave Forum to see what people actually think about it. As I mentioned before, I am not against naming the books, I just can't think of proper names for them. As for publishing COT-O ... I think the best time to do it would be in anticipation of COT-R ... so once I work out a publishing schedule, say one volume per month, I'll do COT-O for the first month.

As for now, I'm working on an update to my portfolio, which shall take a few more months of work, I think. At the moment I am working in 3dsMax 2010, which I am finally starting to feel comfortable enough with to actually show some of my work off. After that I really should move on to UT3Ed and/or TES4CS.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

... a book in hand

The proof copy of COT-O came in the mail the other day. Surprisingly fast! Lulu usually took around two weeks.

The binding seems a bit shoddy, but lulu's tended to be shoddy sometimes too. The paper is bright white, much whiter than lulu's. One other issue is that the book warps. It's hard to really convey from the photos, but when it's left flat on the table it gets all wrinkly and the cover curls open. Not very good. Lulu doesn't do that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

... it's what it costs

My fact-finding venture has produced results. It seems that Amazon's createspace does produce print on demand books for a few dollars cheaper than does. The biggest boon however should be in the shipping costs, as I know from experience that Lulu gouges on international shipping, and Amazon is, well, Amazon. Here's the publishing versions of the COT-O cover and the book itself.

I would like for the blog readers to check out the pdf file and offer any suggestions or comments about the formatting, as this is the prototype for how COT-R will be formatted.

Friday, June 12, 2009

... getting some distance

I decided it was about time to update with some information on COT-R since it is fairly relevant to that project. I gave this page some linkage as well as a new title image using an amazing bit of artwork done by Dominus. (It was a prototype for the 1st book's cover.) I am also toying with the term e-play (as a quick way of describing e-mail based role-play, along the lines of screen-play, radio-play, stage-play, and so forth) as a way to define the original work and to distinguish it from the rewrite. I plan to keep the original around, and not try to hide or cover it up, so I am thinking of ways to make it clear which I am talking about without having to say "the original" and "the rewrite".

In fact I've started formatting COT-O into a book for eventual publishing along with COT-R. On one level it's a good prototype to experiment with formatting and how I want everything to look, so that as I do the next revision and edit to COT-R I can format it for publishing then, rather than having to do another whole pass for that purpose. On another level, I am quite fond of the original, and I think many others are too, so it makes sense to make it available in book form as well. However, it will be done as-is, which means that whenever I typed solomon but meant solemn, the error stays. All of the errors are part of COT-O now, and thus they shall go with it to the printer and onto our shelves.

I think that about wraps things up for me for now. Everyone whom I had ever sent a copy of the unfinished COT-R now have a copy of the current draft whether they wanted it or not, so my fingers are crossed that I'll be getting some good critical feedback within the next few months. In the mean time, it's time to take off my writer's hat and try to focus on other things.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

... they've got us covered

Sent out emails/PMs to the four cover artists today, with their assignments and a template image for the proportions of the cover and where the spine goes. Here's the breakdown.

Book 1: - Jyre - Her climbing up Nightfall's tower (Dominus)
Book 2: - Ghost - Zombies and Hammerites on either side (redface)
Book 3: - James - Seated in a study overflowing with books (Ireth)
Book 4: - Lytha - Something to do with the Hammerite Castle (Julia)
Book 5: - Sheam - In the clutches of Balastar Ramirez (Ireth)
Book 6: - Nightfall - Dunno yet (Dominus)

I gave Ireth and redface more information than that... probably enough to get started. For Julia I tried to get the ball rolling with some speculation, as I am not sure yet exactly how the scene should be set up. Dom is already at work.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

... working it all out

I am stil trying to work COT out of my system as I ease into other projects.

The new poll is a double one so I did a strange multiple-choice answer system, since it's asking a pair of yes or no questions.

First question - should I name each of the six books? I believe no, because I do not want to give the illusion that they are in any way stand-alone novels to be picked up and read in any order. That's why I am calling each one "Book # of 6" and not just "Book #".

Second question - should I number each section? I can see this being useful during the editing process, so that someone need merely say "section 76" rather than the chapter number and the name of the section, but as I reader I think I would find it a little obnoxious to be reminded that I am reading section 124.

Any counter-arguments?

I've narrowed down basic ideas for each cover scene, but I still need to nail down the particulars before I contact the artists. I limited the options to scenes that are actually pertinent to the volume they adorn, while still tyring to choose moments that are both pivotal to the principal character they illustrate, and does not give any big spoilers away! In some cases I should maybe discuss it with the artists to see where their particular strengths want to pull the direction of the designs. Before I do any of that though, it would be really good if I gave the artists a template to work with, so that they'll know the exact proportions of the image, where the spine will be, where certain text is going, and so forth.

I made another decision regarding COT2 that I can probably talk about. (Be advised, actual writing work on COT2 will not begin for a long time, but it's fun to think about it right now!) I completely avoided the Keepers for COT-R, partially because I felt like they were never really adequately illustrated in Thief 1 & 2 for adaptation, and partially because I felt that they were summarily ruined in Thief 3 which presented the supposed all knowing keepers of the balance as confused naive clods. For COT2 I will bring them in, but if I do so, it will be with heavy modifications to who they are and what, exactly, they do. I may even redesign them from the ground up, with only the tiny peeks we got in Thief 1 (which I still consider the definative look at The Keepers) as guidelines. This would represent a signifigant break from the norm, where I tried very hard to keep things in line with what was seen in the games (though I did do a fairly large overhaul to the pagans, I did so without directly contradicting anything!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

... for newcomers

I added this passage to the COT-R page on

How would you describe COT-R to newcomers?

