At the end of last week, I blogged about the Forsaken Demesne of the Demon’s Cultists and my September 30,000-word challenge. Loads of people asked be kept apprised of my progress and so without further ado, I give you my first update!
Essentially, I’m delighted to be able to say that writing is going extremely well. In case you were wondering, I measure my success against two criteria:
- Am I enjoying myself?
- Am I hitting my daily word count?
At time of writing (12 September) my word count stands at 18,351, which is 6,351 words (or six days) ahead of schedule. Put another way, I’ve averaged 1,529 words a day. I’ve found filling in this graph very motivational—I’d rather scratch my eyes out than have the black line (my progress) dip below the blue line (the daily target).
I hate being late or behind so I’m chuffed to have some days in the bank. (As an aside, I’m a very target-orientated person—I absolutely work best when I have a deadline or target.) I’m also particularly happy because I’m still doing everything else I normally do in regards to life and Raging Swan Press.
But word count isn’t the be-all and end-all (although—obviously—it’s a pretty central part of the challenge). What’s more important is that I’m having fun—which I am! It’s a blast sitting down every day to bang out 1,000 (or more) words.
A big part of my enjoyment come from two things:
Adventures in Shadow
I’m writing this for my campaign first (and publication second). Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll have the complete first draft of an adventure I can playtest with my chums, which is handy as my Adventures in Shadow campaign is imminently restarting!
I started this project with only a vague idea of what the final adventure would look like. Essentially, my only source material was the write up of the Alanen family manor from Village Backdrop Greystone. While I still don’t have a final vision in mind, I’m getting a lot closer as the month goes by!
Not following a set synopsis or vision has been quite liberating. On any given day, I’ve simply written what I fancy writing. Some days, I work on describing the various encounter areas in the crumbling manor while on other days I slave away over stat blocks.
The downside to this scheme is that I’ve already designed a lot of the “low-hanging” fruit. As the month goes on, the design will get harder. For example, I’ve got some sinister traps and effects for important areas to design and I don’t yet have a clue about how they’ll work.
One weird thing I’ve noticed is that as I get to the harder pieces of the design—things that don’t seem to just slither out of my brain, the compulsion to write something else grows! I guess this is my brain’s way of trying to avoid hard work. On the plus side, I’ve had ideas for another three adventures. On the negative side, I can’t write them at the moment—if I start them, this project is doomed!
One strategy I’ve found useful in hitting word count is to decide at the end of the writing day what I’m going to write the next day. For example, tomorrow is gargoyle stat block day or treasure write-up day. Doing so seems to dump the subject in my subconscious which then gets to ruminate on the subject overnight. Go subconscious!
Upcoming Challenge of Dread
As you might know, actually drawing maps is only of my biggest problem areas—my drawing skills are terrible. At some point in the near future, I’m going to have to create rough maps of the manor and the locales beneath to pass onto the mega-talented Tommi Salama. Even worse, the maps won’t count against word count!
Got Design Advice For Me?
Have you got any hints or tips to help my design? Please let me know, in the comments below.