First draft in the Chronicles of Midnight

Posted by on Dec 16, 2017 in Progress Report

Yesterday I reached a major milestone in the production of my latest book, The Lords of Midnight. The first draft is complete! Those of you who have followed this blog for quite some time will know that this is an important step, it means there is a ‘story’ end-to-end based on the original plot and direction and that the greater bulk of the writing itself is done. Yet, in some ways, it’s just the start! From here the story has to be tweaked and fettled. I do edit quite a lot as I go on, so this draft isn’t as rough as many fellow authors’ would be, it’s probably more akin to what most writers would consider a ‘second draft’, but it still needs a lot of work. From a pure editing perspective there will be typos, grammar issues, clunky sentences, insufficient character differentiation, repeating words and phrases, too much or too little description, continuity errors and bad POV changes and scene transitions. This is quite tedious to fix, but I’m fortunate to have an excellent editor with her red pen poised to wreak bloody havoc over my manuscript… However, before that, the story needs to have its lore, characters, situations and overall feel checked by the LoreMaster himself; in the case of the Lords of Midnight this is the inestimable Chris Wild who is both the expert and the ultimate decision maker on the lore as it relates to Mike Singleton’s world. As of yesterday evening a draft is with Chris for review and comment. Thus there is an awful lot of work still to do, we may have won a skirmish, but the battle continues! However, having skim read what we have already, I’m confident we have a good foundation to build upon. For me, after the event, it’s fascinating to see the differences between the first draft and the final edit. There are massive changes in some places, minor nips and tucks in others. It’s all aimed at ensuring the book, and the story it tells, is of the highest possible quality. This book was original promised back in 1984 by Beyond, the company that published the original game – they failed in that particular quest. 33 years later we’re on track to close that circle – but we want to ensure that we do the best job we can, making something that Mike himself would be proud of and that lays a solid foundation for future books if this one is successful. For now then, a brief hiatus as the year draws to an end. The Solstice looms before us, but before long glad hearts and minds will turn to longer days and the promise of spring. A new dawn for Midnight...

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He thinks again…

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Progress Report

Chris and I have been working on the novelization of the Lords of Midnight for some time now, infact it was back in June 2016 I started on the project. With Chris’ help on the lore I have made excellent progress on the novel and I’m getting closer to a good solid first draft. We’re currently at 97,088 words. It happens to be the Autumn Equinox today, as good a time as ever to give an update. However, I’m afraid we have a delay. To cut a long story short, with Chris’ and my publisher’s blessing I have taken the decision to postpone the publication date. As you know, I wanted to have the book available on the 21st of Dec 2017, to mark the Winter Solstice as per the starting point of the game narrative. Due to a number of factors progress has been delayed during the writing. I might be able to push it across the line in time, but I’d start to compromise on quality and content – Chris and I simply won’t do that. Mike Singleton’s legacy deserves the best we can produce – it means we need more time to get it right. So how much of a delay? A revised timeline has the book being published at the end of March 2018, around a 3 month delay overall. I think this is realistic based on current workload and my publisher concurs. I completely understand this isn’t the best of news, and it will be frustrating to those who are eagerly awaiting the story, particularly in time for Christmas. I hope that by letting you know as soon as I can and with a commitment to finish according to a revised plan you’ll understand the situation. The detail on the delays? As you know, I was working on my previous novel, the official Elite Dangerous book : Premonition. This featured a few …er… ‘novel’ scenarios, not least having to take part in and organize some in-game activity which would impact the end of the book. I underestimated the time required for this quite badly. My contingency time was eaten up and I still hadn’t finished with Elite Dangerous. The editing demands of that story were also considerably higher than expected. I also underestimated the emotional and physical drain involved in putting all that content together, and coping with some of the unexpected and undesirable aspects of the outcome. This was combined with a stressful period in my day job where we were under threat of redundancy throughout this entire period. In short, I got rather burnt out. It took a toll on both me and my family. Thus it took me a little time to regain equilibrium and get back on track with writing Lords of Midnight. The work situation has improved since and a summer break recharged the synapses. I’ve been trying, but...