It's like Thief (the PC game) meets 24 (the TV series). It's like a film-noir detective story set in an alternate reality 18th century European city, but with steam-powered technology and zombies and religious factions wielding real magical power. It's about six different people from different walks of life with very different needs and agendas, and how their stories weave together. It's social commentary mixed with horror and romance and violence and comedy. It's a thriller. It's a story where the characters are in charge and the author is along for the ride as much as the readers.

For those of you who have been reading COT-R, how would you describe it to a Thief fan or a non-fan?

... the current numbers

The red bar indicates the pre-chapter segue, and the blue the chapter itself. Click for big!

... dream, dream, dream

I kept dreaming of writing chapter 25, so I just got up. Make it stop! There is no chapter 25!

I sent out copies of the finished story to a few people, and am anxious to hear what they think. Only two of them are up-to-date on their reading, so I don't expect to get all of the impressions of the ending for a while yet. Now I need to try to relax and focus on other things.

Since a major point of this was to make COT2 actually possible, I will admit that I have been giving the sequel some serious thought lately. I even made a list (it's pretty long) of the things I no longer need to do in COT2 because they've been taken care of by the rewrite. I've decided that COT2 will probably be a collection of 24 short stories probably around the length of a COT chapter each. Some will be fairly stand alone, but others will link together into a longer narrative. It's not going to be the same long epic plot as COT was though, which means that if I want to stop at 8 or 16 chapters, I can. There won't be principals in COT2, but rather each story will have a set of characters who tell it, maybe sometimes just one, so the reader never know when a "chapter" will introduce a totally new main character. I am doing it this way because the story I want to tell has a very long timeframe (several years) and involves many seemingly (and actually) unrelated events in many non-local locations. Thus, trying to fit that into a novel-like framework would be disconcerting. It would lack a proper arc, and seem like just random stories and events. SO, that's exactly what I will present it as... a series of short stories.

What is not decided is when I'll do it though. If COT-R goes "live" and the community seems to love it and I get lots of orders for printed books, I'll gradually start working on COT2. If COT-R gets fairly ignored/panned, that's just my cue to start thinking about the other, totally original story ideas I've been brewing over the years.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It is Finished

(no ... so you know this is serious)

I dreamed all night about finishing COT, so when I got up this morning (around noon, I went to bed at 7 am after writing all night) I got to work. I never do this... it's usually impossible to write during the day.

I went over all I had written in Chapter 24, did some additions and tweaks, and then wrote the final scene. In a strange twist, the rewrite for the final scene was much shorter than the original. (And aside from the setup and the location, bore little resemblance to it!) When that was done I wrote the final segue, which isn't a segue since there was nothing to segue into... more like an afterword. Of course, it provided symmetry with the foreword. (something missing in the original!)

So that's it.

The 1st Draft of COT-R is finished.

... all but the last

The bulk of Chapter 24 is now "on paper" with only one more scene remaining (fans of the original may remember a certain epilogious meeting in Nightfall's tower) before I call it finished. Much of 24 is similar to the original's chapter 25, especially a certain conversation between Nightfall and James that served as a wrap-up for some loose ends. Of course, the contents of the conversation are much different, it's just the scene that's the same. In more ways, though, this chapter mirrors the first one of the rewrite.

(In the original they discussed the nature of evil vs. chaos, who the mysterious robed figures were, and what the summoned entity actually was. In COT-R chaos vs. evil has already been discussed, they know exactly who the figures are, and have no reason to further discuss the summoned entity... so they are freed up for other topics.)

Chapter 24 is going to end up being half the length of a normal chapter, but with the segues preceding it included, it will be just a hair short of the previously shortest chapter.

Another oddity... 24 is the first chapter I've written in a very long time without an outline.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

... if I say I'll do it I'll do something else

Naturally after writing that post I wound up not doing at all what I said I would. I worked on the segues that will make up a good portion of Chapter 24, each one of which is a coda to a character or group of characters. I was picky about who got one, limiting it to people or groups of people whose fate was still in question at the end of the story. If the character makes an appearance in Chapter 24, I did not include them, so for example (spoilers!) Jossimer, Richen, and Rembrandt didn't get one, but Thurm, Soore, and Othello did. I'm calling it done, but if I think of more characters I want to give a send-off to I'll put them in.

Friday, June 5, 2009

... plans for tonight

After a night off, it's time for work. Plans for tonight...
  • Outline and maybe start on Chapter 24... but probably just write up the outline.
  • Try to pin down what I want to see for the book covers and who I'd like to do which. There's still only four artists but I think that will be enough. I'm going to make each cover actually pertain to the volume it adorns, rather than just being a pivitol character moment.

I don't know why I made that into a list when there's just two points. Hm.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

... forum poll

I added a new poll asking now the blog readers feel about a finishing-forum. Granted, most of the blog readers probably wouldn't participate (unless you're one of my critics or proofreaders) so I guess they're not the right people to ask, but I felt like doing a poll anyway.

My main thought is that the forum would help me keep all of the comments in one place, rather than in dozens of emails and assorted text and word documents all over my computer. So it's less about the critics discussing things as a group and more about just making things easier for me to manage.

