Tzalaran's favorite hangout, hence it is the name of my blog on the web. Here i'll talk about the writing of "Scales of the Assassin", working title of the start of Tzalaran's saga, and give background information on the world Tzal lives in.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My love of Scrivener for Windows

Normally i don't gush about software, as i find most of it adequate for its purposes, but with this app i'm not even touching the surface of it yet and i'm finding it left open on my workstation at all times.  i need to take some time to watch the tutorials so that i can use the app to its fullest potential, but just playing around with it in my world-building project it is going to make such a more effective way of making the encyclopedia it just staggers me.

i've had a 3 ring binder for about 12 years that contains all the notes and such i've already made.  much of them are now obsolete, but i always find gems of things i'd never thought about and there are rough notes of storylines and populations in these areas.  with the binder area of scrivener, i can set up folders with large headings, and then have subfolders that go into detail.  i should also be able to add images and maps once they are scanned in and completed in the case of my digital ones.

anyway, for any writer, whatever the type, look into this program because it is worth every penny.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

progress update 1 - SotF

i'm about 250 words away from 50,000.  i'm almost through the 3rd act (attack) having five and a half scenes to finish in it.  i'll need to rework the second and third quarters during my rewrite, but i really like the last few scenes that i did.

As i think i've mentioned before on this blog, i got Scrivener for Windows and have been using it for this project.  One of the things that i'm most interested in using it for is an encyclopedia of the world that i can do with it.  i'm doing some basic brainstorming on how i can best organize it.  Most useful right now would be an encyclopedia for the city of Karat-Si'Zan, and to a lesser extent Tillia (particularly Tolzar, which i might end up writing a Trilogy about the murder of the king and the subsequent struggle for power that ensues among the 4 wardens underneath the king because the surviving heir is in Karat-Si'Zan when the revolution takes place).  Anyway, an encyclopedia would make it much easier for other people to play their fantasy RPG of choice in the world, and i think that would be pretty cool.

Looking forward to finishing up the drafting phase of this novel and getting into the revising stage.  i'm planning on splitting my time at that point between revising this novel (half my time) and rewriting SotA (half my time).  There will be quite a few changes to SotA, but certain scenes will come over verbatim.  i'll expand on the end explorations in the pit, and add a layer of battling in the hollows with thugs that are threatening his boss.  that will lead to him finding out that the #2 house in K-S is behind the problems in the hollows and sets out to take them down in the third book.

i'm getting flashes of scenes from those books, and it should be fun working towards getting the whole story out.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 29 & 30

well, i made it to half my goal, and not quite enough to "win" at Nano.  got to 45,258.

i did much better than a few years ago when i tried Nano, and above everything it got me to the point where i just put words to the page.  I'm getting a solid skeleton, and will have to flesh it out a bunch to where i can take it somewhere (the entire prologue is going to be redone, but i think that i need the non-first person perspective to introduce the character and world).

Dialog is going to be another aspect i have to rework.  just need to make sure that all the other characters sound like them, and not Tzal.

Hoping to keep making progress like i did the last two weeks, but have a bunch more world building to do in order to make the next section flow like the first quarter did.  also need to plot out the flashback sequence i skipped.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Days 27 & 28

i'm up to 41,500 words.  will have to match what i've been writing each day to reach 50,000, but i'm optimistic that i can do that for the last 2 days.  i'd like to finish my word count tomorrow, but i don't see that happening at the current rate i'm drafting.

have so much work to do on this novel.  need to flesh out characters more and make them each their own voice instead of it all sounding like my main character.  funny how i thought i was so ready to write this and as i draft i come up with all these things that should have been taken care of during my brainstorming phase.  i guess i slacked on that a bit more than i thought.  live and learn i guess.

going to have to finish off my map of the city so that i can figure out all the paths Tzal takes through the city so that i could adjust how the scenes where he's walking through the city turn out.  right now the city is still flat, and i think that spicing up those journeys will help to bring the city to life more than it currently is.

i'm glad that i participated in this to learn what a massive word count deadline is like, but it has been hard.  i've learned a bit about myself and my writing habits by doing this though, and i think that will help me become the writer i want to be.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

days 21-26

progress comes slowly, but it comes.  With 3 days left to go, i need about 15,000 words to reach 50,000.

