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12 to Midnight

The Big Push

09.09.05 | 1 Comment

Yesterday I focused on Skinwalker. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Skinwalker is Jerry Blakemore’s adventure based on the Native American legend roughly equivelant to the German doppleganger. The original plan was to publish it by May, but Modern Dispatch and a pair of “quick” projects (Fear Effects and Brainwashed) pretty much ate up the summer. Not that progress wasn’t being made. We’ve been through one complete round of edits and rewrites. It has already passed from Ed’s second round edits and now is in my hands. I only got through ten pages last night, but I hope to finish it this weekend.

Skinwalker is cool in that it is totally open ended. After the first few encounters, the heroes drive the adventure in a way many published adventures don’t allow. Certainly none of mine. I’m “Mr. Linear” all the way. Anyway, Skinwalker is written in a series of building blocks. Most encounters can happen in any order, and it is completely up to the GM to decide when the adventure has reached a suitable climax. This level of flexibility is both liberating and a bit scary at the same time. The GM has so much flexibility that unless he has read through the module a couple of times before running it, he might feel lost. The writing is tight. My job in this round of edits is to make sure everything flows the way it should and that the GM can easily identify where to jump in the module when the heroes take a sudden right turn.

Writing adventures has taught me a whole new level of appreciation for structure. How do the elements of a story flow together? Does one scene logically flow into another? Are we asking characters (either GM or player) to make unreasonable leaps of logic for the sake of what we think is cool? This morning I answered a freelancer’s question about our house style and how we structure adventures. You wouldn’t believe how much thought has gone into things like what makes a section a section and a subsection a subsection. Good structure goes unnoticed. Bad structure is annoying. Really bad structure leaves readers confused.

In addition to editing the manuscript, I also sent out art assignments. We already have four pieces of art, and we’re looking at another four or more by the time we’re done. Unfortunately, our artist is currently illustrating a children’s book, but we’ve already had one false start with another artist and it’s important to me that we have a consistent artistic style throughout. He’ll be available in a couple of weeks, which is fine. I had held off doing the first art assignments until I got my hands on the manuscript so I could make sure they were spaced out. Now in the second round I see we have some sections moved around and damn if two images aren’t back to back. Depending on how the text flows they could even end up competing for the same page. Then we’ll have a dozen pages following with no art at all. The closer the manuscript gets to being locked in, the more comfortable I’ll feel about art assignments.

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1 Comment

Comment by Jerry
2005-09-10 13:23:28

Ooh? If the art is too close we can throw in some SW Indian or Druidic sketches. Simple stuff. Nothing intense. Something that appeals to the eye and provides a feel for the symbolism..

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