A year from now we will be launching the novelization of Mike Singleton’s epic game, the Lords of Midnight. Here at the Winter Solstice itself, it only appropriate to have a little bit of a status update. How are things going? Are we still utterly invigorated and confident that victory will go to the free?
In short. Yes!
Progress has been very good. We’re on track with the novel. I have been writing as fast as I can. Chris gets a version of this whenever I save it out, via the magic of Dropbox, and I thus get feedback on the new sections within days – very handy.
At the moment we’re sitting at just over 56,000 words. I’m aiming for a finished first draft in the order of about 140,000 words, so with a bit of deft calculator action that means we’re about 40% of the way through that.
The first draft is only half of the work though. There will be a second, third and probably a fourth draft. Editing isn’t nearly as much fun as the initial creative work, but an essential part of the process of turning writing into a finished novel.
There are no shortcuts here. Characters have to be checked for consistency, plot-holes eliminated, pacing, tension, dialogue and all manner of other essential components reviewed, adjusted and tweaked. It’s never really ‘finished’, but my personal litmus test is to keep working until I really find it a chore and I can’t stand the sight of it anymore – about then is when the book is ready!
As I mentioned before we’ve had to take a long hard look at all the elements of the story. Lords of Midnight was created in the 80s, but we’re now putting this together for an audience of fans from that time and new readers here in the 21st century. In the same way as a stylistic choices, enhancements and tweaks have been made to the original games in order for them to be ‘acceptable’ to modern gaming tastes on Android and iOS, we have had to consider how readers will respond to this story with modern eyes.
Diversity is a bit of a problem. The Lords of Midnight is unremittingly male dominated in its original incarnation, with a series of Lords who are superficially identical. In the same way that the Hobbit faced the challenge of differentiating between a collection of Dwarves, we have a similar problem with Midnight. We have solutions however!
For original players we have the challenge of writing a story which will entertain and delight, despite the fact that the players know the ending. We don’t want to change the established facts (in fact we can’t if we want to go on to write sequels) so we have to accommodate the known ending. There’s a danger that the book is a little too obvious. We’ve been working to ensure that is not the case.
For folks new to the story, we have to craft something that can be read without knowledge of the game. That means we need to introduce the magic of Midnight and the background to the races, the artifacts and the story to them. This needs to be balanced so it doesn’t slow the story down and doesn’t irritate those who do know the lore.
All this has to be done without destroying the magic of what Lords of Midnight is. We’ve also looked very carefully at what it is the differentiates Lords of Midnight from other games, from other stories. This quality is very elusive, but everyone who knows the game will notice if it isn’t there. We have to capture the essence of the game.
We think again…
So, it remains a challenge! We’re in good shape though. For the next few months we’re going to concentrate on editing up the work completed to date, so the word count won’t rise so quickly. I have to divert more of my time to the Elite Dangerous book that is in the works in order to ensure that is completed on schedule ( a schedule which is rather more aggressive!). Fear not though, Lords of Midnight will arrive as expected. I have never failed to get a book out on time and don’t intend to start now.
So here, at the darkest day of the year, the doom of the Witchking of Ushgarak is not yet at hand. His power waxes to its greatest extent and Midnight remains locked in snow, ice and fear.
Yet the moonstar flickers brightly in the easterly sky. Hope ripples through the people of the Free. The Wise stir in their towers and the Fey waken to snatches of new songs borne upon the winds.
Something approaches that was long ago promised and yet failed to appear. This time hopes will not be dashed.
Night has fallen and the foul are abroad. Dawn is still far away, but there is a glimmer on the horizon to the east.
For this time, a novel set in the Land of Midnight is utterly certain.