Over on the blog for The Ion Age I published a little story about Caracan the Strider; a light mecha used in the Patrol Angis game system in 15mm scale. I write a lot of fiction and non-fiction but on this occasion I decided to set myself a challenge in that I would try and create 2000 words of fiction in less than two hours with only five minutes of editing afterwards and then straight to publish. I just managed it and the article went live half a day later. Responses have been kind and nice and sure I made a couple of mistakes but all in all it worked. Have a look and enjoy if you like science fiction with a military leaning.
Writing Two Thousand Words in Two Hours…How?
So. You might be thinking how do I write a story of 2000 words in 120 minutes. Well there is no magic formula really. From my point of view I have and do write a lot so my typing speed is faster than typical. It helps I use a wired full size keyboard as smaller boards and wireless can pose problems and slow you. I am a great believer in the motto of ‘just start’ as it works. When you try this just begin with one sentence which sums up what you are going to write about. Such as ‘This mecha, what is it, who is its pilot and where are they fighting’. Then drop a few lines, I use open office mainly in single page view, and type in salient points of the story you are now thinking of. So any action or dialogue or description you intend to hang the story on. It could be the opening or last line for example. By this time you are five minutes in and have the skeleton of a two thousand word tale.
Now. Do not stop. Type typing and ignore everything else if you can. Take your salient points and begin to build on them with paragraphs. Name your characters and identify places. Ignore the beep of the phone, the call from mates and such (if you are on fire then put it out of course!) and carry on. Frankly I am ignoring Messenger and Whatsapp right now! By the time you are an hour in you should have nearly a thousand words and a story that would work if left as it is. It would be somewhat vapid and missing elements but it exists. Now take a minute and read it back.
The second hour is the power hour. You are in the zone now and you are burning up the virtual paper. Now is the time for the main focus of the tale to take place, focus on the action scene or the central trunk which readers will remember. Get it done and then jump back and expand upon the beginning then hop to the end and write it out and then expand it. Two hours goes fast. You should now have your story…
Pompous eh? What am I like. A fast thinking, fast typing, veteran scribbler telling you it is this easy. Well it ain’t easy and I got there with seconds to spare. It is perfectly fine to try for 1000 words or for three hours when you begin and I recommend you try and do an exercise of 500 words several times if you are very new to this. If you manage to craft a tale then you deserve some applause as many people simply never do it.
I began with books like the one above and they are well worth reading. I will end on this notion. Begin with the End clearly in Mind. It makes all the difference.
This week my latest project was breathed to life and appeared on the Alternative Armies website. A new beginners entry into Flintloque the Skirmish 3rd edition. I had been asked many times across last year by wargamers ‘how do I get into this excellent setting!’. After a long bit of thinking and an idea to try out some new concepts I came up with 5024 Escape from the Dark Czar. A complete beginners set with booklet, miniatures, bases and dice. You can see it on the website from Friday 27th January.
The booklet itself is twenty pages and builds upon the Witchlands campaign setting begun by Mike Roberts and the core engine of 3rd edition worked up by Mike White. An introduction to the campaign followed by character profiles and then the core rules of play after which are three small scenarios for use with the miniatures and then two pre-filled rosters; one for each side. It is an excellent looking tightly packed booklet featuring the artwork of my good friend Edward Jackson on its cover and in its inner pages.
Sam Croes the lead designer at Alternative Armies came up with the ideas for the miniatures in the set. We decided to produce the ten miniatures in resin and importantly in bulk allowing us to keep the price down on this introduction for wargamers. However it is not likely I will commission more resin infantry for Flintloque as it is a white metal range, which I love, and this was an experiment after all. We will stick to using resin to keep the weight down and price of things like Trolka and Cavalry Mounts. That said they are fantastic figures indeed. Full of character touches. The Ogre is my favourite.
