It’s going to be a short blog today. I’ve just spent the last nine hours writing, so I’d like to look away from a screen soon. However, I’m thrilled with my progress and wanted to share.
I just finished (hopefully) the last bit of net new content for my novel. So now all I have left is another line edit, and it’s ready for beta-readers!
I know it’s been a long time coming, but it still feels good. If I keep to this pace, I might even finish this month! That would give me three months before NaNoWriMo. That might even be enough to finish up some of my other backburner work.
The army cheering me on is progressing as well. Here is a sneak peek at where I am with the base colors.
Is it pretty, eh? I need to finish this stage for the rest of them now before I start applying washes. Let’s hope it doesn’t dull that pretty pink.
I’m not sure how many of you are in my general geographical area, but I’m currently toughing through a bit of a heatwave. I’m not very good at dealing with the heat. I prefer to live at about 18 degrees Celsius, when things approach 40 I’m having a very bad time. It has been challenging to focus, and my writing progress has slowed down considerably. Even still, progress is being made.
I’ve almost finished the last of my net-new content, which will leave my book finished… in a manner. We all know nothing is very truly finished, and I’m still not ready to call this thing done. I want to give it one more full read-through. My focus for this edit will be buffing descriptions and removing filler words. The length is now perfectly respectable, so I won’t be adding anything that doesn’t in some way enhance the scene or reveal something about the characters.
After I’m done with that final polish, I’ll be ready to send it to beta readers. Then once I have worked through their notes, I’ll need to have it professionally edited. While this all sounds like a lot of work, it’s light on me, and I’ll be free to start something new!
To celebrate this next stage and give me some support through the process, I’ve picked a truly impressive writing partner: an entire army.
I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but that’s a whole army of wood-elves and sylvaneth (tree spirits). That should be enough minis to get me through this final push. The army will follow the same color scheme as the last dragon I painted as if the whole group comes from a cherry blossom forest.
With all that laid out, all that is left is the work, so I better get to it. I’ll leave you today with my proof of concept mini. I hope you like it.
She’s finished. Here is the new centerpiece for my wife’s Age of Sigmar Army:
I’m still working on the rider (I made two of the spines detachable, so it works either way), but this dragon will be the main attraction for Daeva’s mixed Wanderers (wood-elves) and Sylvaneth (tree-folk) army. I’m pretty pleased with it, and it pulls together the cherry blossom themes of the army nicely.
I know there is a specific mini for the woodelf forest dragon (I have it), but this mini in this color scheme spoke to me. The other mini looks good in green, so I’ll tackle that someday as a stand-alone project.
On the writing side, I have completed a rough pass for act 3. By that, I mean I have finished the most egregious grammar and spelling mistakes. That was roughly 1000 edits on its own. A solid week of work, but I’m not done yet.
This act needs a net-new chapter and then a chapter-by-chapter fresh coat of paint. I think that will take most of June. Then it’s on to a final chapter-by-chapter polish, and then I’ll be done. So my novel will probably be finished sometime in August, maybe September at the latest. It’s a lot of work, but I’m on track for my goals this year.
That means I will need more to paint. It’s a good thing I have a dragon who needs an army to run. This is going to be a rather large project, so stay tuned!
When we last spoke, I was working away on my editing and painting baby dragons. I only mentioned one, but I wanted to test out two paint schemes for the mother dragon. I wanted pink to be the contrasting color, but I wasn’t sure if the primary color should be black or white.
Here are the results of my testing:
While I like the white scheme better, I’m happy I painted the black one too. I think it is a fun miniature, and having both has gotten the wheels in my head turning. I now have an excellent premise for a multipart RPG session, but I’ll get into that more when I finish their mother.
In the meantime, I have more editing to do. That October deadline is fast approaching, and I have only just gotten into act 3. To get another draft finished in the next 5 months will be hard, but it looks to be doable. But after that, I’m done, and we can start talking about a new book!
Something I am noticing about my editing is I am adding in sensory descriptions naturally now. This is something I had to really work at. As a recap to any new readers, I spent about 5 years writing scripts before starting this blog. I’m a dialogue guy, and learning to write proper narration on the first draft was like pulling teeth. This process has made me a better writer and, fingers crossed, a faster one.
Today alone, I added 3 pages of new content while editing. This draft has added 25 pages so far, and I still have 10 chapters to edit. I’ve gone from having a short novel to having a pretty respectable one since Christmas. I’m pretty pleased with that.
Here’s hoping this newfound ease for narration carries into the next novel. If I can get a first draft done in November, it won’t take long before I have a second novel finished and ready for readers if it’s at my current standard. My short story collection is nearing 100 pages, and I have a half-finished book on the back burner as well. I could have a decent selection available to read relatively soon.