I guess I can address some of the topics of past polls too.

Each character's sections are headed by their name, a title, and a date. How should Daneel "Nightfall" Todulem's sections be headed?
The sections are headed with Nightfall, but his name is now Daelus Thresh.

Share your thoughts on the way this type of story should end.
Asymetrical but balanced was what I went with. There aren't six distinct endings, but each character still had their "moment".

Concerning things left open for COT2
This is more the domain of the unwritten chapter 24, but I already know that there's going to be no cliffhangers, rather a very strong emphasis on the idea that everything is still in motion.

Getting near the end here, the rewrite is no longer going to resemble the original much. That was always the plan. Feelings?
I think I already mentioned that there's plenty of pretty strong ties to the original's ending, but fans of the original will still have no idea what to expect.

If COT Book 6 ends up being too long for just four chapters...
Book 6 will be a perfect length, not too short and not too long. Four chapters, one a little long, one a little short.

... and now, the conclusion

Chapter 23 is now finished, and is the longest chapter of the story. The Pages of History. It's just a hair longer than chapter 3 was, at 28K words and some change. Chapter 3 was so long because it acted as the big introduction to the Thief universe for readers who have never played or heard of Thief. 23 on the other hand just needed alot of space to wrap things up to my satisfaction. All of the sections are fairly short, from 500 words to no more than 3K words (though most tend to be under 1K) so we bounce back and forth between the principals very quickly. Sheam gets the most page time of course (about 1/3rd of the chapter), given that her plot's climax was absent from 22. There's still a few lingering things left hanging at the end of this chapter to keep it feeling too much like the very last pages of the book, so I am not going to flake out and say to heck with 24 even though I could easily end the story here.

I've kept a copy of the original COT at the bottom of my main rewrite document (as tiny black text) and delete things from it as the rewrite overtakes it. There's still a few sections of tiny black text that haven't been removed yet.

I'm going to take a break before continuing though, probably saving the finish line for this weekend. I expect Chapter 24 to be fairly short.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

.. slowing down

I had really wanted to finish 23 tonight. I have just run out of steam though. It's at 21K words and there's still a good deal of ground to cover, and I don't want to try to write it while being simply exhausted.

One of two things will happen. I'll go to bed and pass out and then know that I really needed sleep, or I'll go to bed and feel wide away within an hour, at which point I will resume.

Monday, June 1, 2009

... emotionally dense

Emotionally dense is one way to describe Chapter 23, and that's probably why I am finding it so difficult to write! There's another reason - I find myself constantly needing to go back to earlier chapters to look up something I wanted to get the facts straight on. In tying up loose ends, it's often good to be clear on exactly what was loose about what ends.

I'm 12,000 words into it, which is probably half-done. There's still a great deal on the outline sheet that hasn't been grayed out, most of which is the harder stuff to put into words.

I find myself going back and forth from one section to the next, tweaking, fiddling, adjusting, adding, changing, on and on. It's expected, though. The ending is always the biggest challenge.

Edit: Close to 16K and calling it quits for the night!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

... outline, coffee, quiet

The outline for 23 is ready. I have peace and quiet for the next 8 hours or so (it's 1 am) and a cup of coffee. My schedule for the next few days is wide open. Let's finish this sucker.

(23 will be officially the end of the story, like the original's 25. The rewrite's 24 will be an epilogue. The original also had an epilogue, but it wasn't given a chapter number or title.)

Because I like comments and I never get them, I'll ask a question. For the epilogue chapter, which minor or side characters would you like to see a segue about, to know what happens to them after the story is finished?

... the hump has been cleared

Chapter 22, the big climax of the entire story, called No Name by the Tongue of Man, is finished (1st draft). I almost had it done in two days, but near the end of the second day I decided I need to step back, think about for it a bit, do a revision of everything I had written, and to have this chapter go a little long but wrap up the main action and not drag the end of the climax into the start of 23, only to have the rest of 23 be wind-down. At first I was not feeling very good about how things were turning out, but after the revision and finishing the chapter, I am feeling quite satisfied.

In fact the whole thing came together much more tightly than I had thought, making this hardly an over-long chapter at just under 23K words, which actually makes it shorter than 21. There were many things I could have easily drawn out, but in the interests of keeping things moving, the writing is fast-paced and focused.

There's still a great deal of things to wrap up in 23, not the least of which is Sheam's plotline, which was totally absent from 22. It wasn't just a matter of the tone being completely different. Every event in 22, from Nightfall to Ghost to Lytha to Jyre to James, was connected, but Sheam's plotline by its very nature is not connected to the others - she's the one facing what's going on at the home turf while everyone else is out on their adventures.

I think fans of the original will be happy between the balance I struck between honoring what they remember while also keeping them in suspense. There's shades and echos and mirror images of nearly everything that went on in the old story, but everything plays out a little differently, in a different order, and with some wildly different results.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

... gestate

Normally when I finish a chapter, no matter how rough it is or now self conscious I feel about it, I send it right off to my critics and await their feedback. This time, on the other hand, I hesitate. I am extra self conscious over this one because, even though the final action of the story is spread over this chapter and the next as well, most of the biggest events of the entire story happen in 22. It has both some of the weirdest stuff and some of the thiefiest stuff in the entire book.