I also took this chance to collate the massive folder of free files which exist for Flintloque and Slaughterloo and in the process create a mighty stack now online for download for free. See the same page on the website for the download link. It is some 95mb in size and represents some four years work on my own and others part.
I hope that you enjoy this new beginners set. I had a lot of fun writing it and playtesting it last autumn.
On other topics. I do not update this blog all that often. I just do not have the time down to my work, my family and so on. There are only so many hours in the day. So I have a plan for this year…it will come in stages and start soon.
I began a test today with a wargame rule system I wrote back in 2005 and then re-issued in 2010 before now in September 2016 turning into a digital download. The system is DarkeStorme and it is one of my earliest stand alone titles. I am actually rather proud of it really since it has held up well. Set on the fictional world of Valon where the mighty rule system Flintloque takes place but in an earlier age of sword and sorcery it was my idea to create a ‘third age’ to replace the lack lustre earlier system ‘Dresda’ which was in a world before Flintloque. DarkeStorme focuses on warbands of a dozen or so miniatures of any fantasy race and has full rules for monsters, magic and more as well as progression and RPG elements. A lot packed into sixty pages….mainly due to this being written before I had a lot of parenting responsibilities which makes working life a tad more complex. I am not joking!
The test is to find out if the customer base of Alternative Armies wishes to purchase paid for PDF’s (digital books) as well as print books. DarkeStorme has sold over a thousand copies in its time thus far in print so it is an ideal place to try out this test. The purchase is made straight from the website using the existing shopping cart and the links are delivered on screen to download from there. Thus far we have sold a half dozen or so e-copies and it is a good start. You can visit the page HERE and read the official blog post HERE.
How do I feel about my work, often running to hundreds of hours per title, being distributed in this fashion? If you had asked me a few years ago I would have refused straight off since I have watched people being ‘pirated’ our of existence by file sharing networks in the gaming industry. That and the customers simply did not ask for PDF’s in anything but ‘bolt on’ small items and preferred printed books with their miniatures. Now though the world has turned and customers are asking for both particularly with The Ion Age title Patrol Angis. So I will wait and see what happens. My feeling is that we will be putting out more titles as digital downloads including the big books such as War in Catalucia for Flintloque. Heck, it may even result in me penning original works for digital download only. The future will tell.
Thanks for your time as always on my little page.
“This last decade has seen suffering on a scale not seen for centuries since the obliterating horror of the Aldan Crucible. In the twenty years since the murder of my father in rightful battle and following this my abduction as a child, Prydia has been aflame and never more so than in the this decade now closed. None know the true count of this conflict but it is in the billions of needless deaths. All these deaths needless and the result of the ambitions of the rebel barons and their leagues. Now, here, in the liberation of Bosworth IV we have reached the high water mark of the Leagues. They will rise no more. Edmund Bluefort, leader and lord of the League of Canlaster, is dead this very day in fair joust. With his death and the returning of this planet to freedom I send out this message across all the systems in the Precinct. Freedom is coming and the darkness will be lifted in the months and years to come. As long as it takes, you will all be liberated and returned to a worthy peace. Coming from the skies the red and white of the Prydian Army will drive out the rebel barons and their lackeys one planet, one settlement at a time. The flame that threatened to burn us all and reduce us once more to savages will be put out. Already it gutters and fails. That which has been ruined will be rebuilt and restored. Prydia is rising once more and now more than ever before we must stand united against threats that may come to us from beyond our own stars. This civil war will end!”
Princess Daphne Cyon addresses the Precinct from Zone 62 New Bosworth 4330 IC
My space opera setting just doubled in size!
You can read all about my latest book Callsign Taranis online on its page of the website. I am very proud of this expansion book and though it took longer than hoped or expected to chisel to a finished monolith it is now crossing the globe to all those who made the choice to order it up early. Thank you! I only wish to add some pictures here of what the book likes like internally. Its pages and their quality. We decided to get the book printed in Scotland and went for a high quality paper and bind meaning Callsign Taranis will stand up to the rigours of long term use by wargamers. It is a thing of beauty and that is important and I think we will do this again. It costs more and means we make less money but at the same time the customer gets a ruddy good product and we keep people in work here. This also applied to the larger format pre-print with new cover art of the original Patrol Angis book to which this new one is the expansion sequel.