i've run into some worldbuilding snags that i didn't foresee, and i've tried to just move on anyway but that hasn't had the best of results.  so far today i've gotten close to 38,000 words, and i still have some hours left to write.  i'm almost to the mid point of the novel, and i skipped one scene because it gave me problems on top of problems (it is a flashback scene to the main character's training in the elite forces of the mercenary company, and i'm not sure what i need that scene to be just yet... anyway, i got stuck on it and finally skipped it and moved on).

liked a few of the scenes that i've written up to now, but there is a bunch of work i have left to do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 18 - 20

didn't get much done over the past two days, but today i crossed the 26,000 word mark.  i've gotten through  the first plot point, and am dealing with the scene that will introduce the primary antagonist of this novel.  i'm fairly pleased with the words i've gotten, i think the scenes i'm writing are pretty strong, but they will need significant work, particularly in the dialog.  However, i'm massively behind in my word count in order to reach the 50,000, let alone my 90k goal.  i know my desk ergonomics is hurting my productivity, but i've made it the best i can.  The few times where i hit a groove and the fingers continually hit the keyboard i'm getting about 1000 words per hour.  however, there are far too many times were i get nowhere near that because my fingers don't hit the keyboard that fast.

i'm hoping that tonight and tomorrow i can find a groove and bust out some words, so wish me luck.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 17

i feel really good about the progress i made today.  i'm up to 23,126 words, and i just finished the scene with the first plot point.  i really, really hate my keyboard and desk situation right now, making it very hard for me to write for long periods without my wrists/elbows/shoulder hurting, but i'm getting into the frame where the novel is writing itself, i'm just acting as an interpreter.  i'll need some good polishing on what i'm drafting now, but there are certain things i like as well.

might draft a bit more tonight, but then again i might not.  still need 27,000 more words to hit the nano goal, and i have 13 days to do it, so need to write a bit over 2000 words per day in order to "win" nano.  i'll still have another 40,000 words to finish the book at that point, so i'd like to keep up my 3.5 - 4k words per day as that would get me very close to finishing my draft before Dec 7th.  Here's to progress...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Days 13 - 16

Been getting more time to write, but having some problems in parts.  up to 19,750 words, and am about 3 scenes from the first plot point (inciting incident).  i'm going to need to rework things significantly, especially the dialog, and i need to make it clear that Tzal is not liked.  i think i got that pretty solid in one scene, but his relationship with Xriza, the klepto dal-shiz cub that shows him around Karat-Si'Zan, makes it difficult so far.

Anyway, lots of work left to do, i'm massively behind schedule but am starting to make progress in larger chunks, getting scenes out and moving on to the next.  should get some of the next scene written tonight, but figured i'd post my progress before i forgot.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Days 9-12

i'm up to 14,191 words.  didn't get a lot words wise, but did get through some sticky points and think tha ti'll be able to pick up steam from here on out, as the portion in the set-up that i didn't have really well thought out helped keep me stuck for the time being.

Had a scene that popped up as i was writing, and i'll need to rework it but i'm pretty pleased with how it will tie into later things, and it fits in the set-up of this work and foreshadows things that occur later.  taking me longer than i'd like, but i'm getting some good scenes i think...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Days 6 - 8

Life got in the way of writing, and i had some things that were not going forward the way i needed.  i finally got through that and am up to 11,543 words total, 1769 of those from this morning.  averaging 1000 words an hour today, but my keyboard/desk are really not comfortable and i have to rest from time to time.  need to think about swapping this keyboard for the one on the server, but oh well.

going to try and write as much as possible for the next 5 hours, and see how far i can get caught up.  i'm liking some of what i'm getting down, but it is going to need a significant amount of polish.  i'm getting in a few foreshadowing points that i'll need to highlight later, but for now i'm pretty pleased with what i've gotten even if i am behind on my word count.  need to be at 30k by the end of tomorrow, so have a long way to catch up...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 5

Added 1000 words.  Things came up and words weren't coming to me like they did in earlier parts.  still, made progress but not close to what i needed.  still i'm up to 9774 words, well on the way to making the 50,000 goal, but well short of what i'd need to be at to reach 90,000.  i'm optimistic that i'll be able to get caught back up over the next couple of days, but words will have to come much better than they have been in order for that to happen.

fell asleep before updating last night, so figured i'd update before i get writing today.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 4

Busy day, and writing didn't happen.  i might have gotten 200 words because we had company and other... issues.