Fingers crossed, I stay on track. I could also get distracted by a new project!
As promised, I have finished constructing my new writing partner, and I must say, it is a majestic piece.
This miniature is Warhammer’s Prince Imrik, The Dragon Lord. Mind you, I think the dragon itself is the real showstopper.
I’ve neglected to glue Imrik down so that I can try to use it as a stand-alone dragon miniature as well. You might have noticed this in my other builds, but I like having options.
I have also grabbed one of wizkidz baby dragon minis to paint as well. This little welp will be used as a proof of concept for its much larger and much more expensive mother. I have a pretty neat paint scheme in mind, but I want to test it out first.
Those are the minis that just leaves the short story I mentioned. Well, that’s where this story takes a turn. The tale I was writing was inspired by a video essay I watched on haunted houses. You can find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mexs39y0Imw&t=964s. The idea of the house itself as the antagonist, that it is not haunted by something but has intent of its own, is really appealing to me. It has a similar bend to some of my previous work, and I’ve already thought of some exciting directions to take it.
I was working on this story last Saturday and had one of my best writing sessions in months. I hit flow state, and the prose just poured out of me. I honestly thought I was going to finish the first draft in one sitting. But then a scene popped into my head. It was grim and visceral in a way the rest of the story was not. This scene grew to eclipse the rest of the story, and beyond being horrifying, it was surprisingly moving. That was when I decided to stop writing.
You see, this new scene threw the whole project into flux. It was a complex character moment that needed at least 3000 words to itself. This meant I was no longer writing a short story; I was writing a new novel.
This leads to my final realization and also a reveal of sorts. You see, I had always intended on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. NaNoWriMo stands for the national novel writing month, and it takes place every November. You can find out more about it here: https://nanowrimo.org/about-nano. I have wanted to participate for years now, so I’m biting the bullet and jumping into a new work in November. That’s part of why I have been working so hard to get my current novel off my plate. I want to work on a new one soon! When I realized my ghost story was actually a novel and that I was excited to dive in, it seemed apparent that this would be my NaNoWriMo project for this year.
So there you go, that evening of writing established my goals for the rest of the year. First, finish my current novel by October. Then write a new fist draft in November, and have the second book written and edited before the new year. In short, I have a lot to do… so I guess I should get back to work.
When we left off with this latest batch of writing partners, we had a group of half-finished ghosts and skeletons but a completely finished writing project. Usually, I choose to stop painting at the end of a writing project, but these guys needed just a bit more work, as you can see below:
I wanted to finish them, but I knew they wouldn’t last for an entirely new project, short story, or otherwise. So I worked on my podcast instead!
My wife and I have been working hard on this project. We’ve been playing more games, collecting materials, writing blogs, and building up the website. It’s still a work in progress but take a look. Here is a link to our home page, https://heplayssheplays.ca/
Now back to the minis. Here they are in a “finished” state.
I’m trying to not let the perfect kill the good these days. While I’m working harder and harder on my editing, I also want to finish things. This last year has been my best year of writing. Beyond the hand full of pieces I had published, I think my overall standard is improving. I’m happy with all of my short stories and ecstatic about the progress with my novel. Part of that is taking my writing more seriously; the other is constantly setting and completing manageable goals like publishing at least one podcast a month or working on my rust effects.
I think these took longer than usual because there isn’t much of a consistent theme. I couldn’t apply any batch painting strategies beyond the most basic colors. This is also something we have found to be an issue with podcasting as well. Each recording has unique challenges. Maybe these will even out in time, but we have to apply very different strategies for more relaxed episodes like our first episode discussing our favorite video games or a more energetic episode like our Final Fantasy 8 Episode.
If these spooky ghosts are your thing, you should check out our spookier podcasts. You might like the Halloween Special or our extremely disrespectful breakdown of Supermassive Games (we love them, really). We primarily discuss RPGs, but I try to pepper in a bit of horror when Daeva allows it, haha!
The point I want to get across is to set realistic goals and stick to them. It really helps productivity. Also, if you like reading my blogs, you really should check out the podcast. It’s more a comedy show than an editorial or review podcast so give it a chance if you need something easy to unwind to.
In the next week or two, I want to build up the archival side of the website. These pages will make it easier to find content on particular topics and blogs and resources to pair with the podcast. I’ll make another post here when those resources are up.
Now, if none of this is your speed and you just want me to get back to writing and painting, you’re in luck. I’m currently working on a new short story and a really impressive writing partner. I’ll have a post of that up this week, but you all should be delighted with this one. Stay tuned.
It’s been a while. This edit of act 2 took longer than I expected. In the end, my writing partners did too. In fact, they aren’t finished…
See, they’re still a bit ugly. Not exactly ready for glamor shots.