“In Callsign Taranis you will find the expansion rules covering the use of Vehicles in play as well as Structures and other bolt on mechanics. There are also game statistics for the vehicles of the Prydian Civil War and additional skills, equipment and items for your troops. Following on from Patrol Angis is part two of the Prydian Civil War background. Also in this book is the Support Phase and the Between Games development of your forces. Rules for how to play larger games of Patrol Angis and how to generate random terrain. A bolt on section for Building your Forces with Vehicle and Mixed platoons. This and more all in a packed sixty four pages! 15mm Wargaming!”
The Ion Age is my own baby. My forth child as it were. It is by a long margin the smallest compared to Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk but it is growing and between myself and Sam Croes we are creating something special, something unique.
I have made the choice that although I will not be posting much here on my own site I will be putting up short articles with my own look at some of the books and products I am involved with closely. What I have written or been impressed by. If you want to see what I am up to most every day then look to the right and follow me on Googleplus and or Facebook. My own site is for musing and mutterings beyond these.
Do you like what you see? I do…and I have seen the finished art that this sketch was the beginning point for. There are great things a foot at The Ion Age. In a few weeks time we will be all about Callsign Taranis the book and the pre-order offers too. Before that we will put the new and improved production method IAF035 Adder Combat Cars (all six different models) back on the website shortly and we will tell you just what is in Callsign Taranis the expansion to Patrol Angis. But first this little article by way of introduction to what will come.
Both Patrol Angis and Callsign Taranis will be published as A4 larger format books moving away from A5. We have responded to customers and shortly the smaller A5 format Patrol Angis will be removed from our website meaning that if you have one of them it will be a collectors item for there will be no more smaller format books in this growing series. If you want the smaller format book get it now as it will be removed with the pre-orders begin or sooner if stock is exhausted. Simply put I placed so much value and word count in Patrol Angis (and Callsign Taranis) that it needed more space for everyone to be able to enjoy it properly!
I have shown the cover art of both books before and now I will tell you that those two great pieces of art are NO LONGER the cover art for the books. Sam Croes the lead designer and artist at The Ion Age has created two new much larger works of art for the covers. So in conclusion the existing Patrol Angis rulebook will be re-issued as a larger format with new covers but with exactly the same content and Callsign Taranis will be larger format too and will have new cover art and totally new content. Hope you liked the sketch.
p.s. This article is taken from the blog for The Ion Age and marks my small return to my own website here after a haitus which saw illness, joy and sadness as well as accomplishment too. More to come.
I normally post up across social media and industry websites about two dozen times a week reporting on all the excellent things that I get up to in this brilliant job. But this time its a little bit more special so I decided to feature this news here too. The big whoop at Alternative Armies just now is the offer on the awesome modular wargaming miniatures the Elf Dragoons. Their creator Sam Croes, a fine friend of mine, took the time to write up and photograph an article on building and painting one of them. Sam is a master figure painter and a damn good designer too so its well worth a read and a look too. See it HERE.
Thanks for taking a look.
Over on the Alternative Armies blog which is one of the onlines places which I organise and run there is a short but great posting about a brand new version of my Flintloque 3rd edition wargame rules. What’s so different about it? Well its been translated into Italian which is excellent as it means the community of wargamers in that lovely land can now play and read in their native tongue. Go HERE to read more and to download it if you want to have a look.
Flintloque is adored by thousands of wargamers all over the world who enjoy something unique and with humour but without all the high prices and often soul lacking materials that some other wargame systems have. I am seen as the father of the community and its a great place to be. There is a lot happening for the game during the rest of this year and this version of the lite rules is just an awesome bonus. Ciao!
