Saturday, March 31, 2007

Drafting a novel

So, if you've been reading any of the bloggage you might have picked up a hint that I am currently writing a novel. Well, I want to talk a little bit more about that today. I hit a milestone today in that effort. I've completed my draft / outline.

It took me about ten months to get it completed. That includes everything from idea generation, character sketches, background sketches, research, and the actual outline. Doing an outline first is a great idea. When I was a young man, intent on becoming the next JRR Tolkien, I approached novel writing as something done "on a spiritual level." By that I mean just writing whatever came into my head. It was a lazy, sketchy way of doing things. In my adult life, I have realized the power of planning. That's what this outline is.

The outline in fact crosses over into something of a rough draft. I included more than just descriptions of events and actions. I've got lots of dialog, description, key paragraphs, etc, all written out. Of course, the outline cannot be read like a book. It doesn't flow like a story. It's like a road map that I created to help me in writing it. Hopefully, with this level of detail I won't get lost while writing.

My favorite writer, Bernard Cornwell, claims that getting the story right is almost all the work of creating a novel. Once the story is down, he says, then the writing is like falling off a log. Well, I'll see about that. Also, once the story is down then it can take a lot of abuse in terms of changes. For example, when I started this I intended it to be a first person narrative. But about three fourths of the way in I realized that this will not only make the story too short for its genre, but will also deny me chances to increase suspense and to make other characters and situations more believable. So now with the story mapped out scene by scene, I can still go in and add other viewpoint characters. In fact, I intend to add three to four more characters to add depth and layers to the story.

So I guess the outline isn't really done, is it? I guess what I originally set out to do is done. The rest stems from the changes that I've decided to make while writing. But isn't it better to have written 170 pages of outline and decide that it needs to be changed rather than writing 800 pages of novel and realizing it needs to be changed?

By now you may want to know what the story is about. Either that or you stopped reading a while ago. For those who are still reading, this is a historical adventure novel set in the height of the Viking age, the late Ninth Century. It concerns the trials and tribulations of a young Norseman who loses his home and honor to the treachery of his half brother. He becomes an outlaw and travels with a few of his companions all throughout southern Norway and parts of Frankia (modern France). His path crosses with several famous Norsemen, like Harald Fairhair who sought to unite Norway under his rule and Rollo who sacked Paris and eventually founded Normandy. During the course of the novel he will at times be an outlaw, a prisoner, a Viking, and a respected Jarl. Throughout the whole of it, there'll be plenty of hot Viking action as his destiny leads him to hack a path through Paris and back to Norway where vengeance and history awaits him.

Anyway, that's what the outline says. Who know what I might yet change?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Butcher

I'm participating in a Warmachine league and doing quite poorly in it. I felt that my warcaster (Sorscha if anyone wants to know) really stinks. So I picked up a new one, The Butcher. I don't think it's the warcaster as much as it is the player who is costing me the games. But I did have my first Warmachine win with the Butcher. Everyone says he's too difficult to play, etc, etc. But I like the model. The paint job came out very nice, much nicer than these pictures suggest. Still you can get an idea of what he looks like. I spent close to 10 hours on this guy, and I'll probably only play with him one more time before I pack him in mothballs. Good thing I like figure painting!

Dwarf Warriors

So, I've been every so slowly working on my Dwarf battalion boxed set. Here are thirteen warriors meant to round out my Battle for Skull Pass warrior unit. These look a lot better than the BfSP warriors. So maybe I'll move them to the front ranks, except for the command group of course.

As you can see, I have not based them in anything yet. They don't really have much showing for bases. So I'll probably just do sand and some clump foliage. Of course, my photography stinks. So you can't really see how well they came out. I was particularly proud of the robes for some of these guys. Here's a detail shot of the robes.

Once again Blogger will not let you expand these pictures. This feature is so goofy that I cannot figure it out. But then again, I don't think anyone is actually visiting this site. So I'm essentially talking to myself in cyberspace. I guess I've done weirder things, but this is still pretty weird. At any rate, since I have no visitors I'm not going to struggle with fixing this problem.
On the odd chance that there is a visitor, accept my apologies for the small pictures. Trust me, they are enormously sized on my computer. Don't know why it won't work on Blogger.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

So, yesterday was my birthday. I'm now an extremely handsome and charming age of 39. This isn't all that bad. I still have one more year to evasively answer age questions with replies like, "I'm in my thirties. How old do I look?" Of course next year I've scheduled myself to have a a total emotional collapse at turning 40. Stay tuned as I prepare for it.....

