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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The 100k Barrier

Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 in Progress Report

Something of a milestone in the writing this week, the first draft of Elite Dangerous Premonition has hit the 100k mark against an approximate target of 140k. Now some folks will point out, quite rightly, that word count isn’t everything. The old writing cliché – “Don’t worry about word count, worry whether your words count” may apply. Is the story working, is the plot sound, are the characters appropriately differentiated? All good questions. I’ll let my previous track record in writing speak to those points, I don’t intend to disappoint my readers. You can assume that is all in good shape, though there’s plenty of work left to do. I use word count as a progress indicator because it’s straightforward and easily accessible. It works for me. Sometimes an author has the luxury of putting out a book ‘when it’s ready’, but often I see that as an excuse for ‘late’ or ‘never’. I find I work best under pressure, so I set myself word count targets and track progress against them. So far so good. 100k is a good slug of work and with just over 70% of the draft written it’s appropriate to ask “So how’s it going, Drew?” On balance, I think it’s coming together well. I don’t encounter ‘writers block’ myself (I put that down to good planning), so I’ve been able to continue on at pace. I’ve been capturing player events as they occur and usually get to write those up a week or so after the event. My biggest concern at present is two fold. The first is the character arcs. There are quite a few in Premonition by necessity and I need to ensure they all make sense and have a purpose. This isn’t currently the case in many places. It’s an editing job, but a big one. The second is ensuring I wrap up certain threads in-game and from my previous book in a satisfying way. I’ve made a bit of a ‘rod for my own back’ on this one, because I weave in multiple meanings and layers and like to leave readers with a few unanswered questions. The trick is finding a balance between how much to reveal directly, how much to leave for readers to infer and how much to leave unanswered. I will say, however, that this has been a much tougher assignment than my previous Elite Dangerous book ‘Reclamation’. That felt, at the time, quite ambitious, but it’s child’s play compared to the task of ensuring that ‘Premonition’ works well. Premonition is not only a book, it’s part chronicle, part lore repository… but it has to excel at all three without compromise. Polishing this up to a real shine is going to be a hard job. Here’s what I’m juggling at present in addition to all the ‘normal stuff’ required to produce a book: Monitoring social media and...

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