As mentioned in the previous post, I think one of the cooler things is that finally the events described by each principal are directly linked to one another, and what happens to each character and what each character does has a big impact on what is going on with the others (well, with one exception...).

So the plan now is to go over 22 word by word and do a revision, though since I technically am not finished with the 1st draft yet I am not counting it as a revision, merely a continuation of the writing process. Who is keeping track, anyway? In other bad news, the outline for chapter 23 is in pretty rough shape, and my family is expecting out of town company again next week, so I won't have much time to write. Taff!

Friday, May 29, 2009

... this is what they call a climax

Were human hands designed to type 10,000 words in one night? Mine don't seem to happy about it.

Everything seems quite on track. I have about half of what I had planned for 22 written, and am right at the 10K word mark, which is telling me that I'll be able to wrap this story up without going on and on and on like I feared.

22 is being written old-style again, where everything is done in order and I finish a section before going on to the next one. I need to for this one, because much of what happens in one section is built off what happened in the previous one, and helps me decide some things about the next one after it. The widely divergent activities of the six principals over the previous book are beginning to impact one another.

In other news, I moved one section from chapter 20 into chapter 21, because chronologically it happens a few hours into 21. When I first wrote it I felt like it needed to be on "paper" before wrapping up 20, but now that it's been moved it does feel right as part of 21. It more neatly contains Ghost and Lytha's adventure at Soulforge inside Chapter 21 (which is continued in 22) and also lets 20 end with a little more bang.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

... that's a wrap (rap?) on 21

Chapter 21, With Breaths Held, is now finished, clocking in at just under 22 thousand words. The title is probably temporary, as it's pretty generic and a bit cliche, so I am sure that I'll come up with something better later. Given how much I was able to pack into this one, I don't think that going over-long will be a problem anymore.

Just goes to show, sometimes when writing the outline I can't seem to figure out how to make the events flow naturally, but when I am actually writing the chapter it all seems to come together and make sense.

We're now at about chapter 24 of the original, and though the rewrite's 21 bears little resemblance to the original's chapter 23, the final sections directly correspond to one another. In fact, I probably could have cut and pasted it verbatim into the rewrite. (I didn't though.)

One slight problem I am running into is cronological slip. Nearly half of Chapter 21 takes place before the final events of 20. I am not sure if I should worry about that or not... probably not. I could try editing it up later to put things in perfect chronological order and see how I like it, but right now I am happy with the way things are.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

... about game design

One last note before I resume work on 21. Soulforge is the first in-game location that I did not at least consult and at most follow to exacting detail. Simply put, I find the level design of that mission to be an incomprehensible mess, which bears no relation to any form of sense. Most of T2's level design was very good at giving a "sense of place" as they say in the architecture world. Soulforge felt like a video game level. SO, expect some time spent in those holy halls, but don't expect it to be anything like what it was in the game.

Oh, and I know that the "ending" poll isn't close yet, but I can spoil it by now. The new ending will very much honor the original, but I still intend to keep the fans guessing until the very end.

... beginning of the end

The majority of Chapter 21 is now written, with just a few more scenes to go, best left to a time when I am not grossly underslept.

To my surprise a very big scene with Lytha turned out to not only be something I am quite happy with, but an excellent continuation of her character arc beyond what, in Book 4, could have been the end of her story. (Not to mention a big plot thread introduced early in the story finally coming to a head.) It's essentially the 'big moment' of Chapter 21 that leads directly into 22. Did I mention that I am writing out of order now?

James is proving difficult, but in a good way. He's a unique challenge, due to his character's sytle of having a much more dense internal monologue than any of the others. This is needed since he's facing the pure unknown, and the reader will probably appreciate having an expert analyst along to figure things out with them.

Jyre is mostly an observer this time, which had given me a chance to flesh out some of the minor characters I really wanted to get some quality time with. Unexplectedly, I stumbled upon a very natural way of progressing the plot with her in a direction that I had recently given up on because I, well, couldn't find a natural way of doing it.

Ghost is really enjoying being away from Lytha. By that I mean he hates being away from her, but I am enjoying writing him being away from her. After four chapters of them being joined at the hip, it's refreshing to write a Ghost scene that doesn't have its tone colored by Lytha's dramatic hues.

I was afraid that with all of the high-level stuff going on with the other five principals, Sheam's stuff would be a boring drag in comparison. After writing some of it, I think it makes a refreshing intermission from all of the Goddesses and Alien Beings and Serious Spirital Contemplation, and gives the reader something they can relate to on a much more down to earth level.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

... book covers

I contacted some artists today to try to get the team ready to do the cover images. I already have Dominus and Ireth Kalt, and to my great surprise redface was very happy to accept the task. I am still waiting to hear from Silmuen, Tazio, and Julia, but if everyone can do one that takes care of the six images.

I haven't decided yet what the six covers will be, except for the first one (which Dominus is already working on) that will feature Jyre climbing the tower in the opening chapter. I am a little torn between two ideas; having each cover focus more on the contents of that volume, or having them focus entirely on a pivotal moment for that character no matter where in the story the scene falls. I started a new poll - but if you're reading this note that the third option is a lark. I have no desire to see movie-poster style covers for any of the books. :)

... for the back of the book

The City is a place of conflict, where technology and magic eek out an uneasy coexistence, where the religious and the occult vie for dominance, where crime and politics intermingle and corrupt everything within their reach.