However, as I was considering postponing this post again to finish them, I realized something. In their current state, these intrepid ghosts and skeletons are the best representation I have for where my book is at.
My book is complete, in so much as all of the content technically exists. Like these minis, it has been entirely constructed, all the primary colors are in place, hell, even some finishing work has been done. But they are still unpolished, like my book.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my book. I also know it’s 90% finished; I have way more work behind me now than ahead of me. But it’s at a stage where it just doesn’t show well, like these minis.
You see, there is this stage of any project where it looks its worst. It is a kind of uncanny valley for art, where it is so close to finished, yet still not, that it seems worse than it did when it was half-finished. At least, that’s how it always feels to me. The critical part of the work is pressing on and not getting discouraged by this phase.
I don’t usually post pictures of unfinished projects, but I think it will be helpful in this case. There is this illusion that great works come from the mind of a genius, that they flow effortlessly and are perfect when they are first born. That simply isn’t true. Now, I’m not saying I’ve ever written a great work, nor am I a genius, but I think that the myth of first draft success holds many people back.
I fear most people never finish their projects because they perfect when they first create them. They think that if it isn’t perfect, they just aren’t cut out for their art. The truth is, I have now spent twice as long editing this book as it took me to write the first draft. From what I can tell, that is relatively normal.
I myself have gone through quite a shift in the last year. It turns out I had no idea how to edit. I thought a bit of a spellcheck and some punctuation correction was all I needed. I was dead wrong.
Why anyone ever published my work before 2020 is beyond me. It turns out, editing time, while far less exciting, makes my stories considerably better. Back when I wrote reviews and essays, my editors must have hated me!
I can also confirm that it gets easier. My editing has gotten better and, dare I say, faster over the last year. I’ve learned to accept criticism with more humility, and I’m better at focusing and working through difficult passages. The next book will be even easier. I genuinely believe this.
My point is, don’t be scared of the ugly stage of the project. The step between the skeleton and polished is not pretty (in this metaphor, I suppose it’s still missing skin…) but it means you’re close to done. Push through the doubt and complete your art!
I just wanted to announce that season 2 of my podcast He Plays She Plays has just launched. You can check it out on our brand new website, heplayssheplays.ca.
For anyone new to the podcast, it is an audio journal my wife, and I use to record our experiences with videogames. It’s less about the games and more about the banter.
This season kicks off with a retrospective of our experiences with Bloodborne. Why now? Two reasons: the first is we’re playing through the PS5 Demon’s Souls remake, the second is we finally got our Bloodborne board game! We were all-in Kickstarter backers about two years ago now, and it has finally arrived.
Look at this:
This is easily a few years’ worth of writing partners.
I guess I’ll have to finish this book so I can move on to new projects! I may have a plan for that… but you’ll have to wait a few months before I unveil any of that.
This post has been a long time coming. I mentioned a few times that I was building a group of scary bois to paint while I edit the second act of my book. They took a long time, but here they are:
I have had this kit for a long time. It is the Allies box for the Nighthaunt faction. In other words, a small number of ghostly friends! I’m not even sure allies are still a thing in Age of Sigmar (AOS), but when they were I grabbed a few of them because I like having a little of each faction. This was before I got into Underworlds, perhaps even before the release of underworlds. Who knows. Time is weird these days.
As you can see, I haven’t made all the riders into hexwraiths (scythe wielding ghosts) and have instead made a few of them into black riders (skeleton bois). As I mentioned, I like variety. There is also a good chance these will never get used for an AOS game. This means having a full squad of one or the other doesn’t really matter.
I’ll have to paint these quick because I’m already well into editing this section of the book. I have been writing like crazy lately but I’ve been finding building minis to be a bit more fiddly than fun. It might just be a mood I’m in. Right now I want to paint and write. Sticking together pointy plastic doesn’t feel as rewarding.
Regardless, my fiendish friends are ready to help me finish off these chapters. Stay tuned for the results!
I managed to finish the two stories I was working on in time to submit them to their competitions. It was down to the wire, and if I’m honest they could have used more time, but I’m happy I pressed myself and finished. Better yet, that strange story I was working on in Writing Partner: Working With a Group, Part 2 has now been submitted to a contest as well. So I’ve started the year off running. I managed to get 2 shorts published last year; I want to at least double that this year. I think this is a good start toward that goal.
Next on the agenda is finishing this edit of my book. I’m still putting together the writing partners for this work, they are really fiddly, but I can’t wait to show them off! After that, it might be time for a professional editor to take over. I was thinking of using one of the resources on Reedsy for that but if any of you have experience in this realm, leave me a comment. Any information will help.
For now, though, I’m going to spend the weekend on my podcast. He Plays She Plays has been on hiatus for too long. Like everything else, I’ll give you a full update when we finish what we’re working on.