The editing goes on

Always thought the editing part of the novel would go pretty quickly. A couple of typos, some additional content, add some character descriptions, correct a couple of inconsistencies and I’d be ready to roll.

Yeah, right.

Well, I got a great book on editing, some good tools, and started to seriously polish my first draft. I discovered I’m managing about two chapters a day.

I do a chapter, eat an aspirin, take a nap, eat some dinner, and work until the second chapter is done.  In the morning I reread the two chapters I just did, find three more things to fix, and then repeat the process. At this rate I should be done by the end of June instead of May.

I’d feel bad, but the story actually does read a lot better. It spends less time telling you what happened and does a better job of putting you in the action.  On the bright side, the heaviest edits are in the first chapters.  Once the story gets rolling it shifts into more dialog and the pace is smoother.

Note to future self.  “You could reduce the editing a lot if you would stop using so many conditional sentences and connective phrases.” (Like that one.)  Try,  “Reduce editing by avoiding conditional sentences.” or even better, “Avoid conditional sentences.”  And the best?  “Active tense, No fillers.”  Do that from the beginning and the editing would be a lot faster.

And now, back to the story…

Returning to Your Roots

Part of this week was going to be set aside for considering the restart of my computer game company. It has been languishing since 8 days after the release of our first 2D game Groundhog Hunt.

On that day, I found out my wife had cancer.

Games went on hold, except for my brief attempt to create a game for cancer patients. I’ll revisit that game and finish it one day, Like several of the games I have worked on or shelved due to various issues it is simply something that I know I will return to until it is done.  I’m rather tenacious that way.

Anyway, the list of things to get my company back in gear is rather long, including catching up on the latest technology and the business news.  So I set aside time for reading up on all my back issues of Gamasutra.  I did research on rebuilding my website with modern tools.  I looked at a half dozen game engines across a spectrum of different genres.  I seriously considered if I even WANTED to restart the whole thing.

I haven’t answered that question yet.  I want to make sure I know the scope of the whole thing before I make the decision.  I noticed that I always made everybody else’s game and never made the one’s I wanted.  Maybe if I took it back to being a hobby I could work on what I wanted to.  But one thing that I did decide to do that wasn’t all business.  I went back to my roots.  I got copies of all the games I remember that motivated me to want to make games in the first place.  It’s been an interesting time revisiting tools and old games.

Old games aren’t always that pretty to revisit.  With time the errors become more visible.  Back then there was a lot more experimentation because the field was new.  Games that you have the fondest memories of can be the hardest to deal with.  It’s not just the poor graphics, or the tinny audio.  It’s the uneven game balance, the difficult UI, the over the top attempt to display every possible nuance of game play on a 300×200 screen.

The game industry has matured.  But interestingly one game, for me, has held up.  Myst.

The Masterpiece Edition buffed up the screen resolution a bit, but it didn’t matter.  It is flawed, to be sure, but the audio is sill compelling, the puzzles are still fun, and the underlying story of a father betrayed by his own children is still a tour de force.

I realize that nowadays Myst is considered by many to be a hack game and something that it is easy to throw stones at.  But as someone who was around when it arrived… it changed everything, at least for me.

From the moment I saw it I wanted to make worlds like that.  I found out about 3D and more than anything I wanted to make Myst worlds that you could wander around in.  I studied VRML, and cardboard glasses with plastic red and blue lenses.  I tried io-glasses, I tried shutter glasses.  But the speed, the technology, was never quite there.  So, I waited.  I kept trying, but always there was something technological that kept me from being able to make the worlds I wanted.

I made my first game in 1973.  I saw Myst in 1993.  In 2013 I became aware of a resurgence in interest in VR.  I figure if I start working on my own right now I MIGHT have the VR game that I wanted… by 2033?  It would make an interesting hobby in my old age.

I should shoot for 2023.  Fifty years seems like a reasonable amount of time to wait for what I want.  Then I can spend ten years expanding it – for fun.  I can do that.

Like I said.  I can be tenacious.

 

 

Editing underway!

Well, it’s going to be a busy week.  I’m trying to fix a rather complicated bug in a consulting project I’ve been hired to do and still retain enough focus to be able to do a decent job of editing on the chapters of my novel.

I’m thinking it will require two editing passes.  The first pass will go from front to back to add all the requested material from the editors (I want to know what she looks like!  Where are they now?  What does the cafeteria look like?”) and to fix a couple of nagging issues (“If they are soooo smart how come they don’t do…”)  After filling in all the requests the second pass will go from back to front to tighten up the sentences, put more stuff in active tense, make the language a bit more interesting.  You know the drill.

After that exercise it will go to the publisher who will loose the grammar and punctuation hounds on it.  I do have a tool to help me with that a bit, but sometimes the best solution to a sticky grammar issue is not correct punctuation, but a keen eye saying, “Rewrite it like this…”

Always room to learn more.  Looking forward to it.

