Fixing a Train Wreck (Infernal Engineers Series 1-3)

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Joshua Bender, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. Joshua Bender

    Joshua Bender Level 5 (Veteran) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Not entirely sure where to get started here. I have three books going through what would probably be described as an alpha read rather than beta. I started writing the first book in January of this year, and the series quickly morphed into a beast that has pretty much taken over every waking moment of my spare time between my university classes. I've had a few reviewers go through my books, but not many actual LitRPG readers.

    The problem when I first started writing my series started to become apparent when I was most of the way through book 3, as I was pretty much winging it without much of a goal in mind other than to write as much as I could, and to get as much world building done as possible. Over the course of my books, the vision I had for the world my series takes place in evolved.

    I started off the fantasy world side of my series with several ideas of how to write it, then settled on a non traditional type of world. The difficulty is that, Endaria isn't actually a game. Its a world that players think is a game. On their side, the mechanics are not typical either. There is no leveling up, though there is an interface that often ends of being disabled in favor of immersion. Real life skills have a massive impact on how players fight, craft, etc in Endaria.

    Anyone who reads the first book, can watch my disenchantment with the idea of describing a traditional gaming experience as, I finally decided that Endaria was more than just a game. Personally, it has always annoyed me when reading LitRPG that so much is devoted to just stopping and describing the character over and over again. I'm more of an action writer, then a descriptive storyteller.

    So where to get started? I want to rewrite but it's hard to find people who are willing to read through all three books, then come back and comment on book one. I think I've covered most of the plot holes but I still am having problems trying to fit everything together. I do need a few alpha readers, and ones that really understand the genre. My books are on google drive, and that's what I've been using for review work so far and it has worked out quite well.

    Anyone willing to help out? Or any advice?
     
  2. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    You might be able to entice potential readers by recapping the books in detail - it'd be easier to see problems with the overall plot.
     
  3. Alexis Keane

    Alexis Keane Level 14 (Defender) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    So, it's not a game, but people think it's a game, but there's no real game mechanics and the interface plays no role in the story. But it's set in a fantasy world and skills are an innate thing based on aptitude rather then progression. This seems to be skirting the fantasy novel danger zone where the only game aspect is that people think it's a game and nothing else. Of course, that could easily be rectified by allowing skill progression and acquisition based on performance, which I suspect is what you've done (but it's better to make absolutely certain). Just be careful, I've read a lot of novels that fail the LitRPG criteria even though they're set in a game/game-world or have interfaces/stat-sheets.
     
  4. LWFlouisa

    LWFlouisa Level 9 (Burgler) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I seem to be experiencing some similar issues. Although to me to say something isn't a game because there is no leveling up is ... problematic at best. Consider Fighting Games, Visual Novels, and Point And Click Games. Unless they explicitely have "RPG" elements, they don't generally have leveling up. Visual Novels, in particular, have very minimal gameplay elements. And some, like Kinetic Novels, are arguably not even games, but nominally are considered visual novels.

    Then there are puzzle games.

    Though in my case it's a bit more confusing, as it is and isn't a game at the same time. It depends on who you talk to. Even those who created the artificial universe can't seem to agree on whether it's a game.

    This is do to Permadeath+ mode.

    And while there are a crap load of Resident Evil novels, they're not LitRPG, but they are GameLit, as in Vampire The Mascquerade.
     
  5. LWFlouisa

    LWFlouisa Level 9 (Burgler) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Plus when you get into things like "Fantasy World Simulators" it starts getting even blurrier.
     
  6. Joshua Bender

    Joshua Bender Level 5 (Veteran) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Well that's the thing, my own personal preference in terms of gaming is in the survival crafting games. While most of them typically do have some form of leveling, etc, there is a big weight on the players own inventiveness and asymmetrical warfare. This often takes the form of good base design, or outplaying people rather than simply outgunning them in either stats or levels, etc.

    The biggest issues in my story are during my shift away from traditional gaming elements in the first book. The way skills work from the player perspective in Endaria, is that they demonstrate a skill, and the interface ranks them. There are ways to learn new skills with the interface by unlocking recipes, etc and letting the interface sort of do things for you. An example would be to let your character use natural materials to braid a crude rope. The main character starts disabling much of this bedrock mid-late book one, and completely disables his entire interface in book two.

    Either way, real life skills play a massive role in survival in Endaria, crafting, martial and leadership is something that becomes quite valuable and isn't easy for the interface to teach or unlock. The thing is just because the interface is disabled dosen't mean the players don't have any way to understand or learn things. With the interface disabled, instead of say seeing a pile of gold coins and the interface telling them their value, with a label on them they just know their value instinctively. The help is still there, but it's done on such an unconscious level that it dosen't break the immersion. The locals also acts differently if a player would say introduce themselves rather than just call them by a name assigned to them by the system, even if it would be akward actually using it in practice. It's like being called Sir or Mam in a casual situation, or being too casual in a formal setting.

    There is also the great seal, the binding power that shapes all magic in Endaria, that removes all language barriers, and allows players to talk to each other even if they don't speak the same language as well as understand most non-magical writing in Endaria. Everyone in Endaria pretty much speaks the same language, but accents can be sometimes difficult or impossible to translate. Especially with the beastkin, who use a lot of non-verbal language and grunts, chitters, growls, etc.

