Writing Partner: Dragging this out

Warhammer Dragon Head

Hello all,

As promised, I have finished constructing my new writing partner, and I must say, it is a majestic piece.

Warhammer Dragon Miniature Prince Imirk

This miniature is Warhammer’s Prince Imrik, The Dragon Lord. Mind you, I think the dragon itself is the real showstopper.

Warhammer Dragon Miniature Unpainted

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.

WizKidz Baby Dragon Miniature

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.

Writing Partner: Repurposing Inspiration

Hello all,

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:

half finished warhammer ghosts and skeletons

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.

Skeletons and Ghosts Group shot

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.

Writing Partner – Nearly There

Hello!

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…

half finished warhammer ghosts and skeletons

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!

Writing Partner: Spiritual Assistance

Unpainted warhammer reaper mini

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:

Unpainted warhammer reaper mini
Unpainted Warhammer ghost mini
Unpainted Warhammer black knights and hexwraiths
Turns out these minis don’t photograph well when they are un-primed. Something to remember for next time.

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.

Unpainted Warhammer Hexwraith
Unpainted Warhammer Black Knight mini

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!

Writing Partner: Working With a Group, Part 2

Warhammer Underworld's Garrek's Reaver's Painted

Hello,

As I discussed in my last post, I took a break from my book to write a new short story. It was a weird one and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Well, I finished! It’s also turned out quite well. What’s more surprising is that this project’s writing partners turned out pretty nicely in their own right.

Warhammer Underworld's Garrek's Reaver's Painted

This crew of rowdy wildmen were good company while constructing my story. The Underworld’s line is always a joy to paint. Even this group, which is just a bunch of marauders, is surprisingly detailed.

Painted Warhammer Marauder
Painted Warhammer marauder

All the little scars and details really bring out the character in these minis. It’s like the small connective tissues of a story. A reference here, a flourish there. Scars showing old, aching wounds.

I’ve already found a contest to enter my new story in. It needs a bit more polish and I’d like to get a few more opinions on it before I can call it truly finished. But, it does mean I’ll be getting back to my book this weekend. That means picking a new writing partner. Act two of my book begins with a rather grisly revelation, I will need to consider that when making my decision.

Writing Partner: Working with a group

Hello all,

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m roughly one-third finished the current draft of my novel. It’s going surprisingly well, and the people doing the beta read have been giving me some great feedback. Part of this process has been working with a writing circle on fine-tuning my prose.

I’m not sure if I’ve brought this up before, but I took a break from prose prior to last year and was instead writing screenplays. Because of this, I’m a bit rusty when it comes to writing narration. It’s the natural side effect of focusing on dialogue for roughly 5 years.

Overall I’d say it’s going well. Each progressive chapter has fewer and fewer notes. I’ve been applying the comments as I go so the first 10 chapters are looking pretty polished.

As a reward to myself, I decided to take a break this week and work on a new short story. As usual, it’s a weird one. A strange combination of the occult stuff I tend to write and click-baiting, meme inducing, article titles. Because I suddenly had a new story on my hands, I proceeded to the next step. You know what it is.

I had to pick a writing partner. In this case, I wanted to work with the theme of the week and my new story’s themes. Teamwork, and the summoning of dark gods…

Meet Garrek’s Reavers:

Garrek's Reavers Unpainted
I started painting these before I realized I was going to write a blog about them. So credit to the following eBay post for the unpainted picture: Garrek’s Reavers.

Garrek’s Reavers, are a Warband from Games Workshop’s Underworld’s line. As such, they are easy to construct, affordable, and very detailed. I like these warbands because they are varied but still have a theme to pull the set together. In the case of Garrek’s Reavers, they are a group of chaos marauders who worship the god of war Khorne. Not an exact match to my story, but the team angle is what hooked me this time.

I have already finished priming them and adding the first coat of all the main colors. I did this while I outlined my short story. My job today is to fill out all the detail in both my story and this Warband. If the story turns out well, I might enter into a contest. As for the minis, I’ll show you the results either way. I never claimed to be a professional painter!

