I’m closing the week at 78,402 words, still comfortably ahead of my 76k target, and that includes a day ‘lost’ to editing. Things are moving apace, I’m working on a very exciting part of the story now, whereby things are being set up for the finale. Dramatic stuff, plans are being revealed. All the major characters have a crisis to deal with. I’m just finishing off chapter eleven.
Next week I should pass 80,000 words. That’s another significant milestone as 80k words is ‘you’ve reached minimum novel length’. Most novels are between 80-120k words, so I’m in a good place as I approach the finale.
I treat these closing bits rather like a good game of chess. You position your pieces, you arrange the board and then, when the time is right, all hell breaks loose. Substitute the characters for the pieces and the scenery for the board and you’ve got an excellent analogy.
What else have I been up to this week? I’ve checked a couple of technical details with Michael at Frontier. I was relying heavily on one particular piece of technology as a plot device and I wanted be sure I was using it appropriately. It’s something that won’t be at all commonplace in the Elite universe and I wanted to check. It came back all clear, so all is well so far.
My reading from LaveCon seems to have gone down well. It’s been downloaded (ducks aside to check weblog…) 242 times from here as of last night, not counting those who have listened to the LaveRadio broadcast directly. The writers’ forum remains eeriely quiet for now, with just a few queries on format and measurements of distance. Looks like everyone is still writing away.
The end of August was my target for completing the initial draft. In practice I need to be pretty much done a little before that. I’m on holiday in the latter half of August and will be taking a break from the book, ‘real-life’ and online stuff for a couple of weeks. Family time, I’m sure you understand. It’s also my birthday in August, so I’ll be celebrating another trip around the sun.
That leaves me with a little over four weeks to wrap this all up. That’s not long, it’s not long at all! August seemed a world away back when I started this journey in November last year, but now it’s just around the corner.
After that my thoughts will have to turn to activities beyond the first draft… so what does that look like?
Believe it or not, the first thing I will do is… pretty much nothing at all. I’ll take a break from it. After an interval I will read the story from end to end, making copious notes on how I think it works, areas to improve and revisit. I will read it as a ‘book’.
I will frame up all the ‘Elite’ questions I need to ask of Frontier. There are still a lot of details missing at this stage; notably ship types, descriptions, locations and names. I’ll be reviewing the text to see where I can add ‘Elite’ details, little hints and references to the universe itself.
More importantly I will be assessing the flow. Does the story have the right pace? Are my characters consistent throughout in terms of the journey they go on? Have I missed any loose ends? Are there any plot-holes? I hate plot-holes.
I need to ensure all pledge awards are included. I’ll be coming after top level pledgers once more! Ships, characters and dialogue all need to be right and proper and inserted into the text sympathetically.
After that, editing. I know some of the stuff my editor will be on the lookout for and I’ll try my best to keep them out of a job. I’ll fail, but I’ll do my best! Beyond that it’s back to the editor for a thorough going over as a complete tale. There’ll be red ink. I’ll need to do more corrections.
Hopefully some of the Frontier questions will be answered by this point and I can incorporate those too.
Then the fun really begins.
My editor will fire the book out to some test proof-readers, who will review it with a critical eye. The story’s first real test, the ultimate question – is this story any good? More feedback, more modifications. Back to the editor again… Only when this process has run its course will I have something I can submit to the next stage.
Back to Frontier this time. Have I made any ‘Elite’ errors with respect to timelines and background information? Hopefully not, but it’s possible I’ll need to make more modifications. There is also legal stuff to insert.
Then, and only then do I end up with ‘Elite:Reclamation’ the story. Frontier has to approve it. Another milestone to pass.
But there’s more. My publisher will need to work on a cover design – they do this properly, actually reading the story before deciding what kind of cover will suit. There’s promotion to consider – another point to discuss with my publisher. At this point I don’t know what Frontier’s plans are in this regard, so I’m awaiting more detail. Currently I plan to release the book alongside the game – the date of this is currently not known. I may consider an earlier release if it’s possible and there is a good reason to do so.
There are press releases to consider, blog contacts, review sites…
There are some other exciting bits and pieces in the works too, but I can’t talk about those at the moment – plenty of reasons to stay tuned.
In short, writing the story is just the first half of the show and that bit is drawing to a close. The second act is about to start, and there is an enormous amount still to do. From here on out it gets more frenetic, not less.
The story continues, dear readers!
Oh, and one last thing… in case you missed it on the forums, and just to show I’m paying attention to the sequel games, here’s me playing an interpretation of the Frontier Elite 2 theme tune. See you next week, Commanders.