    Magic itself, is also not unified under one system. Much like we have thousands of languages in real life, there are countless ways to use what passes for magic in Endaria, and that goes for enchantments on gear, wardings, etc.


    The biggest problem I have right now, is trying to get everything to work. I'd like to say all my books won't have main characters that will ignore the interface, but I'd like to have a few that still utilize it heavily. After I finish my current project it's a tossup what part of my series I tackle next. I'd like to spend time rewriting my first book and trying to fix plot holes, etc. To do that I need to figure out what I want to do with the whole interface thing, and find a system that would make sense in my context and works.
     
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  7. timothycward

    timothycward Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Fantasy Author Citizen

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    Couple thoughts Joshua. Have you tried writing with the Scrivener app? I can relate to the overwhelming feeling of editing, and if you're using Word, the thought of scrolling from one page to the next looking for format and key progressions, it can become paralyzing.

    Scrivener allows you to write chapters that fit into an index on the left side. You can also write notes in a notecard top right that is used as a summary for each chapter when viewing the corkboard feature. I am not a Scrivener expert, but it has been a very easy program to work through.

    I'll screenshare my current WIP. Please don't read too carefully over the prose as this is first draft, but as an example of how it works for me:

    upload_2019-2-3_7-52-35.png

    The highlighted "Ch 35 - Ehli's Offer" is my index of chapters. I enjoy being able to click back and forth between them to compare and refresh my mind on what happened last time these characters were on screen. Scrivener keeps your place within the chapter, so instead of scrolling over and over you just click the index or even the < or > beside the chapter title in the main view window. If the last window I viewed was my team stats page (where I update their stats after each battle), then I can easily toggle between the chapter I'm writing and the world building notes I'm referencing.

    On the top right you make your summary notes for each chapter, which can highlight major evolution in the story and magic system. While this may be a lot of work, that's what editing is :). It's awesome you have three books of content. Now build from there. I'd suggest taking the time to find a system of organization that works for you. Maybe this could be something that helps. Clicking that blue "i" circle in the top right corner removes this right side view if you ever want it to go away.

    To move into Scrivener from Word, you may need to copy and paste into chapters to keep it organized, but that simple, step by step approach may help this large undertaking to feel more attainable as you do one step at a time.

    As far as approach beyond that, I understand writing by the seat of your pants. Throughout this book my world building has evolved. I enjoy the freedom of letting it, but that also means the beginning will need to be updated to match seamlessly with the ending. I would say figure out what is going to stay according to where you are in the end, develop solid notes about how it works, and then reference those as you go back through the beginning book on up to book three.

    One thing I've really enjoyed Paul posting on Facebook has been some of the inner workings of how he builds his worlds. I don't know if there's a thread for stuff like that specifically, but hopefully my sharing has been helpful. God bless you in this task!
     
  8. Joshua Bender

    Joshua Bender Level 5 (Veteran) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I've picked up the free trial, I'll play around with it a bit, as I'm focusing on the rewrite. I'll tell ya what I think of it once I have a chance to try and use it to it's full capacity.
     
  9. nightwriter

    nightwriter Level 7 (Cutpurse) Citizen

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    Ehm, one stupid question, how did you setup your Scrivener view to have the body text and notes showing side by side? I only started using Scrivener now on my new PC and I can only see one or the other...

    The MS Word can be pretty organized as well (using headings and of outline view) but I gave up on it when I realized that I had to pay more for Office than for Scrivener, have to watch out very closely to the content that should not be converted and the actual ebook is very bloated when it comes from Word and Kindle Create plugin.
     
  10. TravisBach

    TravisBach Level 13 (Assassin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I suppose the first and most important question is - have you set the fundamental rules of magic and the game down? Even if no one knows what the rules are, do you know them? Or are you asking for help in codifying your books' metaphysics?
     
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  11. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    How's it going?
     
  12. Joshua Bender

    Joshua Bender Level 5 (Veteran) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    slowly'

    Been trying to organize evrything the last few days. I havn't had much time lately between othre projects. The biggest issue right now is trying to get the rewrite of my first book done.
     
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  13. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Keep at it. Elephants are eaten one bite at a time, my friend. ;)
     
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  14. Allen White

    Allen White Level 7 (Cutpurse) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I second the use of Scrivener -- it will absolutely help you organize this mess. I also can't recommend it enough!

    I don't usually get into situations like you describe, as I rigorously outline. However, although I outlined my published novel, when I was about 60% through the first draft I decided to change the ending. In fact I stalled for quite a while at that point, and didn't finish it for several years, in part because I didn't like where the story was going.

    I fixed it by re-outlining the entire book. This didn't mean that I rewrote the whole book, although I certainly changed and added certain details. But by re-outlining the entire work, I was able to get a more detailed overview than my original outline provided (as I had greatly fleshed out the story while writing it), and I was also able to see how I could create a new and better ending than I originally had in mind.

    Try it! I think that it will really help you a lot. Also get Scrivener, seriously. I've never found a better tool for organizing huge documents the size of books.
     
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