Jyre had escaped from a life of servitude, holds a meager existence in the gutters, and seeks to right the wrongs of her past.

The nobility knew him as Lord Thresh, the church as Brother Daelus, but the underworld knew him as Master Nightfall.

To Sheam it was a simple job, cataloguing, managing schedules, turning a blind eye to the criminal intent behind it all.

No one had ever broken into the sacred tomb before, but no one held so little regard for their own preservation as Ghost.

She stole, and had never been caught. Lytha lived apart from the world, yet could feel every thought and feeling around her.

James loved coffee, baked potatoes, and knowledge; especially knowledge cherished by others as secrets. His spies rarely failed.

Six stories tied together by chance and circumstance, between the belching factory towers and the haunted hidden grottos, between the clutching fist of the church, and the conniving fingers of the criminal underworld.

... the only way I can work

Thursday, May 21, 2009

... do we really care about length?

No progress yet on the last four chapters, but I am starting to wonder if it can be done in four chapters. That's why I've started the new poll. Go vote!

Monday, May 18, 2009

... the final push

As it happens sometimes, I don't have the next three chapters divided into chapters. I know how I am going to do the very last chapter, but for the climax of the story it's really hard to chop it up. The outline for finishing the story is getting downright fleshy, which means I think I will be ready to start writing soon. One thing I am looking forward to is getting Ghost and Lytha separated again, since it can be hard to decide which scenes to write from whose point of view with them being glued to eachother for the entirety of Book 5. The climax is planned, with a few big holes in it still of the variety I can usually work out as I am writing, the epilogue is planned, and the "how did each character grow or change?" statements have been drafted, so I can keep my eye on them and make sure I properly represent those ideas to the reader. Like I said to a friend of mine (who wants to read it but wants to wait until it's in book form) ... I am going for somewhere between a Disney ending and Nihilism, which is sort of like saying the color is somewhere between infrared and ultraviolet. I tried to craft an ending for each character that is both satisfying and a "new beginning" in a way that doesn't demand a sequel (i.e. no big cliffhangers, but it's made clear that life will be going on for everyone.... or will it?)

I don't know how much writing I will be getting done over the next week, there's some stuff going on, some good, some bad, but I will keep plugging away at the outline and polish it up. It surprises me how fast I can go from "no idea" to "this works great" really well when I sit down with no distractions. Also, when taking a shower.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

... for Circle guests, only

Anyone remember this?

I updated it. Can you belive there were dozens of spelling and grammar mistakes on that page? It was also really poorly written, and I think a little insulting to Alex, James, Beate, and Steve. I hope they weren't offended. I don't think it offered much hope for the rewrite... three whole years ago. I think the new version is better. It's only accessable through The Circle's fan-novels page, so it will only be read by taffers going after some fictions, not by the forum goons.

So, are there other questions I should be answering there? Also, I really do wish Helen Vesper was actually a real person and not a name I made up on the spot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

... poised, ready to spring

Whew. Chapter 20 is done. Alliances and Betrayals. Book 5 is done. Book 5 is also the longest book, at over 100,000 words. None of the chapters in it are overly long, but it has some very long segues, most over 2000 words.

What can I say? As I already mentioned, the goal of 20 was to get everything poised on the verge of the climax. For every character that means something a little different. For Nightfall, it means facing the consequences of a choice he made. For Jyre, it means her journey coming full circle. For Ghost and Lytha it means facing the aftermath and side effects of their turmoil. For Sheam, it means pushing ahead in site of a worst case scenario. For James, it means realising that one can become hopelessly out of one's league.

As my critics may note, Chapter 20 is extremely rough. When doing revisions, I usually have the luxury of many months of additional experience in order to boost my writing ability and refine a chapter based on a better understanding of what's coming ahead. Well, Book 5 will get the last part, but there isn't going to be much going on to boost my writing ability in the next 90,000 words of Book 6. For the last book, a revision will be even harder, and I will have to rely more and more on the input of my critics.

I have two confirmed yeses for cover artists, and one strong possibility, with a few others who I plan to ask if one of the three artists I have either can't do two covers or can't do even one. I'd like to have fewer artists rather than more, so that the styles won't be too far all over the place (the three I have all possess very, very different styles). I've also started thinking about proofreaders. It would be perfect to have six, and assign each to two books. How could I find six proofreaders who don't mind not being paid, though?

In case anyone is still keeping track, this point in the rewrite very, very loosely lines up with around Chapter 23 in the original.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

... making haste

As far as the word count is concerned, chapter 20 is nearly half done. I think this may end up being the longest chapter in the story though (can it be longer than chapter 3?) since I am definitely not half done with the content that 20 needs to have. My goal is to reach a very specific point with 20, to go into Book 6 with all gears turning, with the plot spiraling into the climax. The aim is then to have the major action finished by 22, leaving two chapters for epilogue, for a total of 24 (and the original story had 25 chapters... huh!).