I hope to have this done soon, so expect an update in the coming days!

10 Chapters In

various painted gaming miniatures

Hello all,

I’ve finally finished editing the first act of my book. As expected, chapter 6 got the most work, but I honestly think this rough 100 pages is much better now. I’ll need to take a look at the second act and figure out where the problem chapters are so I can pick new writing partners.

However, let’s take a moment to look at the writing partners for the last section, the unusual suspects!

Here is what they looked like before:

assorted miniatures for D&D, Death May Die, and Warhammer

And here is how they turned out:

various painted gaming miniatures
They aren’t too bad, considering they each had their own challenges. Well, every one of them except the wizard.
Death May Die Wizard mini painted.
He was pretty easy to work with.

Working with a variety of minis from different companies at the same time really made certain features stand out.

For example, while this mini is big, I had to create most of the depth myself. It has a ton of flat areas with little texture.

Painted Wizkids demon mini.
He isn’t bad but some of the finer details are rough.

Meanwhile, shading and highlighting even a tiny games workshop mini was a breeze.

Games Workshop goblin. Painted AOS
Imagine, this guy was supposed to be a decoration for another mini!

The dwarf turned out fine, and the less I can say about the halfling, the better. However, overall I’m happy with them. I got a chance to play around with contrast paints, and they were just right for keeping myself busy while I brainstormed.

For the next section, I’m not sure if I should do another set of minis or paint one large one. I enjoy variety, but focusing on one mini does significantly improve the final product. I’ll just have to start working on the next few chapters and see where my muse takes me!

Writing Partner: The Unusual Suspects

assorted miniatures for D&D, Death May Die, and Warhammer

So I’ve finally finished redoing my previous chunk of editing and I’m ready to get back to fresh work. In the next tent-pole chapter, our protagonists will be at a location with all the principle murder suspects. In this edit/re-write, I’ll be focusing on emphasizing these suspects and strengthening red-herrings for the plot. Because of this, I have chosen to represent each character with a unique figure to paint. Introducing: the unusual suspects!

assorted miniatures for D&D, Death May Die, and Warhammer

Look at this lovely police line up! This diverse group of individuals may not all look like my characters, but they do a good job embodying them.

Lets start with this great wizard from the Cthulhu: Death May Die board game:

Wizard miniature from Death May Die

This wizard will represent a colleague of the victim and will provide unique insight into his profession work in alchemy. He will also allow me to talk about the amoral nature of science and discovery through the lens of magic. The figure itself is a great fit for my book, as it’s a fantasy book in an early modern setting. Death May Die has a 1920’s aesthetic which makes it a perfect fit for this kind of project. Not to mention the monsters in it are gorgeous; I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from this set in the future.

Next up is a fellow Goblin:

Goblin miniature from Warhammer Fantasy (AOS).

This is one of the ornamental Goblins from Feast of Bones Warhammer set we covered a while ago. Because it looked plain by itself, I added one of the Ogre daggers to its back as if it was a Goblin sized broadsword. I think it looks pretty cool like that. In the book, this character is an ex-lover of the victim and will give me a natural way to talk about Goblin culture without it seeming like exposition (though it is). I picked this mini specifically because of that accusatory finger point!

The Third suspect is an Elf. My Elves are not Tolkienesque and are instead diminutive fae-folk so I chose a halfling from the Wizkids D&D line:

D&D Halfling Miniature
This one is a little rough…

I find that the Wizkids minis are extremely good for their price, especially the large ones. The smaller minis are sometimes a tad half-baked. This little guy, representing the prime suspect, needs some serious work. I have mold lines and extra resin to trim and it’s lacking detail in a lot of places. What I do like about him, is that dagger and posture. Much like the character I’m writing, he is much more dangerous than he appears.

Our fourth suspect is a Dwarf crime boss:

WizKids Dwarf warrior, D&D miniature.

This miniature is also from the Wizkids line and has some of the same issues ad the Elf. It is probably the least fitting mini of this group but I’m trying to avoid kitbashing it for the sake of time, so I’ll try not to let it bother me. The character it represents is one of the main crime lords in the city and has many reasons to hate the deceased. But did they do it?

