Welcome to my first ever newsletter! I’m so excited to delve into this new world with you! Well, it’s not super new. I mean, throwing words at people’s faces is kind of what I do. But now it’s organized in a single place and with a couple of fun features to entertain.
The first thing I should note is that there are TWO versions of this baby— one for my website, which is officially up and running again (YAY!) at www.dlmcgowan.com, and one for my Patreon. The Patreon version has extra features, like Thought Bubbles, where patreon voted characters come together for random, script-formatted entertainment. The characters therein are from my current WIP, but the Thought Bubbles themselves are entirely independent of the novels and are an entity unto themselves. Thought Bubbles have a special place in my heart. On the one hand, it’s a fun way to collaborate with my Patreon community, and, on the other, it forces me to think about the way certain characters interact with one another. Needless to say, it makes for a great writing exercise that doesn’t skimp on the entertainment value.
So what can you expect from these Newsletters? All kinds of things! I’m nothing if not random. But here are some of the features you can expect to see in all of them:
A short little snippet about a topic of interest. These could be writing-related or interest related! (Think mini-blog post.)
Status updates regarding the progress of my main WIP.
A hype section— things you can expect to see in the near future and get excited about.
For Patreon subscribers, a special Thought Bubble, Newsletter edition. These are longer than your average Thought Bubble, making it easier to involve more characters.
A Q&A section. I’m still a very smol author fish in a vast ocean of authors, so the Q&A section may not have much (or anything) for a time, but one day there will be! (Or so I hope.)
So without further adieu, let us begin!
A question I’ve been asked several times now— how do you write a book? The usual follow up question is, “Where do you even begin?” I would never, ever claim to be an expert on the matter, but I’m always more than happy to share what I’ve learned.
The first and perhaps most important lesson of all: you don’t need to be a scholar to write a book. You don’t need degrees or certifications, or anything else. All you need is an idea, a willingness to learn, and the desire to put pen to paper. Literally anyone can do this! There are many different methods out there, guides, and walkthroughs that tell you how things should or could be done. The reality is that it differs from person to person. It’s about finding the method that works best for you.
When I first started my journey into writing, I researched voraciously. I’d written fanfiction, personal fiction, poems, and even the occasional song on and off for most of my life. In my high school and college days, English was the one class I could always count on getting an A in. So I knew I could write words, but the thought of putting them all together in one big, cohesive story was still overwhelming to think about. To continue with the fish metaphor, I was floundering — a real fish out of water. My skills were so out of tuna that I had no clue where to begin. (END FISH PUNS!) I found many different ways to approach the process, such as meticulous outlining, using note/story cards, post-it notes, writing by the seat of your pants (aka pantsing), and more I can’t remember right now. So many ways and not a single one struck me as “the way.” When that happened, I thought the better of things and said eff it. Clearly, I was out of my depth and wasn't meant to write a full, novel-length story.
But them characters, tho! I couldn’t get them out of my head! This is where it all changed— my own personal Step #2 in the journey to writing a novel.
Their story kept growing and growing, to the point where there was TOO much information in my head. It literally felt like my brain was going to burst! So, I had to write some of it down to free up some space. It worked for a time, but it began to slowly fill up again. I'd think about the characters an almost obsessive degree! Writing started to have more appeal, but it still felt like way too much work. So, instead, I took to playing the characters in Dungeons & Dragons. It worked as an outlet for the stories in my head, but it also allowed me to get inside theirs, learning what makes them tick. Did you know Vaean Lysiiryn, my totally-badass-bounty-hunting-sexy-beast of a main character, loves cookies more than most things in life? I didn’t either! Not until that awakened in D&D, that is. Before I knew it, I could adopt their mindsets and personalities at the snap of a finger, and that fueled the fires of the story in my head. It kept growing and growing and finally…
I gave up on giving up.
I couldn’t not write this story anymore. Even if no one ever read it, I burned to write it! The characters and their stories had come to mean so very much to me. Sure it may suck, but it needed to come out! Determination is a powerful tool. I took to researching again and, this time, I found my way. It wasn’t a predetermined system, but a combination of a few. And it all began with the Snowflake Method. (This one specifically.) First, I wrote a three-sentence summary, then expanded to a paragraph, then to three, and so on. Eventually, I did the same for my characters as well, and before I knew it, I had a solid, sequential summary of my story and the characters therein! I had pages upon pages of organized information to guide me on my next leg of the journey— outlining.
But we’ll get into that in Part 2 in our next Newsletter.
There’s always more to come in Dee Town, folks! Not only will I continue producing Newsletters like this, but I have other goodies on deck, with a touch extra for my lovely patrons!
Rough character bio! These bios are not book content, but provide loose background information on the characters therein. (I can’t share actual book content since I’m hoping to be published traditionally.) The next one up is Casden Remorin— Guild Master of Bounty Hunters, Vaean’s boss, and antagonist number 1 of the story!