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Bringing characters to life

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Progress Report

STOP PRESS – Elite Dangerous Premonition just came out in paperback on Amazon as I was writing this blog. I would really appreciate it if folks who’ve already read and enjoyed the ebook version could give it a review. Reviews make a massive difference to the visibility of the book and are the best thing you can do to help out an author. Many thanks! This weekend I attended FantastiCon up in Hull. This was the fourth one, but at the same venue as last year – the magnificent Guildhall. My two boys Mark and Joshua were immediately ensconced with their PCs and loading up the latest games and my wife Anita and Mark’s girlfriend Abbey chatted to the attendees. For me it was a chance to meet friends old and new and catch up on all that’s happened over the last year. Fantasticon is run by my publisher, the indomitable Dan and his long suffering, but wonderful, wife, Gabi of Fantastic Books Publishing. It’s a mix of modern and retro computer and tabletop gaming, books, creative arts and socialising, with quite a lot of impromptu mucking about into the bargain, particularly when the alcohol starts flowing. 😉 One of my first assignments was to have an on stage chat with another of Fantastic Books’ authors, Stuart Aken, who was launching his latest book “War Over Dust“. It was fun for us to compare notes about how we approach writing, develop characters, do our research and so on. Turns out that I’m a ‘plotter’ and Stuart is a ‘panster’ – I plot out everything to the nth degree and Stuart prefers to write by the ‘seat of his pants’! Later that day I did a reading from my upcoming novel the “Lords of Midnight” followed later on by Kate Russell and her recently launched audiobook “A Bookkeeper’s Guide to Practical Sorcery.” I, along with two of my longest standing ‘Elite’ buddies, also formed the ‘Drinklings’ (a little homage to the famous ‘Inklings‘) at the Con. Expect the unexpected. 😉 My main event for the Con was something Elite Dangerous related though and this occurred on the second day. Whilst writing for the game I’d been fortunate enough for part of the in-game story to have been voice acted by two very talented voice actors – Amelia Tyler (@AmeliaTyler) and Jay Britton (@VoiceJayBritton). The reaction to the work that they did was remarkable throughout the Elite Dangerous community, with huge enthusiasm and thanks for it being the first example of its type in the game. To see an example of their work in the game and how the community responded – check out this stream segment from @Pumpkinberry who chanced upon the spooky wreck of the abandoned spacecraft ‘Zurara’. (warning – some strong language!) Highlight of my career, this meant so much to me. Thank you @pumpkinberry, thank you @EliteDangerous community...

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Narrative editing of Elite Dangerous Premonition is complete

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Progress Report

Another big hurdle out of the way. Today I put the finishing touches to the narrative edit of Elite Dangerous Premonition! This means we’re now at a third draft (Draft one was the rough story, draft two was my own personal edit) and the book is in really good shape. Lots of plot holes and inconsistencies have been worked out, extraneous text has been axed, prose has been tightened, POV and pace has been enhanced. That all goes to making it better to read and more enjoyable. In total there were 734 changes made based on suggestions by my ever so talented editor, Mae. Word count remains a chunky 153,086 words! Next up is the copyedit. The manuscript now goes for a professional ‘spit and polish’, looking for errant typos, grammar and other inconsistencies. Once that’s done it will be ready for typesetting, the actual process of turning it into a book. Having read it all through again it’s already much better than it was. I’m now really confident I have a solid, exciting and quality story that’s a worthy sequel to my original book, but will also stand on its own for Elite Dangerous aficionados and new readers alike. More importantly I’m confident it captures what’s been happening in the game and gives the reader the chance to experience all those events over again from a different, and more in depth, perspective. I’m hopeful it will also stand as an SF novel in its own right. I’m really looking forward to what people make of it. Production time lines look encouraging. Once I have more news on that I’ll let you know straight away. I’ll sign off with Mae’s last comments to me – “You’ve done an incredible job with it. It’s a great...

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Elite Dangerous Premonition is with the editors

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Progress Report

A major milestone for me today. The second draft of Elite Dangerous Premonition was finished and sent to the editors. 151,354 words in total. I have incorporated all the details from the event that happened on the 29th of April into the closing chapters of the book. The overall story has had a ‘lore consistency check’ from Frontier Developments and the manuscript is now in the hands of the editors for fettling. The second draft is complete! At this point the story is told, it ‘makes sense’ from beginning to end. Hopefully most of the major plot-holes are filled in. (A couple of howlers were spotted en-route!). The overall story has been approved by Frontier in its close to final form. So it’s ready then? No. There will still be a lot of problems with the book at this stage. Typos for sure, POV inconsistencies, character dialogue which isn’t quite right. Descriptions that are too long or too short, pacing that doesn’t suit the scene… this is all stuff that needs to be fixed and authors aren’t always great at it. I’m happy the story is a good one, but to turn this into a book requires a different kind of magic now… the editor. These wonderful folks turn a good yarn into a proper readable form. They dramatically improve the text, tightening passages, cutting out the flabby words, firming the tone, sharpening the words and dealing with the dross. What comes out is the same story, but punchier, harder, more compelling, more exciting and, well, just better! I’m lucky enough to be using the same one who worked on Elite: Reclamation all those years ago. An SF specialist and someone who already knows the ins and outs of the Elite Dangerous universe. We’re in safe hands, Commanders....

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Elite Dangerous Premonition – First Draft Complete

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Progress Report

Something of a milestone today. Having pledged to complete the first draft of Elite Dangerous Premonition this week, I have in fact completed it today. A big push over lunch-time was sufficient to finish off the last remaining scenes, details and some of the major glaring inconsistencies I knew were lurking in the manuscript. The novel stands at 140,707 words. It took 236 days (7 months, 24 days) to get to this point. So the book’s ready then? Not so fast! What happens next is that I need to re-read the entire story from beginning to end, tweaking and adjusting pace, dialogue, tense, viewpoints, making sure characters ‘pop’ and keep on looking for typos, mistakes, continuity errors and so on. Right now, the book is not even close to ‘ready’, there is still a lot of work to do… …Not to mention that last chapter that you will all be writing on the 29th of April! However a first draft is a significant point in the creation of a book. It means there is definitely something very tangible already in existence, the overall story is told and it’s now a case of polishing, refining, tweaking and adjusting. The second and third drafts will follow in due course, but we are getting close. Many names will be immortalised in the canon, lore will be established and many mysteries revealed. For now, I write on, Commanders....

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