Monday, May 11, 2009

... a chapter after all

Chapter 19 congealed into a chapter far better than I had hoped, eventually coming together under the title Hosts and Hospitality, which applies to all four plot threads present. It is mostly driven by Sheam and Ghost who have semi-self contained and extremely important adventures which begin and end within the chapter, and are told bit by bit as we switch back and forth between them, with an occasional visit to James and Nightfall, who are both continuing the paths they began at the start of Book 5. Only Jyre is absent from Chapter 19, with part of Ghost's adventure being told from Lytha's point of view, who is with him the entire time. James meets a character often talked about but so far unseen, and helps me make up for all of those cute Ultima Underworld references I had cut from the story. Nightfall on the other hand gives a brief nod to nostalgia with a small touch which hearkens back to the original, in a story that increasingly resembles the original less and less. Sheam meets a collection of minor characters which I suspect many readers did not think they would see again, especially not all within the same chapter. As for Ghost, we may just learn his most closely guarded secret.

Additionally, I solved a problem I was having with James, being that a lack of a personal conflict for the character weakened his integrity as a principal. I have developed that inner conflict, and have evolved his adventure to take full advantage of it. This separates his path even farther from the other principals, which is what was needed, giving him his own set of goals, needs, fears, and possibilities of failure.

Amusingly, sometimes I like to check on the fraction of the entire story each principal represents. I discovered that Jyre, Lytha, Ghost, and Sheam all sit at around 17/16% of the total (in that order from high to low), with Nightfall having a much larger chunk and James a much smaller chuck - but if you average out Nightfall and James, both come to 16.5% ... I wonder how I managed to balance it out so evenly.

... hi?

So, is anyone still reading this? I think I'm going to need to tell a few people that I am updating again... but who is IrregularJelle? :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

... each in turn

I discovered that an advantage to having most of the rest of the story planned out (rather than just the next chapter) is that I can change my writing method to skip around. Normally I have a section that I need to write because it's what comes next in the plot, and I don't let myself do anything else until I can get it out... which could take months. What I am doing differently now is that I have six documents, one for each principal, and I keep switching between them. I'll write about a thousand to two thousand words in one, or until I reach the end of a section, and then I'll switch to another character, do the same, and won't return to one of them until I have written something for all six. The only limit on this is Lytha and Ghost, who are sticking together at this point, and some scenes I want to write from Ghost's POV and some from Lytha's, and I don't want to write things out of order. The result is that chapters 19 and 20 are being written at the same time, with 19 more than half done now, and 20 a few thousand words in. I hope to be finished with them both, and thus Book 5, by the end of this week. Book 6 will be the end of the story, and may or may not be four chapters, depending on how much space I need to tell all that needs to be told.

The other method that is working well is moving out to the garage-turned-studio to write, totally isolated from the internet and any distractions. As a bonus, that room has a separate air conditioning system from the rest of the house (the whole house has five air conditioners... yay Florida!) which mean I can make it so much cooler than my own room. Thus, I really like being out there. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

... on theft, and, technique

One thing that constantly bothers me about both the plot to CoSaS and to COT is that for something with Thief in the title, my characters don't do very much actual stealing. I always wonder how to reconcile this, and always come back to the idea of writing about one of the six principals actually trying to steal something not only doesn't work well with the plot, but is seems like it would be lazy writing. It seems like it would be throwing this deeper into fanficcyness and come off as gamey.

As some of you know, I alternate in my writing style between writing "chapters" and writing "the story". When I write "chapters" I have a particular chunk of the big plot I focus on and it is composed in a mini-arc according to a given theme. When I am writing "the story" there is no mini-arc, just events which play out as they must, without me composing them into a neat chapter-like package that will span 20-25 thousand words. As a result, these tend to go on much longer, sometimes to nearly 40 thousand words, because without the clear arc or theme, I don't know when to stop! What usually happens is that after it's all written, I will edit the content into chapters and then come back in a revision and edit it even more into mini-arcs. Those who were reading the blog months ago may remember when I revised some chapters that didn't seem to work by splitting them into two chapters, maybe at the expense of chronological storytelling. I have a feeling that chapters 19 and 20 are going to be like this. After completing the outline for 19, which was going to focus on James, Sheam, and Ghost, I realised that I had far more in it than will probably fit into one chapter, and that if I went that far ahead with each of those characters, then it will have been too long since we've seen Nightfall and Jyre (Lytha is with Ghost so it doesn't hurt her as much). The solution? Work on The Story, not on A Chapter, and edit it into Chapters later.

Monday, May 4, 2009

... a new chapter

I just finished Chapter 18. Sometimes when finishing a chapter I am as surprised as the readers about how it turns out, but this one was fairly by the numbers, given that I've had months to tinker with the outline of it without actually writing anything. So, I had the entire thing pretty much mapped out point by point without much deviation. Some, but not much. The only surprise is that I actually finished it! Some parts turned out great, other parts I will need to whack steadily with the revision hammer for months to come, but hey, it's a first draft, and even the good parts will be revised.

The title of the chapter is Guests in Alien Realms, which is taken directly from the original, but it's as far from the original as anything I've written so far. It puts Jyre, James, Ghost, Lytha, and Nightfall all in unlikely situations that they were not at all prepaired for, even though they were certain that they knew exactly what to expect. (Ghost is in it, but only told from Lytha's point of view.) It includes a scrap I had actually written nearly a year ago, inserted nearly verbatum into a scene I had long imagined but finally was able to completely illustrate.

Finally, I've included the name change I had been planning for Nightfall for a long, long time now. He's still called Nightfall, but his real name is now completely fictitious, rather than being a distortion of my own name. I am not going to say it here, yet. I'd rather my critics judge it in context. (On the other hand, it doesn't matter what they think, since I am not going to be changing my mind about this topic!)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

... nothing new

I recently had the chance to do nothing but be alone with my laptop with no internet access. Yet, I could not bring myself to write anything. On the one hand the atmosphere was all wrong. On the other hand... could it be that I find that I have planned next for the story is ... tedious and boring?

