DONE Tournament of Titans (Book 1)

Discussion in 'Works in Progress' started by Yuli Ban, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Vash Daniels was born without arms or legs, and his family is a dysfunctional mess of outcastes in a post-war corporate-authoritarian society.
    However, he still loves life and living, and he wins a high-end cortical modem console machine in a contest. With it, he's able to enter into the MetaVerse and try out a game alongside his otaku father.
    The first thing that happens is that he accidentally humiliates a sadistic necromancer who trolls starting players and harasses others, resulting in the necro hounding him. But he also befriends an extremely high level player named Gomez, who offers to help train him when tragedy strikes in Vash's personal life and his father dies.
    The corporation that runs the region holds Vash's entire life over his head, and the only way to save himself, his sister, and his mother is to enter a tournament and win first place in a team of three.
    But in order to enter, he must first reach level 80 in one month— which will require him to sacrifice all his time and energy during a time when his mother is weakest.
    Even if he achieves this, however, he will face off against players who have spent years practicing to pass the Noob's tier of the tournament, who have mastered the ways of the game to the best they can.
    All he can say to it all is "Bring it on."


    Current Word Count: 43,828

    Expected Word Count: 100,000 to 110,000
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  2. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Word count: 53,986

    I'll likely get another 10,000 words done today.
    The hope is that it'll go live in June.
     
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  3. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Word count: 75,418

    I'm officially at the 3rd plot point, so everything from here will be one long run to the finish line. And the story wound up being a lot more... inspirational than I expected. Maybe this stemmed from my viewings of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, but the ending's set up to be over the top and cheesy with all the "break through your limits" wankery.
     
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  4. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Scrapping 3,000 words, so the word count is now: 72,279. With help from GPT-2's text generator, I decided to rewrite a scene I previously wrote with some enhancements.
     
  5. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Bowing to our new AI overlords, aye? =)
     
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  6. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Indeed. It can actually be real helpful.

    Sound of RSB-80 plasma gun shoving spine

    I said it's very helpful. You should use it too. AI is going to revolutionize fiction writing.

    Anyway, current word count is 91,490. It's looking like it might wrap up by about 105,000 words. Then comes the arduous task of rewrites and editing and filling in so many blanks. I'll buy a cover before I start on that, though.
     
  7. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Word count is officially 100,399
    And though the story isn't finished, it's getting damn close. As in "I'm within 1,000 words of the climax" close.
     
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  8. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Thanks to procrastination, I'm now finished.

    Final word count: 103,925
    It's much less broken than Astral Falls was, so it won't need a total rewrite. It's probably going to increase to above 110,000 words by the time of publication.
    In Word, it's 239 pages long, but that's without any real formatting. No indentations or anything like that. What's more, I'm well aware that Amazon automatically "double spaces" these things. Not literally— it'll look single spaced— but a page on Kindle is around 250 to 300 words. A page in Word— single-spaced, 12 point font Times New Roman with minimal dialogue breaks, is about 800 words. This effectively makes ToT over 400 pages on Amazon, which is a substantial increase in KDP.

    Next up:
    • Get a cover. I had hoped @Viergacht would have come back, but he seems to be AWOL.
    • Edit the story. Though it's not a flustercuck like Astral Falls where I had accidentally summoned loads of demons via the loads of misspellings creating an arcane black language, there are still plenty of errors and mistakes. I also didn't format any chapters at all, so I'm going to have to find stopping points.
    • Rewrite the story. It's true what they say— sometimes, a story's theme will only really appear while writing it. That's what happened here! I introduced something within the last 25% of the story that wound up fitting beautifully with the whole story itself and really ought to have been foreshadowed much sooner.
    • Rewrite the prologue. Actually, that should be my very first action, even before getting a cover. There's actually two prologues, and the second one is much better, but the first one is still necessary despite being so dry, so I need to find a way to combine them into one.
    • Get some beta readers and send out ARCs. I only want to do that when the rewrite's done.
    • Start on Walpurgis. I've been doing some refining to that particular story's plot.

    There's yet another story I'm working on right now. A romance title on an entirely different penname. I figured I'd try to knock that out again. That one only needs to be about 40,000 to 50,000 words long, so it won't require quite as much of a time investment.

    I probably won't publish any stories in June, as I had hoped. Or if I do, it'll be in late June.