“Name That Wyvern!” This poll is live through the end of the week, ending on Saturday, Jan 18th at 10:00 AM EST. Cast your votes now to determine the name of a particularly special wyvern in my books!
More character artwork! I recently added the lovely character banner at the bottom of my webpage, and you’ll notice there are still some spaces to fill. That’s because there are three more characters to come! I’ve been working with @acverg (Twitter) to create concept art for all my characters, and she’s been knocking it out of the park! (She accepts commissions regularly, too, and is an absolute angel to work with. I can’t recommend her enough!)
More Newsletters! Replete with WIP status updates, Part 2 of My Approach to Writing a Novel, and more!
Streaming! You see, as much as I wish writing was my full-time, it sadly isn’t. I work a minimum of 45 hours a week at my day job to pay the bills, and then write my heart out with just about every spare second of free time I get. This is fantastic for my creative soul, but I always, always, always end up unwittingly tiring out my little brain. Therefore, I resolve to take more breaks, albeit short ones. Video games are my favorite past time, so I’ll play them from time to time to unwind, and when I do, I’ll share the experience with you! You can find me at @roguew01f84 on Twitch. I’m not especially good, peaking at average, but I’m snarky, and I sass NPCs so, if nothing else, I’m entertaining. I started a new game of Skyrim SE on Sunday (Jan 12th) if you’re curious to see. It’ll be up for 14 days there, but you can also find it on my YouTube channel.
As some of you already know, when I started this WIP series of mine, I wrote it in a preexisting world setting. I hoped to have it published there, too, but as time went on, I started to feel restricted by that world. I was already so far along at that point that it was easier to finish out the first draft that way. I was mostly concerned with getting the story out of my head and into a sandbox anyway. Following its completion, I immediately began a full rewrite, putting the characters in their own world setting and customizing them accordingly. To my mind, the way they should have been in the first place.
That rewrite is where I am now. It’s an agonizingly slow process because not everything from the first draft works in the new setting. I've had to revisit aspects of certain plotlines, invent my own brand of sorcery and arcane science, deal with yet another character who wrote themselves into existence, and flesh out a world I had only just begun to know. But WOW! Here to say, there are few feelings as satisfying as reading your millions of pages of worldbuilding notes and thinking, “Damn, I wish I lived there!” I mean, danger aside, Reverie is a beautiful place filled with some of my favorite fantasy elements. Though with that said, my bias is showing, so, you know, that could be a factor.
The original draft was 115.2K words spread across 23 chapters. As with any first draft, it was riddled with godsawful grammar mistakes, tense issues (which are probably still a thing because I genuinely suck at tensing), and more head popping/abrupt point of view changes than I care to admit. But, as they say, the purpose of a first draft is just to get the story on paper. Or in a word document, as the modern case may be. So, mission accomplished!
I’ve learned much and more since I started that first draft, and I’ve brought those lessons with me into the second. I even learned a few more while writing said the second draft. As a result, I started changing even more things when I was already halfway through it. The biggest one was perspective changes. These used to occur on either a chapter break or at the start of a new chapter. This was bad. It made my chapters very long, and while they were still easy enough to follow, it felt disjointed. Changes in perspective, aka PoV, only occur at the start of a new chapter, now. As a result, my chapters have slimmed out into more palatable, bite-sized portions. Previously those bad boys were anywhere between 4 and 7K words, which is a little much. Now they’re anywhere from 750 to a maximum of 4k (and only a few of them reach that maximum).
With all that said, my second draft is now sitting on 32 chapters, and I’m not finished yet. That number doesn’t account for the Pov/chapter changes I still have to implement for the first half of the book either, so there will be chapters aplenty before I'm through!
So how many more chapters remain? Hells if I know. There’s eight left from the original draft, though. Eight!!! I can’t believe I’m down to single digits! The current word count for the rewrite is 114.5K. There’s still a third of the story left to go, and I’m already close to matching the original word count. That’ll give you an idea of just how much more detailed the story became for being placed in its proper setting.
Okay, okay, that’s enough blabbering from me! Let’s get some trackable stats, shall we? Looking forward to seeing how much these change by the next Newsletter. (This section won’t be as long-winded next time, I promise.)
Current Act: Final Current Word Count: 114.5K Current Chapter: 32 Current Page #: 441 Original Chapters Remaining: 8
I have a soft goal to finish by the end of February and a hard finish date of April 1st. These goals are more than achievable with the progress I’ve been making lately. I’ll still have one more edit after this one before it's ready for beta readers, but that one should be much smoother and quicker for not being a complete rewrite.
Well, being that this is our very first Newsletter, this section is a little empty. And it may very well be that way for a while to come, but that’s okay. I’d still like to keep this open because I very much enjoy interacting with all of you!
To submit a question via my website, please use the Comments section below or the form provided on my About page.
To submit a question via Patreon, feel free to post it in the Comments below or send me a Message.