I don't know. It's the logical progression of everything that's come before. It seems silly to add some strange twist because I am bored. And yet, if I am bored... won't the reader be too?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

... fresh perspectives

I got my first lump of feedback from a new critic today. He pointed out three issues.

The first is with the opening narration. He says that this is fine for a pulp fantasy novel, but for literature it should be avoided. Not a problem per say, but with the way the story is written it seems to deserve a less cliche opening.

The biggest problem he had was with Ghost's humor.

His personality doesn't really feel consistent to me; sometimes he's rational and cold-blooded, but sometimes his internal monologue is too silly, too self-deprecating; it breaks the immersion for me. I think having a sarcasting internal monologue is good, but he goes too far, and combined with the repeated bumbling/falling down/etc, it seems more like slapstic comedy than anything else. It ruins the tension, but isn't funny enough to be comic relief, really.

Sounds like I need to do another revision.

He had the most to say about Nightfall though, and the confusion, contradictions, and otherwise obscurity (not in a good way) of the character's presentation. I couldn't find anything I disagreed with. Oie, more work!

Friday, March 6, 2009

... wheee, new poll

Not much to say other than that I may have gained a few new critics. That might spark me into some progress... but dromed's hold on me right now is pretty firm. I added a new poll - now VOTE!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

... on hold? stalled? dead?

Time to fill in this blank.

I moved. I created an online cv/portfolio for my game design job hunt. I learned UnrealEd and 3dsMax. I resumed work in dromed. I have not been working on COT.

I am a little discouraged about it, thinking again that I don't really know what would make all of the work I've done worth it. I don't even really know what worth it would mean. I continue to grapple with the "fanfictions ought not to be written" concept versus the "this isn't really a fanfiction, it's something else" fantasy and the "I am really only doing this for practice and experience" excuse. On top of it all is the higher truth that I don't need to pretend this is something it isn't, I don't need to justify it to anyone, and I wouldn't have already spent so much time on if if it wasn't worth it to myself merely writing it. Noone will read it who doesn't actually want to and the only ones who will ridicule it will be the ones who don't actually want to read it.

It all comes back to Daneel Todulem. I am going to change the name. The question is... am I changing it because I think I should, or because I want to? The truth is that I like the new name I came up with more than that name - but is it honest to do so? Why pretend that this is something it isn't? Why disguise it? Will it make the story more accessible to people if they do not believe that one of the six main characters is "played by" the author? Maybe it will.

I also can't forget this truism: you can only be at your best when you're taking yourself the least seriously.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

... who do you want to see?

I've been putting off this offer for a while now, because I am too indecisive about who I want to see. An artist whom I have worked with extensively has offered to do sketches of COT characters, on the basis that this would be concept art, and not fan art. (This means that her work would then become what that character actually looks like, and reflected in either the remaining chapters or revisions if they happen).

I am still indecisive, so I'll ask my (probably only three) blog readers. Who would you like to see?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

... poll results on the pole

Looks like two polls have expired in the mean time. The first makes it clear that most of the people here (a whopping five of you) think that scenes set in OM locations are good for the story. Well, that's good, because there's a bunch of them!

The second poll about loose ends was split 2/2 between what would essentially be a COT2 that was a "second season" and a COT2 that is a sequel. (The third option would have been more like COT2 as a spin-off). Even though it's a tie, it sounds like most people don't want things wrapped up in a neat little bow. Well, I can promise you that, but because I have no idea if or when I'll do COT2, there's no way I am going to leave anything big unfinished at the end of COT.

Any ideas for a new poll? There's only two votes for the last open one. I don't think anyone reads this blog anymore.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

... writer's block?

I took a break from writing for about two and a half weeks. More? I don't know. Having a hard time getting back into it. Ugh.

Supplemental: Okay, I managed to finish up the section I had stopped in the "middle" of. Now let's see if I can write the next section... one thing at a time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

... into the unknown

After too many days of banging my head and two crashes resulting in lost work, the first section of Chapter 18 is finished. It picks up right where 17 left off, with James and Jyre, because (you should know this by now) I find cliffhangers to be a rather dull and cheap tactic. Chapt 17 sort of ended in one, so I decided the first thing I needed to do was continue that, rather than force the reader to spend several hours with another character before finally getting it. I don't know how anyone else feels about it, but I begin to resent some characters when an author chooses to switch to what they're up to at the very moment when the one we had been following for the last chapter has become extremely interesting.

Chapter 18 has the dubious honor of mirroring events that were cut from the original COT, only to end up (probably) being read far more than COT actually was. I am talking about the excerpt that was included in Thumper's Guide to the Strange and Unusual. I edited it out of the original because I felt that it contained too many direct and obvious references to the work of H.P.Lovecraft, a nod to the Cthulhu statue seen in the original mission, The Lost City. (The authors for James and Jyre were both fans.) I felt it appropriate to include in the rewrite because of its probably infamy as part of the guide, the fact that I've now read some Lovecraft and actually know what it's all about, and because it was one of the few parts of James and Jyre's adventure where something actually happens. Of course, don't expect it to go anything like it does as seen in the strange and unusual guide.

