I know it’s been a while. I had a family emergency and while it’s not fully resolved yet my stress levels are now back to a point were I can writing again.
NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’m nearly ready. Because I’m about a month behind where I hoped I would be I’m going with my journalist/monster of the week story rather than the more literary ghost story. I just have more of that one planned and because this is my first NaNoWriMo I want to put my best foot forward. I could probably put a little more work into my outline and I want to finish and share my NaNo page for the project, but I’m nearly ready to start writing.
You can expect a flurry or content over the next month. I’ll have NaNo updates, new writing partners, and a return to regularly posted podcasts. I’m looking forward to applying all the lessons I’ve learned over the last year to a new book and sharing my findings as I go. Fingers crossed it goes as smoothly as I hope!
Ok, I can admit when I’m wrong. I was wrong about this guy.
He’s great, isn’t he? Turns out the banderhobb miniature paints up well! I didn’t do anything with the base, though. I’ve got a long-term basing plan for all of my freshwater monsters, so he’ll be clipped off that one and put on something custom in time. But for now, I think he’s more than good enough to play with.
I like to imagine that him floating at the surface of a pong or small lake. Just blending in, like lily pads in grimy water. Waiting until something gets close enough to gulp up.
More importantly, he made for a great writing partner. I’ve finished both of my outlines. That means it’s time to start a new project.
My next book will be a horror novel built out of multiple short stories and novelettes about the same character. Most chapters will stand alone, but together they tell a complete story and showcase the character’s arc.
It’s a very different book than my last one, but I plan on taking it in bite-sized chunks. This means we’re going to need a lot of varied writing partners. And I already have the first one in mind.
After a couple of weeks off, I’m back to work. This time, on a pair of outlines. I have one for the book I want to write for NaNoWriMo and another for the one I’m working on in the meantime. Beyond basic plotting I also have to wrap my mind around a bunch of new characters. For a job like this, I’ll need the help of someone who is a real character themselves. And with that in mind… look at this abomination!
I mean, why did I even buy this? In D&D it’s called a banderhobb, but I think of him as the gross little frogman I bought on a whim for 5 bucks. There had to be a reason. I think it’s that face: dumb, greasy, and bulbous. If I didn’t inexplicably love him, I’d hate him.
But somewhere in those wideset eyes is meaning. Why is he like this? What niche does he fill in his environment? I know he’s a swamp predator, but why? What force of nature, or act of fate, molded him?
Similarly, I know the purpose I need my characters to fill in my narrative. But what got them there? What made them the people they are now and, more importantly, faced with what I’m about to put them through, what will they do next?
Stay tune. With the help of this grotesque frogman, I’m going to figure it out.
Hello all. Last night I finished my novel. At this point all the content is done and I’ve finished editing. Yes, I know, I’ll have to give it another polish after I get feedback from my beta readers. But we’re not going to think about that! Instead, let’s revel in the moment. It’s a full length book!
And look! It’s nearly 300 pages!
Anyway, It will probably be a few months before my readers are finished with it. So, I’m done for now. I’m going to take a couple days off and then, well, I don’t know. I’ll probably start another one.
I’m going to try and make this update as brief as possible. To linger would be sending a mixed message. I’m nearly done with my book. Still working on the title, but I digress. If I focus and keep at it, I will be sending it out to my first round of beta readers this weekend. This means, with any luck, I’ll be working on something new next week.
None of that is news, I said as much in my last update, but I found myself doing something strange this week. I picked up a different writing partner for the final leg of work.
He’s not great, as you can see. It’s a cygor from the Warhammer Age of Sigmar line and was meant to lead a small group of Tzeentch worshiping beastmen. The minotaur turned out well, but I’ve never been happy with the cygor.
Because of his size, he has lived prominently on a shelf in my office. His one eye staring me down. Judging me. And there he sat, staring a hole into me for over two years, until this week.
This week, in the final stretch, he caught my eye. My thought was I would fix him while I finished this book. Both have sat unfinished for years. Both could be projects worth refining. But, looking at the cygor I suddenly wondered if I could really finish my book this week. Then a thought crossed my mind, maybe my book could use one more edit too? Was I rushing this?
I started by giving it a brown wash to darken the skin tone and make it more natural. Then I sent a picture of it to a friend of mine to see what he thought should be the next step. He told me that he’s doesn’t usually pick old projects back up again. Instead, his suggestion was to paint something new.
Looking back, I think this has been a problem for me. I have, at multiple times, sunk years into projects I should have just let go of. Do I have a hard time letting projects go? Even with this book, have I held on to it for too long?
So I put the cygor in a drawer and closed it. Likewise, I need to finish this book and move on. No more rewrites, no more fiddling. It’s going to beta readers this weekend. Is that technical done, no, but it’s the first step to genuinely letting it go. I’m not going to grow unless I write new content, so it’s time to start.
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.
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.
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!