I know this is a cliche, but where does the time go? My parents warned me that after having kids life would go by fast. I just had one, and my life has reached warp speed. I think if I had a second child my life would probably be over by now.

Well, this is depressing me. So let's talk about my birthday gifts! Despite being middle aged, I'm still treated like a child on my birthday --- I insist upon it. So, you know that my gift list was filled with Warhammer models. So here's the take. Warhammer fans can be jealous starting right now:
  1. Ogre Kingdoms battalion box
  2. One box of Tyranid gaunts (half way to a unit of Hormagaunts!)
  3. One Tyranid Ravener

This year my son, who is 10, decided that he wanted to buy me gifts with his own money. So he got me:

  1. One Tyranid Ravener
  2. One Dwarf Engineer

So I got a good mix of Fantasy and 40K models. Of course, this produces a tremendous backlog of things to do. I've still got all my Dwarfs from my Xmas haul to paint yet. I'm moving at such a painfully slow pace with them. I just finished 11 warriors last night, and it took me a few weeks of painting to do that. Of course, I've been on and off with them during this time. So I've got to get motivated and paint faster. I'll post up a picture or two of these Dwarfs when I have a chance. Right now, I'm going to go get some leftover birthday cake!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Battle for Skull Pass Dwarfs

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm getting ready to paint up a Dwarf battalion box. That's a lot of models, about 44 of them in fact. I've always liked the Dwarfs, and while I'm not sure if they're really "me" in terms of play style, they are certainly fun to model and paint. So I'm going in on an army for that alone.

I've decided to show the Dwarfs that I have painted. These all come from the Battle for Skull Pass starter boxed set. I completed these over Christmas vacation last year. I had injured my back and couldn't do much of anything. So I painted all of these models. I have yet to decide how to base them. I've got some ideas for a "sand and scrub" type of thing. But the Dwarfs cover so much of their bases, this might not work.

At any rate, here are the Dwarfs. These are the first models for which I ever painted eyes with an iris. In these close ups, they sort of look freaky to me. On the tabletop, however, you can't even tell I painted the eyes. No matter what, they were good practice for me.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Random Thoughts

So, no pictures tonight, in fact no projects to put up. I've recently begun tracking my site traffic and have become depressed. It seems I'm the only one checking in here. Of course, that's probably because I started this blog about two weeks ago. I guess I shouldn't be too depressed yet.

I do have several projects in the works. I just completed assembling the contents of a Warhammer Dwarf Battalion box. That's a lot of Dwarfs there. I've never played a game with them. But I like the models and I like the fluff (their back story, for the uninitiated among you). So I'm painting them. Besides, it will be nice to play a game of Warhammer with troops that don't run away at the first sign of trouble, like my Orcs and Goblins can do.

After these Dwarfs I have some Ogre Kingdoms stuff to work on. I've got a box of Ogre bulls and a Butcher to work on. I'll probably throw in some Ironguts and a Tyrant as well to round things out. I'm not sure if I'll play these guys at 2,000 points or not. I was thinking of keeping them to a warband sized force.

On other project fronts, I've got the itch to continue to work in colored pencils. So I'll probably be putting together another girlie painting before long. But I also promised my wife that I'd do a portrait of my son for his 10th birthday. I did one for his 5th, and so it needs to be updated.

Would I shock anyone if I also admitted that I've been drafting out a novel? I've been working on an outline / draft of a novel since last May. It's a historical novel set in the Viking age, and not surprisingly it's about Vikings. I've got to give myself some credit for sticking with it, since I'll be finishing the outline soon. This is not your typical outline format, by the way. It combines a lot of description, some dialog, plot tension, etc. It will probably run about 200 single spaced typed pages when it's finished. I'll have to blog about that project as well. It's probably easier to blog about it rather than actually write it.

So, as you can see from all this, I'm very focused on myself and things I do alone. This also might explain why I'm not very achieving in my day job! I've got too much going on in my fantasy world.