Going to get started early tomorrow, and try and get caught back up.  i'm optimistic that i can make some substantial progress.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3

Well, i've made some good progress today.  finished the next scene.  it took quite a few words, but i think this will end up being a really solid scene for the set up.  it established that the MC is a certifiable nightmare and that he's on the run from an organization he's scared of.  i'm up to 6967 words, so 2355 words added so far today.

Thats the closest i've come to my 3000 word a day goal yet, and i'm going to get a start on the next scene before i get to bed.  hopefully i'll be able to make this kind of progress again tomorrow, and start getting ahead of my word goal instead of chasing it a bit.  I'm starting to like what i'm writing again, don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing...

Edit:  Got more than i planned on done.  i'm up to 8673 words.  that puts me pretty close to back on track to where i want to be in order to finish the whole novel in one month.  just over 4000 words today, and i think the story is moving forward well.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2

Well, i've got an hour to go yet, but so far i'm up to 3489 words.  finished off the prologue (562 words) and wrote the first scene (1118 words) so far.  Plan on starting, maybe finishing the next scene tonight, and that will get me closer to the 6000 word goal for the end of the night.  i did end up writing another article on newsvine, but that was probably 500 words and didn't take overly long.

i really liked the opening paragraph from the first scene back in Tzal's perspective.  gave some good imagery.  i don't like the prologue at all, but i knew that it would need a rewrite because i'm not used to writing in third person so it came out more like i was a director or writing a play... wasn't good at all i guess is the overall point.

1680 words so far, hope to get another 2000 but i don't see that happening in an hour.

Edit:  got the next scene done and another 1123 words.  sitting at 4612 total, so about the same amount behind my desired pace, and we'll see how much i can catch up tomorrow.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNo Day 1

Decided to do NaNoWriMo this year, and i figure that posting to the blog is the best way to keep track of my progress. Day one has been somewhat productive, but it was a significant amount of words not coming like i wanted them to. Right now i'm just focused on getting the story moving, and i'll come back and polish it in an editing pass. Normally, NaNo is a 50,000 word count goal, but in order to finish the book from front to back, i'll need to hit 80-90 k. As such, i'm well short of my 3,000 words for the day, getting 1809. i'm thinking that tomorrow will be much better, and i might have to trade keyboards to make typing a bit more comfortable, cause this one is better for gaming due to its size (one hand keyboard one hand mouse its great, typing makes my shoulders hurt a bit).

Anyway, didn't like any of the words i wrote today. That isn't all that surprising considering how out of practice i am, and this was the scene that i knew would need tweaking after i finish the novel to make sure that the hook is strong, and the foreshadowing is done right. This is also the first thing i've written not in first person Tzalaran persona. It's really choppy for that reason, but i'll fix it up once i'm done. I'm looking forward to writing the bulk of this book, with what i've planned out i think it should be pretty engaging and fun to write.

i spent the past month filling out a few of the worksheets from, beat sheet and the most important writing tool on one page. Having both of those filled out should really help in the drafting and revising process, because i know the story so much better than i did before. Still need to flesh out the city and a few other things, but i'll have plenty of time to brainstorm that on other days.

I picked up Scrivner for Windows last month, and for any writer it is simply a great tool for the price. i am loving the kinds of planning you can use it for, and it is a great way to build up an encyclopedia for a world building project like mine. anyway, it gets the Horned Devil stamp of approval as a top notch writing and worldbuilding tool.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back up and running, for how long we can't say

My computer magically recovered from a nasty freezing problem that had put me down for a couple weeks. i had actually booted it up just to find out what my processor was (good thing i checked too, cause it wasn't what i thought), and i was looking on the LAN server (have a P4 1.6 Ghz server that runs a UT2k4 server that the wife, boys and i frag each other on from time to time) for new mobos and i noticed that my rig was booting. i'd totally stripped it clean except for the proc and mobo, so i added a HD and was able to reinstall, and as of now i have all my rig back (haven't set up my tablet yet, and still have some programs to get reinstalled but my program drives were fine) and just lost everything in my documents (had some awesome reference pictures that weren't backed up as well as my resumes and such).