New short story and helping to raise money for Deb Nash Memorial Dance Scholarship Fund

Submitted another short story for review this week.  Which means the writing decks are now clear to begin editing the novel.  I have gotten a lot of good feedback and I expect it to actually increase in size as I fill in more background on the characters, environment, and beef up the battle scenes.

In other news, Dance Alliance has completed their first year managing the Deb Nash Memorial Scholarship Fund.  They set it up in 2012 in her name to assist people of all ages who wish to use dance to improve their lives in meaningful ways.  I thought I would cheat and throw a copy of the letter in here for all the people who didn’t know about the Fund and what it is doing.  And maybe give them a shot at picking up a few more dollars for the coming year.  So here it is…

—————————————————————————————————————-

Dear Friends of Deb Nash,

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since Deb’s passing. She believed that dance can enlighten, entertain, energize, and elevate both the dancer and audience. Her dream was to enable people – all people – who wanted to learn dance to achieve those goals. For this reason Dance Alliance established a fund in her name.

We at the scholarship fund are writing to let you know that donations in her memory are working towards that dream.

This year’s candidates include two brothers who are on the autism spectrum. Their mother finds that dance is a way to get them to focus and interact with others on a person to person level. We are working with Kerri Petersen Weaver, a dance educator and certified instructor for such cases, to find a safe space to hold the classes.

We have also received an application from a young woman at J M Walsh High School in Pawtucket, RI. She is dancing every day to build on her basic knowledge, dances in school productions and needs to continue to strengthen her dance background in order to fill her childhood dream of becoming more proficient as a dancer. She sees how dance can be a part of her life and wants to take more intensive dance classes to build the skills and knowledge to go to work with the people in the community.

These are just two examples of the kinds of people who are being reached by the fund. There are others in the queue and so we must watch our balances carefully.

I do think Deb would be smiling now.

Please help us to share more with the people of Rhode Island by increasing our fund. Dance Alliance is a 501C3 organization and all donations are fully tax deductible. Make your check payable to the Dance Alliance Scholarship Fund and mail it to PO Box 372, East Greenwich, RI 02818.

Please give generously. Let’s keep Deb’s dream alive.

 

DA Scholarship Committee                                                 David Dougher, Honorary Chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game and Writing Announcements for Easter

Yay! Announcements on game development, and writing progress.

Seems like a good day to announce that I have decided to “resurrect” my game company.

My plan going forward is to return to the early days where I worked on the kinds of games I like to build, and play. The first ones will be simple fun titles while I build up my skill set to current standards. As I get more time (and perhaps hire more talent) I’ll expand to doing more complex titles. I have licenses to several game engines. So, I can pick and choose which engine will get me get the game I’m interested in making with the least amount of additional effort.

Expect to see a new website for the Pariah Games in the coming weeks. The old one served me well when I was promoting the work of budding high school students, but I think a face lift is in order going forward.

On the writing front I am happy to announce that after about 40 years I have returned to the ranks of the published authors.

Interestingly, the first thing that got to print this time was a poem, written under my own name. I write fiction under the name David Nash to make it easier to find on the bookshelves. I write non-fiction under my own name because you are generally looking for the information and not the author.

Anyway, although two short fiction pieces were accepted before the poem, it got to print first. The fiction pieces should be coming out soon and I’ll plug them when they are published.

The book, which contains poetry, stories, and reflections is called “Valley of Ice” and is published by Collins Press. It is available in paper and electronic forms.

ISBN’s are:
ISBN-13: 978-1495989353
ISBN-10: 1495989356

Website is: http://www.colpub.com/

Finally, I have gotten back enough feedback from my initial readers that I can begin the final edits on the sci-fi novel. With a little effort it should be ready sometime in May. I’ll let people know a bit more about it as the time draws near.

I got a lot of useful feedback, some great suggestions, and a couple of requests to start on the sequel right away.

I have a couple other writing projects in front of it, but I do have a sequel in mind. We’ll have to see how the public likes the first one.

That’s it for now. Hope you all have a happy, quiet and pleasant holiday.

The Gears Were Turning This Week!

So much accomplished this week!

Finished the first draft of my next short story.  Now it sits for three days before I start the rewrite/edit.

And, I also finished the outline for my next novel.  As promised last post it is a steampunk adventure story, and if it works as expected it will combine a rousing good yarn with the basics of my role-playing game.  That is, what happens in the book could happen  in the game, especially if the players were seriously into the role-playing and the DM had fed them the right information about their characters beforehand.  I’m trying to make it read more like a novel and less like a journal of a DM’s die rolls.  Which is pretty easy, because I’m not rolling anything.  Just telling the story while making sure that the things that do happen are reasonably possible in the game.  So, no deus ex machina, and no double zero die rolls!

