On to the next

So I turned in my final version of the GM section of Red Markets last Monday (a day early I might add), and had a signed contract for the history/setting section by Thursday. 😃

I did manage to pull the GM section's word count under 70k — 69,953 to be precise. So that made me happy. But I am definitely ready to not look at the GM section again for at least a month. I'm reasonably sure I've got part of the d100 table memorized. And not any of the entries I wrote either.

So the setting section. This contract is working a little differently than the previous two. The Player's section and the GM's section were complete before Caleb and I had the contracts for those in place. Which let us have exact numbers of words I was responsible for editing, which could also be handed off to me in one file.

The setting section is still being written.

First, let me be clear — that's completely reasonable to me. I have no idea when Caleb started migrating the setting information from his brain to paper, but I'm confident it was after he had a game put together. So you know, after he'd already written over 163K words of rules. Second, not only does he have a day job, but he's also doing the project manager thing on the Red Markets book, in addition to writing.

So this contract, for the first time, has a cap on how many words it covers. I don't know if having a ceiling on his word count is going to be motivating or restraining for Caleb, but the possibility of having to write, edit, proof, and get signed a second contract sure would be for me. What can I say, minor annoyances can motivate some hard goal setting for myself.

Meanwhile, I've got the "History of the Crash" section in hand to edit while Caleb finishes up the setting part. 

And I am in love with the narrator's voice.

I got fourteen pages in before my inner editor finally kicked hard enough that I did my usual first step of enforcing the capitalization guide. (And before anyone asks, it was the double dashes where there should be em-dashes that did it. 1) I blame Scrivener's export function and 2) good grief am I nerd.) I love her sass, I love how unflinching she is, and I love her nerdiness. I was already excited about being involved in publishing Red Markets, but I am so looking forward to Gnat making it out into the wild.

Normally I don't get political on this blog. But if you're in the US and eligible, please, for the love of everything you hold holy, get the fuck out there and VOTE on Tuesday. More importantly, VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON. And all the down-ballot races.

All the Editing

I am coming up on a deadline for editing the current section of Red Markets I'm under contract for. This is the GM's section and I am currently fighting to bring it under 70K words. As of writing this post, I've only got 232 more words to shave off to meet that goal. Which by the way, was not one set by Caleb. His line, I believe, was 'cut as much as possible' — I'm the one trying to hit a specific word count. 

I've gone from cutting an entire sidebar (about four paragraphs), to pulling sentences, to rephrasing clauses because the rephrased version uses one or two words less. I've read and reread this section so many times I think I've started to memorize passages. The other day I had to use the search function to check if a topic had already been mentioned, because the information's been in my head so long I just can't remember ordering anymore. 

You know that thing when you write and you've written a draft and written another draft and rewritten your story so many times, you're not sure what actually happens in your finished story and what ended up cut? I'm hitting that as an editor. ... I may be just a wee bit neurotic about making enough passes.

I do think the editing down is going to have been easier on this section than the next one up for contract. Next up is going to be in-universe fiction, instead of the primarily rules-based technical writing of the GM's section. And while I'm going to really enjoy the fiction, I find it more ambiguous when to cut words in fiction. Technical writing, the question to ask is 'does this bit of writing support teaching the rule?' Fiction, I think the question is going to be 'does this passage support the feel of the game the author is going for?' And based on his writing so far, the answer is always going to be yes.

Eh, maybe I'm borrowing trouble. Maybe I'm borrowing the wrong trouble, too — going to be moving further into killing the author's darlings with fiction after all. 

Either way, it'll be fun.

Going cross-eyed over here

I think I never want to write a 'to' again...

So I've finished an editing pass on the player's section of Red Markets focused on cutting words. Started with 98,304 on June 27th, finished up a couple days ago (July 8th) having got it down to 95,115. Three thousand may not seem like much (it's about 3% of the original), but I'm pretty pleased. To get substantially more, I'd have to start throwing out ideas and complete rules sets. Major no-no, that would be.

Twelve days to work through 98K words feels pretty good. I did this first pass by really grinding away at the sentence structure level, until about halfway through something clicked in my brain and I could see the sentences and occasional paragraph that should come out. The two examples I could condense down into one. Things like that. I mean, I was also copy-editing for the misplaced commas and whatnot at the time, so a sentence level focus feels right. But a second pass is definitely in order, this time with that willingness to yank sentences I developed in the first pass.