Have been running a game in Tolzar biweekly, and that is starting to heat up. I'd forgotten how difficult a party of 12 is to run, but having 5 knights with lances tends to even odds well in the barbarian tundra. Starting to get a feel for what will challenge them, and the session coming up should provide for much enjoyment.

With playing in this setting, i'm really developing the Tillian state of Tolzar, and the feudal monarchy that governs the state. I've set the players up to be one of the major noble families, and after the excursion into the barbarian tundra to thwart the bear tribe from marching on the other tribes, they'll be dropped into a world of political intrigue and ambition when a demon kills the king (and possibly takes his form, it will kind of depend on if the party figures out who the demon is before them) when their family comes to the capital so the sons of the family can be knighted by the king, and get minor holdings of their own.

their first encounter went very well, and i was able to plant a recurring bad guy in their midst, but they are starting to catch some of the clues that will lead them to finding the demon in time to stop it from taking the place of the king (the king dying is going to set off a scramble for the crown as his heir is going to be assassinated in the upcoming days, and his youngest son is off on a mission to Karat-Si'Zan to try and find allies in the upcoming war.

It has been good for me to look at this from the Tolzar perspective, and i've been running a Friday night game for kids (my two boys, and another couple of friends children who are about that age and interested in playing) set in Karat-Si'Zan. they have had fun running around in the pit, and they got to bust up an opposing crimelords best business last week and had great fun doing so.

i'll get some of the background that i've been working on posted as i get it typed up. right now it is all pencil scribbles and doodles.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Been working on a couple of things the past week. One for a D&D session i'll be running starting the end of Jan, the other more background for the arrangement in Karat-Si'Zan. The key to this is the relationship between the Zultan and the lords of Karat-Si'Zan, as the lords rule what is effectively multiple thieves guilds/mafia crime families who control the activity of Karat-Si'Zan in order to suck the most wealth possible out of the populous. it is a very effective strategy, and generally keeps the populous happy and unknowing of how they are manipulated to provide those at the top an excessive way of life.

The Zultan is the ruler of Sarlion, and Karat-Si'Zan is the capital, but the Zultan has other concerns than just the capital city. Axius fleets of Noricum carracks have recently been repelled by the war barges of Sarlion, and the Zultan is worried that the next invasion fleet will be unstoppable. The lords have manipulated laws in order to maximize their profits, making psychodelics and other intoxicants and contraband an income stream for the crimelords. The vices of the people help to keep them susceptible to this arrangement, and with the Zultan's redcloaks able to march into the city to instill order if necessary, the people of the city generally work with the hired muscle of the lords. It is easier than resisting.

The most powerful house generally leads the assembly of lords, only seven of which are able to vote on matters put forth. Currently, this leaves out many of the nobles, as Brendon, Zhepnotz, and Kruz-Alzeen have no family with which to back them, and have achieved their position due to their own personal skills. These seats are the primary motivation behind the covert warfare and assassinations that are performed in the shadows of Karat-Si'Zan.

Now to start fleshing out the individual houses and guilds, seeing the natural and forced alliances, and determining what happens from there.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Long time no post

There is a reason i haven't posted here in a while. i haven't been writing.

Such a strange job, writing. It can be infinitely satisfying at one time, and just as devastating the next. Very much a project of discipline and determination, where you have to just have an iron coated exterior while still being able to listen to criticism and make yourself better. in that, i failed.

Not one to stay beaten down forever, i came back this project recently. The holes are there for me once again, and i'm no longer thinking about getting published with this novel. i'm writing the book that i want to write, and i don't care if it ends up being a 500,000 word (or longer) epic. i'm still going to study the actual craft of writing and edit as thoroughly as possible, and keep it from being something that is slow at any point, but i need to break away from the thought that this could be a way to make a living. It can only be a project that i enjoy to work on, or else it won't happen.

In that vein, i'm currently brainstorming the setup of the lords and Zultan of the city. The story i will write is the total of Tzalaran's activities in Karat-Si'Zan, and to pull this off i'll have to come up with more of the city's political and criminal organization than i'd worked on before. This has me fairly excited and eager to work on it, and as such i might post here a bit more regularly.