The Ultima Underworld references, on the other hand, I did without.

Friday, January 9, 2009

... can I write something new, now?

After two heavily edited sections, one totally new one, and two new segues, I think this last back of revisions is actually done. This one was a bit unusual... before all of the revisions were to bring the older chapters up to date with the facts, and quality of the later chapters. In this case it was to outright change the way something happened, and introduce some totally new ideas that (while they don't come out of left field, it's still an organic progression) I decided I wanted to introduce earlier in the story.

I'm really tired.

Oh yeah, and with these revisions, the story actually broke 400,000 words. Scary.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

... more revisions, meh

I haven't been able to get much work done this week, and I don't think that's going to change, due to some family affairs. I intend to take a hiatus from civilization after this, which should let me entrench myself in some thiefy atmosphere and a writing mood. I hope.

As I mentioned in the last post, the side effect of outlining the final chapters has been more revisions. Again, it has to do with Sheam (go figure?) but this time it's because I need to change a small aspect about what happens at the end of Chapter 16, which was shoehorned from the start, seemed forced during the revision, and in retrospect while planning the next chapters, simply doesn't work. On the other hand I am taking this opportunity to do more work on the chapter in general, as benefited from a new understanding of where the story is going, as only finally writing it down in an orderly fashion can generate. It won't be a huge change or an addition, just a bit of a smoother transition into new territory we need to get into, and a chance to visit with a character who was mentioned and described in great detail, but I realised was impossible to meet without having him make an appearance sometime before chapter 18. He's much more pertinent to COT2, but I've decided that making a big deal about something (or someone) only to never hear about it again is probably a bad idea - especially if it's just a setup for something in COT2.

Also, and embarrassingly, I've finally corrected all the times where I mistakenly called Othello "Oberon". I can see how that would be confusing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

... going back to go forward

As I was deciding what to put into the final chapters today I wound up adding two new sections to previous chapters. I hadn't wanted to do more revision, but I found that there were some things that needed to be in (not events, but character development type scenes) which I did not want to put into the final chapters - they needed to be dealt with much earlier in the story. The end result was a new rather long Sheam section in Chapter 12, and a new segue before chapter 14. Sometimes you need to go back in order to go forward.

Blah blah blah.

... concerning finishing

While the actual writing of the end of the story is still many weeks away, I am trying to outline the concluding chapters, which means that I have a pretty good idea of how the story is going to end (one would only hope, right?). The pole about multiple endings is drawing to a close, with most people interested in separate, personal endings for the six characters, though not necessarily symmetrical endings. Of course, the plan is to not actually tell anyone what the plan is for the ending.

I started up a new poll, concerning what is to come. Since COT2 is what inspired the rewrite to begin with, it seems logical to assume that COT2 is in the cards. Of course, as long as I am not getting paid for this, nothing is set in stone - but it's still worth thinking about. Basically, it comes down to this. Even if I never write a COT2, the "lives" of the characters and the world they live in will go on after the final chapter of COT is set in stone. The plot for COT2 has been decided for years, and though it's changed dramatically because of the rewrite (as was the point of the rewrite to do so) in essence it's there. The one thing I haven't decided yet is how heavy-handed to be with that thought. Personally I can't stand it when the last thing an author does (this goes for scriptwriters too) is tack on a cliffhanger to let everyone know that Part 2 is on the way. That's worse than simply not ending it at all. Horrible. So don't worry - I am not going to do that. So I am avoiding the two extremes of a non-ending / tacked-on-cliffhanger versus the complete-closure / everyone-dies / the-epilogue-tells-us-how-each-character-lives-the-rest-of-their-lives thing. Where the ending will fall in the middle of that is yet to be seen, and something that blog-readers are invited to comment on.

Friday, January 2, 2009

... need non-taffers

I'd like to finally get some feedback on the story from people who have never even heard of Thief. Optimally though, I'd like for them to not know me, either. Chances are if you're reading this, you either know me or know Thief, but maybe you know someone who knows neither, but they love to read fantasy and don't mind doing it at the computer. Anyone?

... segue to segues

One thing I didn't do while doing the revision was completing all the segues, the inter-chapter mini-sections which tell things from the point of view of a mini-character observing a minor character (there are some exceptions, where segues are told from sub-principal characters!) in order to flesh out plot elements which would otherwise be completely hidden from the reader (since we're tied to the observations of the principals).

They're not easy, because they have to...
  • Be told in around 300 - 1000 words.
  • Involve a snippet of story that isn't involved in the plot-flow around it.
  • Deal with and rely on characters the reader may never have met (and will never).
  • Still need to fit in with the framework and tone of the chapters around it.
  • Actually provide some relivant information.

So even though they're short, writing the segues was just as hard as writing chapters. Crazy!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

... the breakdown

Want some pie? 'Course you do!

The numbers are all 'words' (according to MSWord2007) and the pie chart shows what percentage of the story is told from which character's point of view (excluding the segues) with the bar chart showing the chapter lengths. The only surprising thing is that Lytha, Jyre, and Ghost are all so evenly divided.

Chapter length looks slightly top-heavy, with the earlier chapters tending to be longer and the later ones tending to be shorter. Again, I think this can be attributed to the 'world building' done early in the story that isn't as abundant later. As you can also see, a good number of the segues (red bars, shown as ... in the chapter list) haven't been written yet.