Class Notes: The Stumble

-September 26th, 2012

First and foremost, this week I’d like to recognize two people who posted on the Pinnacle Forums earlier this week – Corwyn and Patrick. Your support couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you!

Unfortunately, the reason I so desperately needed your encouragement was because I got sick shortly after last week’s Class Notes. I’d been fighting a cold all last week, then Thursday I took a nosedive. By Saturday I was diagnosed with secondary sinus infection and given antibiotics but it wasn’t until yesterday that I really started feeling better. Needless to say, my health wasn’t the only thing to take a nosedive. This past week my writing sprint  turned into a sprawl, or as my father-in-law would say, I “started, stumbled, farted, and fell.”

So thank you again Corwyn and Patrick for your encouragement. It’s a good feeling to know that people are still interested in Degrees of Horror, ’cause sometimes I can’t help but wonder. I aim to hit my writing goal tonight and get my momentum back. The original 30 day goal is probably blown, but my sprint resumes.

Class Notes: Week 2 Sprint Results

-September 19th, 2012

It’s been two weeks since I started my “sprint to the finish” on the last 60 pages of Degrees of Horror. What do I have to show for it? Well, lessee… Hmm. I’ve managed to whittle down from 60 pages to 54 pages remaining. Wait a second. That’s shameful! That’s less than a page every two days, which was the exact opposite of 2 pages/day I was shooting for.

…EXCEPT! In the same amount of time the overall manuscript page count has grown by 16 pages; the word count by 5,500 words. This reflects my job in this chapter, which is essentially turning lengthy plot seeds into fully realized Savage Tales. Maybe a better gauge of my progress is simply counting the number of Savage Tales I’ve finished and how many remain? Using that measuring stick, I’m halfway through the chapter. Considering I’ll still have to tackle the chapter on characters and creatures, I probably really am behind where I hoped to be when I announced the sprint. Still, I can’t help but feel really good about the work I’ve done so far. The Tales are coming along much faster than the plot points did since I don’t have the “overhead” of keeping track of what came before and what comes after. These are just fun, scary adventures centered around college life.

That being said, sprinting is hard. It’s not a pace I can keep up forever. I still have a day job, which means I work all day, come home to the family, and then work on writing at night. Since starting the sprint I’ve mostly abstained from reading, watching tv or movies, or just about anything other than writing.1 That’s okay for a while, but the new Dresden Files book comes out in late November and it will be mine. Sorry, friends. A man has to have priorities.

  1. …with the exception of Facebook. I still spend entirely too much time there.

Class Notes: Week 1 Sprint Results

-September 12th, 2012

Last week I announced that I had only 60 pages remaining to reach the end of the revisions for Degrees of Horror. I set a goal of completing 2 pages a day so that I would finish the revisions in one month. Here were are now a week later and I’ll bet you’re wondering how it went. Both of you.

One thing that I hadn’t counted on was how much I’m adding to each Midnight Tale. Ed’s tales seem to be averaging 3-4 paragraphs and focus mostly on background/setup, letting the GM take it in whatever direction she wants. If these were plot seeds then that would be perfect. Unfortunately, since the idea is to give you adventures that you can prep and play in 15 minutes, the Tales as written leave too much work up to the GM. Some of these really pain me to touch. Ed came up with outstanding adventure ideas that can be taken in many neat directions, depending on the makeup of the group and GM whim. It feels like I’m squeezing these awesome ideas down into a straightjacket. Hopefully you’ll still find the straightjacket fun.

Be that as it may, I’m taking 3 or 4 paragraph Tales and adding another page of detail to flesh them out. The result is that the page count has been growing instead of dwindling. The only positive thing I can add is that now that I’m working in a single document again, it’s a lot easier for me to jump forward to the NPC and Creature section and make adjustments there as well. One day I spent more than an hour distilling our entry on Ghosts, which started out nearly 3,000 words long and ended up less than half that. The end results of all my work over the last week is only a net gain of 6 pages closer to the end of the book. Not exactly what I had in mind when I announced the sprint.

Even so, I have to say that it feels good to really make progress. While I may not see that last page number getting closer as quickly as I’d hoped, hitting my 2 pages a day goal (most days) is still a satisfying feeling.

Under the circumstances I don’t think giving a daily page count or countdown will tell the whole story, so I’ll probably just stick with these weekly updates.

Class Notes: Sprint to the Finish

-September 5th, 2012

Ed and I have taken a long–and sometimes torturous–road to finish this game. In retrospect, the lack of hard deadlines merely enabled us to procrastinate. Degrees of Horror is a game that is literally years in the making, and quite frankly we need the closure.

I’ve looked at the remainder of the Degrees of Horror manuscript and I see that I have exactly 60 pages remaining. I may come to regret this, but I think it’s time to sprint to the finish. I am announcing a self-imposed deadline of 30 days from today to reach the end of the book. That’s two pages a day for the next month. The only downside is that obviously the Savage Tales are going to go slower than the NPCs and monsters. Still, I’m going to try my best to stick finishing at least two pages a day. No excuses.

I should also mention that reaching the end of the book is not the same as finishing it. For one thing, I still have to go back and finish up the last plot point. For another thing, Ed and I left each other notes throughout the manuscript with the intention of one another looking over what had been done and either approving the revision or putting in our own $0.02. I’ll have to make one last pass through the manuscript to finalize those changes. However, that’ll be a cakewalk in comparison.

I’ve been considering posting short daily updates here or on Facebook, but I don’t think I want to clog up the news feed. Maybe I’ll create a “work-o-meter” sidebar here on the site. That being said, feel free to pester me on Facebook and ask how the work is going. You really have no idea how reinvigorating it is when we hear  from Pinebox fans. Not only does it keep me honest, but it’ll keep me motivated as well.

Deep breath. Here goes.

Class Notes: Where Are We?

-August 22nd, 2012

Another Wednesday, another update. Right up front I’ll tell you I’m not done re-writing the final plot point. I’ve started seriously questioning the location for the last big battle. (GASP! He let slip a spoiler! There’s going to be fighting in the last plot point!) By changing the setting I could better align the climax with the tone of the rest of the game and the Pinebox setting in general. And honestly, changing the setting is easy. The problem is that once the setting changes, it creates of ripple of consequences for the circumstances under which  the heroes encounter and fight “the big bad guy”. It’s those changes that I haven’t reconciled yet. So either I plow ahead with the original (revised) idea or I keep brainstorming until I can come up with a way to proceed with the new (re-revised) coolness.

Actually there’s a third option, which is the one I may take tonight. This week marks the end of summer vacation and the return to teaching for my writing partner– the infamous Ed “Jackson Green” Wetterman. From a practical standpoint, that means he’s done working on Degrees of Horror for at least two or three months while he focuses on his classroom duties. While that’s certainly a bummer, it’s not without a silver lining. Now that I’m the only one working on revisions, I have the freedom to jump around and work on different parts of the book at will. When I get creatively stuck like I am at the moment, I can still be productive on another part while ideas percolate. In this case, tonight I may work on some of the Midnight Tales (our name for what Pinnacle more commonly calls Savage Tales). After trying to string together 12 adventures into a coherent whole, I’m pretty sure working on stand-alone tales is going to feel downright liberating.