    Altogether, I'll be able to publish five books at once. Tournament of Titans, Walpurgis, and the romance book are the new ones. Then I'm going to republish Ghosts of Smoke but will probably make it either 99¢ or free, and I'm going to republish El Sexorcisto! and El Sexorcisto Z! but both books will be combined into one (and lengthened to about 100,000 words) and named El Sexorcisto Z! Redux Edition.

    If all goes well, July will be a bank buster of a month. Even if all goes poorly, I'll have 355,000 words across four books as a backlog (I recall someone saying they only pay authors any attention if they have 150,000 words in a backlog, so naturally I want to try to meet that demand). There will definitely be a Tournament of Titans 2 since I planned it as having future installments. If it does too poorly, I might shelve the sequel for a while, but I'll still eventually do it because the arc wouldn't feel complete otherwise.


    Now for some Soviet-style self-criticism!!

    I probably would have been further along in my time as a litRPG author if not for the false start last year. There are plenty of reasons why October 2018 was a false start. Ghosts of Smoke wasn't meant to be a very commercial story to begin with (I've mentioned before that it was borne from a literary short story I wrote in 2015, haven't I?) but it was also supposed to be my debut; its cover was pretty bland; it didn't hit any real beats in litRPG since there was no "stat progression" element and never was supposed to be. When I republish it, I'm going to relabel it as Gamelit for that very reason. I'm probably going to get a new cover done as well. But overall, it's not something I'm losing sleep over. And El Sexorcisto! was meant to be a Valens Legacy ripoff but not nearly as well done since I wrote it on a whim. Over on RoyalRoad, it's gotten much better reviews now that El Sexorcisto Z! is attached to it since that one at least tries to make sense of what's going on in the first book; El Sexorcisto! by itself was a chaotic mess that read like a YouTube Poop, and it just ended with no real closure. El Sexorcisto Z! at least had some level of closure and explanations since I had something to work with, but without the first book, it felt truncated. The big damn problem with El Sexorcisto! was that I published it well before it was actually done. Both books were 40,000 words long each, but they felt like they were two parts of a 3-part novel (which is one reason why I'm expanding the story to give it a third act; even both books together feel incomplete). So it was rushed, had narrative problems, and just all around wasn't that good. I've been told that it's a fine story. Crazy, but fine. Perhaps even good. But getting greedy and splitting it up into multiple novellas rather than one big novel was what killed its potential.

    There was an even falser start in 2017 because I shot through Astral Falls without trying to keep the English language sacred, so the fact I didn't have anything close to being usable killed my momentum then and indefinitely pushed back Nightmare Online. If you're ever wondering what happened to that one, now you know. As I mentioned in another thread, I've cleaned up Astral Falls a lot more, though there's still quite a bit of work to be done on it. I might publish it later this year, even though I already decided to recycle a lot of that arc into a new story that better fits that proto-litRPG concept that I've had since 2009.
     
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  9. Gryphon

    Gryphon Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    V is down with the flu or something similar. He's still recovering.
     
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  10. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Ah, that's unfortunate. Hope he gets better.
    I'll probably just wait for him since it's still going to be at least a week or two before ToT is ready in any way.
     
  11. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    [​IMG]
    Still don't have a cover, but I have been editing it to clear up plot holes and inconsistencies. I wrote the bulk of the story in a single week in late April/early May, and then added chunks sporadically for the next month and a half. I'm surprised it was as coherent as it was. On top of that, I've been adding the chapter breaks. Thankfully, they can be easily found. Out of 37 chapters + a prologue, there was only 1 chapter whose break I had to just call and force; all the others had a surprisingly obvious ending. The vast majority of chapters are between 2,500 and 4,000 words long. This one, however, would have been around 6,500 words long if I didn't create a split in there and I didn't feel comfortable leaving in such a long chapter.

    The total word count has remained pretty stable, but once I start adding a few necessary edits, it'll likely go to 106,000 words.

    I've been checking whether or not it hit the beats, and I'm pleasantly surprised that it's literally down to the right pages. Right now, the Word doc is 362 pages. When I check the 12% mark, there's the inciting incident on page 43. When I check the first plot point, it should be at 25% mark. Lo and behold, there it is on page 90 exactly. The start of the climactic battle should be 87% of the way through, which would put it on page 314-315. And there it is! The final low period right before the climax should be at 95% of the story, and... Yep! Not gonna lie, I didn't expect this. I did much, much better than I thought with it.

