The Endless Wars: The Descent

The Endless Wars: The Descent itunes (coming soon) The Endless Wars: The Descent

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Lore and World-Building

I play a lot of RPGs and I read a lot of huge, sprawling science fiction and fantasy series. Among my favorites are Bioware's Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, as well as George R. R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice & Fire' ('Games of Thrones' on TV), and a handful of others. In each of these properties, there's a huge amount of lore and fully fleshed-out worlds, both of which make the experience so much more immersive, and really give it more of an 'escapist' feel, something for which I strive, given how much I enjoy it myself.

When I started crafting the Endless Wars universe, I approached it with a blissful naivete that very much empowered me to write the first novel with very few concerns, and even less caution. It's a great story that's supported by a youthful lack of foresight inherent to the 'fuck it all' kind of young man I was at that time.

Now, being a more seasoned writer whose tastes have expanded beyond Star Wars and Lethal Weapon (though I still love both dearly), the second novel has demanded that I actually start organizing and more fully fleshing out the world(s) of Endless Wars. This novel is so much bigger and more ambitious than the first, it's frankly somewhat intimidating.

The first challenge I had was finding when to start the current story in the series' chronology. If you've read the first book, you know that the series extends over a vast expanse of time, as well as universes other than this one.

See, the hard part was that I'd written the first novel when I was in my very early twenties. I then moved on to some film and music projects, dabbled with some short stories, wrote big chunks of other series, and false-started on the sequel several times. The next thing I knew, I was in my mid-thirties and wasn't the same man I was over a decade before.

After a lot of thinking and tinkering, I finally found my way back in, and the writing has been progressing.

What became apparent, though, was that I'd never actually written out a lot of the lore or the rules of the world(s). I had it all in my head, or in the first book, but I didn't have strong documentation. Having an IT background, such is anathema.

I knew what the relationship was between Lord Dell and Ravindranathan, but hadn't really fully articulated it. I knew what Raphael's true mission was, but hadn't actually written it out. I had a rough history of the various guilds and covens, but hadn't fully organized their hierarchies. I knew what had happened to Layne, but couldn't remember what his girlfriend's name was.

That first novel is, by my standards, a fairly lean, but well-toned, book, and it contained a wealth of knowledge that I'd never compiled into a single, easily-searchable database.

To that end, I started two side projects. One was a OneNote notebook that I could easily edit on the fly, and the other was a wiki (that I've yet to touch at all.) The OneNote is ... coming along. Sort of. It's getting there. Well, it has to.

***side note - if you want to pitch in and help with the wiki, I'll be very, very thankful and throw you a shout-out in the next novel! Just let me know!***

What I've been finding is that it's one thing to have a very strong vision for a world, but it's another to take that macrosopic view and drill down to the microscopic details.

I've just never been an organized writer. I don't really work with outlines. I tend to just be guided by feel and instinct. I have a rough idea of where things are going, but I love the thrill of getting there organically, and surprising myself. That's a fine way to work, but when world-building, you have to have rules, you have to have knowledge ready to go. Otherwise, you can commit the most grievous of sins: a lack of continuity. Nothing shatters the fiction like contradicting your own world.

Another thing is that this book isn't as tidy as the first. There are concurrent storylines in it, and that makes the organization all the more necessary. I need to make sure that all these threads don't tangle. Well, that, and I'm playing a dangerous game with two of the storylines that is bound to cause confusion for some, but will hopefully be a beautiful 'aha' moment for many.

Well, maybe. I floated a rough draft of the first few chapters by a very smart fellow writer and that person didn't at all grasp the trick I was playing, which of course led to a tantrum on my part. This person is a brilliant individual, and yet missed a few key, but very subtle details that kept them from fully enjoying the story.

That raises another question. Do I write for the audience or do I write for me? I know that seems like a 'duh' question to many, but it's a question with which I've wrestled for years, and is probably the main reason I'm so sporadic in my publishing. I always set out to craft the book/film/album/game that I've always wanted, but haven't been able to find, which implies that I'm writing for me. However, doesn't that defeat the purpose of then sharing and monetizing the project when I've finished it?

I usually find that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I suspect that's true here, as well.

The E-Book
So, I've been asked when the first EW book is making its way back to Kindle, Nook, and iBooks. It's coming, but not tomorrow. First, I need to buy another ISBN for it (which is my choice, so that I own all the rights to it instead of  my publisher), then I need to redo some of the formatting so that it makes a nice .epub file. The .epub conversion is a pain in the ass, and because of other commitments (the second novel, plus some musical work this winter), we're looking at spring 2013 at the earliest.

One thing I've always wanted to do is borrow from what visual media does with things like 'extras.' I'd like to pack in a 'commentary track,' so to speak. Right now, I'm thinking about, in the .epub file, at the end of each chapter, having a button for 'next chapter' and a button for 'commentary.' The commentary will be a brief write-up of some interesting insight and ramblings on the content of the previous chapter, while the 'next chapter' button jumps over it. At the end will be an essay about writing the book, editing it, publishing it, and all the 'life' things that went along with it.

I'm not sure, though. I'll have to play with it a bit. I guess the idea would be that you'd read the book without the commentary, and then go back, skim the chapter to refresh yourself, and then read the commentary. I dunno. I'm just spitballing at this point.

I've also considered adding 'deleted scenes,' but they're so fucking awful (to everyone but John) that I'm not really feeling that at this point. I mean, they got cut for a reason. Because they suck! Who wants to read that shit?

We'll see.

In Closing
I like writing about writing here. Sometimes it feels a bit masturbatory, and I think I got a little self-conscious about that. I'm friends with other writers, and some of them work really hard at having a 'writer' image, which I've always found a bit obnoxious. It's like they put on a uniform in order to be part of something larger, and I've never really been comfortable in that space. I shouldn't judge, though. If it helps someone write amazing shit, then the world is a better place for it.

That being said, I'd like to come back here and just write more often. I'm far more self-conscious than I'd like to admit, and I need to get over that. This is probably good therapy.

Anyway, that's all.


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