I’m also looking at some short stories I can post up on this site, and working on a couple of ideas for novella sized fiction that could be published through Amazon for 99 cents.  It’s kind of interesting.  I was looking at the approximate size of the “novella sized” books that they have now for 99 cents and they seem pretty much the size of the old paperback books before some publisher decided that fantasy and science fiction novels must be 400 page long tomes in a 12 volume series.

Don’t get me wrong — I like a good series.  But, I don’t think every book should be a series.  I like the continuity of a good background setting.  However, I don’t need my hero/heroine to keep getting dragged back through all kinds of hell, book after book, until you have to kill them off just so you can drag their children through varieties of the same old nonsense.

Sometimes the good guys should get the happy ending they earned.

 

 

 

 

Starting on World Building for Steampunk Universe

A couple weeks ago I went  to TempleCon, a sci-fi convention held annually in Warwick, RI.  I had a great time and I met some very nice people.    TempleCon has a wonderful Steampunk flavor to it.  There were  costume booths, and a huge room with hundreds of people playing miniatures games. There was music, period dancing, and even period martial arts courses.

I like Steampunk, The artwork, music, and costumes are interesting and fun.  The people are intelligent and friendly.

I’d like to do a number of things in the Steampunk genre.  I’ve noticed that there aren’t many role-playing games, board games, computer games, comics,  short stories, or novels in the steampunk genre — compared to other types of fantasy/science fiction. To be sure, there is some really great stuff out there – just not as much as in other branches of science fiction..

I think it could be a fun arena to work in.  So, I’m looking at putting together several areas where I have interests and personal strengths and building a comprehensive Steampunk Universe where I can do all of the above.

So for the next couple of weeks I’m going to gather materials, organize them and begin working on the foundations for a Steampunk role-playing game, a Steampunk board game, and a small Steampunk computer game.  In parallel I’ll be doing some short stories to introduce people to the world, and gathering feedback on what people would like to see.

For now, it will be mostly research work, not a lot to show.  But, as it progresses I’ll probably modify this site a bit and add things.

Of course, when things do get rolling some of these things will have to be free.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth your while to follow along until all your friends were doing it too.  I like getting free stuff and I actually enjoy giving free stuff away.  So, expect to get some neat swag as I build.

You can drop ideas and comments here if you would like.

That’s enough for now.  I should have more to say later in the week.

First Draft of Novel Finished

Well, it has been just slightly less than a year since I set out to finish the sci-fi novel.  It was a pretty tough haul.  But in the end I got it done.  A least the first draft is done.  Along the way I also finished two short stories which have been accepted for publication and started rewrites on a half dozen more that were shoved in the closet.

I’ll let it rest for a day, then do a brief edit for typos and stupid grammar mistakes. Next I will turn it over to my new proofreader, Daphne, and a group of persons who will review it for mistakes, inconsistencies, and dull spots.  I’ll give them two weeks for feedback,  Then I will read all their suggestions and begin the polish rewrite.

If I can stick to the schedule, it should be completed by the end of February.  I have the glimmerings of a sequel in mind.  However, I also have three other books in various stages of completeness vying for my attention.

I think it might be a good idea to post more frequently on this site as well, especially since I’m paying for it.  I might even drop a sample or two in here for people to look at.  Seems reasonable to me for people to get an idea what I’m writing, especially since I’d like them to eventually buy it.

So, for this year, there will be more focus on writing and on my software consulting and dance businesses.  I have a couple of projects that should end this year and I hope to handoff a couple of things to people who are waiting for me to finish up.

But those are topics for other posts… this one is done.

Progress on the new novel

Well, made a bit of a push this week and finished the first section of my new novel.  Since it also happens to lay most of the groundwork for the tale it means I have also passed the halfway point in the story.  Yay!

I have sent it to several persons for review and I hope to get responses, good and bad, in the future, but I need to keep writing.  Interestingly, I find starting the next section in many ways as difficult in getting started on the book in the first place.

A few of the characters have strayed a bit from how I initially envisioned them acting.  Characters do that sometimes.  The overall plot is still moving in the right direction, but I can see that some sections will have to change – a lot.

Still, it is a lot of fun doing a story where you let the characters wander through their own lives in a world where major events are happening and they are actually influencing them.

As I get closer to the end and have a chance to polish the opening I think I’ll see about posting up the first couple of chapters here so people can see if it is something they might want to read or pass on to a friend.

Writing Progress

Well I have not progressed as much as I had planned to, but in spite of the entanglements of Deb’s passing I have still completed two more chapters of my novel.  Things have settled a bit and I hope to be able to do more, but there are a number of other tasks still vying for my attention.

At this moment I should be coming back from the Arisia convention in Boston, but my car had other ideas.  I’ve been given a warning about the water pump needing replacement – a task I need to take care of in the coming weeks, especially since I will also be resuming teaching college at Bristol in just a few days.

I like the way the story itself is going.  The characters seem to be doing what they think is best, and the arc of the story seems to be staying on the general outline I had envisioned.  With luck I should be past the first major section in about four more chapters.

Life continues.