I saved the best for last. The final suspect is a Demon:

This Wizkids demon doesn’t look much like the demon in my story, but I think it is a great visual representation of its inner evil. I love the detail of this mini. In D&D, this is called a Nalfeshnee, which is a mid-tier demon. I like its pig face and tiny wings. It is almost a parody of grotesque excess, which is perfect for my character. I’ll need to close up some gaps in the model but otherwise this should be really fun to work on.

There you have it! A new group a minis for a new chunk of my book. Like last time, painting these will likely last longer than the work on this chapter. I’ll probably keep working on this for the next five or so chapters or until I hit another notable section of the book.

Work is starting to get back to normal so I’m hoping I can start posting more regularly again. I don’t like posting once a week as it really only leaves room for updates. Hopefully, some time soon I can post another Upping Your Game article. I have a good one in mind. We’ll just have to see how the rest of the month goes!

Writing Partner: A bit of Lost Time

Hello,

It’s been a couple weeks since we have discussed my writing progress. The truth is, that’s because there hasn’t been much. Two weeks ago as I was finishing my first big chunk of editing in the third draft of my novel the worst case scenario happened: my computer crashed while saving and the file corrupted.

All is not lost, with my wife’s help and a few hours of work we managed to recover most of it by reverting to a previous version of the file. Over all it was a huge relief, but I still lost 2 days worth of editing. The weekend after was Halloween and the day I was going to sit edit that weekend I found out The boneless had been published (check out the blog post here). After such good news I felt like I had done enough for my career that weekend and I have been making similar excuses ever since.

The truth is, I hate redoing work and the idea of spending hours editing the same chapters just isn’t motivating. I’ve also finished my writing partners for this piece and, up until the crash, I felt like this step was complete.

I had a group shot of these guys but I guess I deleted it… Irony.

So now I’m sitting here again today trying to motivate myself to get back to the grind stone. Luckily I found a hack for this. I’ve made a commitment to it.

I’ve joined a local writing critique circle that specializes in novels. Pretty soon I’ll be forced to keep up with my editing for else I’ll have nothing to show them! I work well with structure and I’m hoping this will give me the push I need to buckle back down. In a sense I’m trying to social engineer myself, which is the kind of crazy I do apparently.

On another note, you might be able to tell from the photo today that I have upped my game. My wife got me a lightbox and that pushed me to pull out my DSLR camera and take some proper pictures. The results varied but I think there is already a slight improvement. The lightbox has different lighting levels and I’m rusty with my camera so I have a lot to fine tune.

I have a bunch of time off coming up this week so I should have more to talk about soon. I already have a new writing partner picked out for the next section of the book so stay tuned!

Writing Partner: A Small Friend With a Big Hook!

Zarbag half painted

For the first post for this topic, see Part 1: On The Hook.

After a day of writing, I have edited and, in some ways, reworked the first two chapters of my book. I wasn’t expecting this, but it ended up being a really rewarding process. Not only did it result in 2 more pages to my total length (I’m nearly at the average mystery novel length), I also had a lot of fun! Maybe I’ve turned a corner and editing will be fun now? Doubtful, but one can always hope.

As I promised, I worked on the goblin warband “Zarbag’s Gitz” as a partner project. He isn’t finished yet, but this is where I’m at now.

Missing a few steps but he’s coming along well. Just need to finish the details, add a wash to some areas and do the metal work.

I usually put a mini down when I move on to a new project but I’m going to keep working on this one and the rest of his warband. Why, you might ask? It is because I have a few more chapters to work on before the next big tentpole chapter. When I get to that chapter I’ll put these guys down and grab a new writing partner.

Before I pick a new partner, I’ll post a group shot of all the gobbos together. The other warband members are missing some details and the metal work but they aren’t far behind where Zarbag is.

As I mentioned, I had a surprisingly good time editing today. Maybe this whole writing partner thing is work? We’ll have to wait and see. If this pace keeps up, I might even achieve my goal of finishing this draft before the new year!