    So functionally, the story has hit a solid rhythm.
    I'm just finishing up creating some dialog boxes and stat pages. Outside of a handful, I've left the stat "pages" truncated. You get an ID for most of them with only a scant bit of information. I could have created whole stat sheets, but I was thinking about how it'd work in an actual RPG. I've been playing with borders and gradients to see what looks best.

    Another thing I'm doing is adding foreshadowing and information before the midpoint. A basic rule of thumb is that you don't introduce any new plot elements, characters, etc. after the 50% mark. You certainly could, but readers have a tendency to get frustrated and think that you're adding too much stuff otherwise. So a major plot element that I actually only created in the last 20,000 words now got peppered throughout the rest of the story so it doesn't feel like an absolute ass-pull. Turns out that foreshadowing things makes their reveal feel more worthwhile and pleasant; having them just appear out of nowhere makes them feel cheap and contrived.

    On the surface, it sounds like I'm forcing the story to be more predictable. Yet the more I hone and focus it to match the beats and plot rhythm, the better the story winds up being. Who knew?


    So basically, I've been fixing up the story mechanics in the past few days.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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  12. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I've fixed the story mechanics, fixed the prologue and ending, and now all that's left are the little details here and there. For example: I never actually named a recurring tavern or described what it looked like, so this is the time to do that.

    All I need now is a cover.

    Also, if anyone's interested in beta reading, just tell me and I'll send you the document.
     
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  13. Herko Kerghans

    Herko Kerghans Biased Survivor LitRPG Author Citizen

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    In case it fits your deadlines, I could give it a read in about three weeks. No time (nor mental bandwidth) before that, I'm afraid. =)
     
  14. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Wait, what?!

    I didn't even need to wait for Viergacht all this time. I could've just gone to SelfPubBookCovers. It's even right there in his sig....
     
  15. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Here's an idea:
    [​IMG]


    I am also going to create a paperback version, the first time I'm doing that. I tried creating a paperback for Ghosts of Smoke, but I didn't know how to create the back and spine, didn't know much about page formatting, and altogether didn't feel like being arsed.


    I've been looking into paperback prices as well and have seen people charging from $10 to $20 for books. Judging by the Kindle preview, this is at 8,847 locations. But I don't know the exact number of pages it'll have. It could be anywhere from 350 to over 600 depending on how Amazon's algorithm is feeling. So I guess I'll just have to feel it out...
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  16. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Right, so the one after this will be named "Tournament Wars". It will probably come around by Christmastime, if procrastination doesn't push it back. But to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if I actually finished it ahead of time.

    I have much, much more faith in this story than Ghosts of Smoke (whose name I'm thinking of changing before I republish it). I can definitely see it making it to the low 4-digit ranks on Amazon. Same deal with El Sexorcisto Z! In fact, now that that one's been expanded to about 100,000 words and has a more complete story, I'm confident ESZ! could even break into the 3-digit range. I wouldn't be surprised, at least. The only issue is getting reviews.

    Funny, I actually have faith in Tournament of Titans and even El Sexorcisto Z! Redux Edition when I was much more skeptical about the small batch of stories last year, and it's all because I can actually feel the story structures in them. Ghosts of Smoke hits precisely one beat: the midpoint, and even that one's off by several pages. As a result, it always felt so much less commercial. I couldn't tell you why at the time; just that it was.

    I know someone else on the forum lambasted story beats, but I honestly don't see myself ever returning to being a pantser (for the major plot beats, at least). Especially if my guess is right and these two wind up selling gangbusters. Now that I can place story beats and make the story feel so much more natural, coming up with plots has been a breeze. It always was a chore before because I wanted there to be a plot, I wanted there to be conflict, low points, high points, and whatnot, but I had absolutely zero idea on how to pace it. Even ToT is a little wonkily paced since Vash has to go from level 1 to 80 in half the story (but I got around that via a rather wicked and brutal reason that actually works in the story's favor) while the second half has to contain the tournament itself.
    I thought of having the whole of the first book just be grinding, but I decided that I actually did want to show the tournament. But since I needed a way for the MC to realistically get from 0 to victory with the plot I had in mind, going with an MMORPG-slash-eSports tournament also worked out.

    There were a few other things I felt iffy about, but when I thought about them any further, they actually fit better than I hoped. Nevertheless, I think Tournament Wars will be a much more solid title.
     




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