Its our biggest code on the Ion Age so far and this little look at it gives you a taste before release day. Our birthday month is heating up and thanks to everyone who has sent in kind words and picked up the figures they missed from the Year One Collection. Read on and dream of a grand space opera setting. Go to the Ion Age blog and excuse me after a massive typing day for not saying more here inside my own head blog.
There is a lot going on at work just now. Major product releases one after another. This has meant less time for me to do much in the way of hobby or personal time projects but its well worth a blog post here. So what has the week for me been?
Its all been about buildings, vehicles and aliens in 15mm scale. 15mm scale means that a human being of average height is about a centimetre and a half tall as a miniature. Its a great scale as it means very large objects can be modelled affordable and well without a huge expenditure of energy. The aliens were the brand new Prang, alien raiders and soldiers over on 15mm.co.uk. These chaps made by my friend Eli Arndt over in the USA are great fun and suggestions for their use range from pirates to bodyguards. If you are interested in seeing them pop along to the blog for that website. The vehicles, well that was Sam Croes beautiful Skylark Patrol Flyer a resin kit in 15mm scale for The Ion Age. You can see it on top of the tower in the above image. Terrain came in the shape of the landing pad that tops off the tower in the above image. You can read more on the Ion Age blog.
Typically I do the writing, blogging, web work and photo editing for releases and I am not interrupted much by customers or fans while doing it but in the last seven days its been a total opposite. Many have been praising and asking about these new items. This is the focal point of this posting. It makes me smile. Being asked what something will look and what it will cost and if there is a story to it is very invigorating it makes you realise that people care. Frankly it makes me sure that investing my time and efforts into this universe was the right thing to do.
That said I do hope to read my copy of Escape from New York over the weekend..if I have time.
Its been a long search and at times a painful one but at last I own a paperback copy of the Escape from New York novel by Mike McQuay. A close run thing (much like the Escape story itself!) with many bidders and a final price that might make you sweat but which is still less than buying a copy through a book dealer it has just arrived in the mail. I will do a review of the book once I read it but you might ask for now..why are you interested in a novel about a film that is thirty years old?
The answer is Snake Plissken (played by Kurt Russell) the character has had a big impact on me for as long as I can remember. Sure the film is a little ropey and in places it drags but it and its characters have real presence that many newer movies do not. Snake is an anti-hero living in a nightmare police state future America with a military past hinted at and a fame that he does not want. The book is meant to expand on Snake’s background and give weight to tag lines in the film. I sure hope it does. The novel is significant because it includes scenes that were cut out of the film, such as the Federal Reserve Depository robbery that results in Snake’s incarceration. The novel provides motivation and backstory to Snake and Hauk — both disillusioned war veterans — deepening their relationship that was only hinted at it in the film. The novel explains how Snake lost his eye during the Battle for Leningrad in World War III, how Hauk became warden of New York, and Hauk’s quest to find his crazy son who lives somewhere in the prison. The novel fleshes out the world that these characters exist in, at times presenting a future even bleaker than the one depicted in the film. The book explains that the West Coast is a no-man’s land, and the country’s population is gradually being driven crazy by nerve gas as a result of World War III. Awesome!
I actually do have a plan beyond the obtaining and reading of the book and that plan is to try and get 15mm.co.uk to back my idea of more HOF codes that are suitable for the EFNY setting. We already have the SFA which will stand in for the thuggish guards and we have HOF55 (pictured above) which will, with more packs coming this season, stand in for gangers in the prison city. But we don’t have what I yearn for….a Snake for the nest. A miniature like that could be put into many projects and wargaming settings. Perhaps a Maggie and a Cabbie along with a Duke and a Hauk too. Sometimes I get my way but with 15mm.co.uk’s customer base wanting it too…well perhaps this post will assist in that. Email me on email@example.com if you are as keen as I am. Eye Patches are cool!