Directly after finishing up the first pass, I started making these shorter passes looking for specific things. And by shorter passes, I mean I used the find/replace function to step through the document to only look at specific words. Passes I did:
'It's vs. its'
'Affect vs. effect'
'Numbers vs. digits'
'There, their, and they're'
'Your vs. you're'
'Hear vs here'
'We're, were, and where'
A pass to double check the instances of 'will' future tense
and the one that really made me go cross-eyed:

'Too, two, and to'

'Too' and 'two' weren't so bad. But do you know how many 'to's there were in 98K words?? 3122. Three thousand, one hundred, and twenty-two. And I touched/laid eyes on every. single. one. You know how many needed to be cut or changed?


Copy-editing == a neurotic drive towards perfectionism. Oy gevalt. 


The editorial meeting when the author and I discuss my proposals is going to be interesting. I'm going to be advocating moving an entire section from the player's section to the game master's section. Also advocating for a reordering of a major section of mechanics (negotiations). And defending a couple subsection reorderings I just went ahead and did.

Text isn't great about conveying the presence or absence of sarcasm, but I want to be perfectly clear: I really am looking forward to that meeting and debating those changes. 

Pretty sure that means I'm in the right job. 

On to Editing

With half the votes, Poor Private Collins is my next writing project. Hurray small sample sizes! (Seriously, with four votes, two people got to decide what I'll write next.)

So, I thought I'd have a week or two between when the last post went up and editing Red Markets would get started. But uh, well. No. Caleb is a smart project manager and sent me a contract for building the project style guide pretty much as soon as he caught his breath from the pledges blasting through his goal. On day one of the Kickstarter. :) 

The project style guide is done and hopefully in use by a freelancer or two by now. As for me, I'm on to editing the player's section of the core book. Roughly 98K words in this section, which comes out to 195 pages in Word. I've got a day job so most of the work on this project has been happening during my lunch break (and whatever time I can squeeze out after dinner). With that consideration, I'm quite pleased to be on page 94 at this point. Less pleased that I'd intended this pass to be the 'kill-your-darlings' pass and it's turning into the clarity check. (Kill-your-darlings is a phrase at least a few writers I know use for taking out those lovely turns of phrase which have made it through iteration upon iteration of writing but don't work so well anymore, because all the surrounding text has changed.) A clarity pass is absolutely necessary to be sure, but wouldn't it'd be more effective to check for clarity after cutting text? Oh well, I knew there'd be multiple passes through this document.

Time to ignore some household chores and devote more time to editing. Aiming to get through the gear list in the next day or two. 

Getting ready to run a game

We’re going to be recording some play tests of new RPG systems for the next couple of sessions over at Technical Difficulties and I’m on tap as the GM next session. New, successfully kickstarted, Powered-by-the-Apocalypse cyberpunk system - the cyberpunk is why I’m the GM, this being more my wheelhouse than anyone else’s. So we finalized our recording schedule last session, namely last Saturday. Which gives me one week to read a new system and come up with a scenario... Okay. I got this. I swear.

First thought: Gibson. Shamelessly steal plot from Gibson. Try Burning Chrome. Short stories will be faster to reread and it’s only going to be a 2 or 3 hour session. Novel plot will take longer.

Second thought: Does this system have a quickstart guide? Yes, they do? Glory be, that should make life easier.

::starts reading::

Third thought: ... SHUT UP EDITOR BRAIN!

So yeah, apparently I can’t read this system without wanting to edit all the things. To do both developmental and copy editing. I'm gonna claim that since I sat down to read it as part of a play test, my mind was already in editing/critique mode about the rules. Yes, I know editing is not the same thing as looking at rules with a critical eye. I know this. Really. But… yeah, sticking with my story here.

I'm not saying I think this is a bad system. I know the fundamentals of how the rules work are going to be solid, I've used this engine before (Monster Hearts uses the Powered by the Apocalypse engine too). The experience mechanics look interesting and certainly focus the game in a particular direction. It's just...

Cyberpunk systems are crunchy systems, you know? The tech is important to creating the feel of cyberpunk and maybe it's that I've just never tried a more narrative cyberpunk system before, but I'm having trouble seeing how a collection of tags to describe equipment is going to create that lived-in technology feel.

Rather my job as the GM isn't it?

Wish me luck folks. This is going to be the first scenario I've come up with from start to finish, run in a new system, created in less than a week. Deadlines impose creativity!

I'll just keep telling myself that...