Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Productivity Update (with some "Starcraft 2" Spoilers)

Submitted the first draft of Chapter Seven of Escape from the Wastelands to my Kennesaw writing group.  I've still got some tinkering to do with Chapter Six, though.  Much of Chapter Eight, including a sequence where Andrew must hide from a dirigible armed with a gatling gun, is already written.  I've also gotten chunks of the next few chapters, in which Andrew joins the insurgency of Alonzo Merrill and fights against the Flesh-Eaters, written as well.  After that, things get a bit spottier.

This morning, I came up with some additional material for "The Deferred Revenge of Catalina Merrill," a short story I'll write if and when I publish Escape from the Wastelands, much like how Stephen King wrote the short story "The Little Sisters of Eleuria" to tie in with his Dark Tower novels.  This story is rather different than my typical fare, since there is little action and it is centered around a female protagonist--Catalina Merrill, sister of Alonzo Merrill and concubine of Grendel, the Lord of the Northlands.  It's pretty heavily character-based rather than plot-based and will reveal aspects of both Grendel and especially Catalina that aren't covered in Escape.

The additional material also ties in with Alonzo Merrill's characterization in the primary Wastelands novels, as well as in two possible spinoff novels.  These are the first-person tales Grendel: The Life and Times of the First Lord of the Northlands and Rebel: The Life and Times of Alonzo Merrill.  Both would be in the style of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

(Grendel will begin 40 years before Escape, when Grendel is a teenager, and chronicle his rise to power from his POV.  It will last until his death at Andrew's hands in the planned fourth novel.  Rebel will begin about a decade before Escape and follows Alonzo Merrill through the conquest of his homeland by Grendel and the captivity of Catalina, his insurgency against the Flesh-Eating Legion, and his ultimate triumph as an ally of Andrew.)

Multiple planned books and at least one short story, all dependent on whether Escape is ultimately successful.  This will certainly given me incentive to complete Escape and bust my behind selling it.  :)

Also tinkered a bit with my steampunk idea file, including some more data on how the Confederacy successfully seceded from the Union and how biplanes would be used in aerial piracy.

I'm also pondering a story pitch to Blizzard for a short story or even a novel set in the aftermath of Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty.  I don't want to give too much away, but it has to do with the fate of Infested Terrans who were within the blast range of the alien device that wiped out the ordinary Zerg and de-infested Kerrigan.  Some of the Starcraft novels describe how Kerrigan created Infested Terrans much like herself, creatures that retained their human memories and personality (to a point) rather than the mindless human bombs that most ITs become.  If they were in range of the device (which seems to have wiped out most if not all of the Zerg on Char), then they should be human again, just like Kerrigan.

When I was in middle school (and possibly early high school), I wrote some Starcraft fan-fiction, which despite the praise I got from my readers, was terribly marred by the fact that I played all three races' campaigns at the same time rather than in the order they were intended to be played and thus had a very skewed timeline. 

(For starters, I wasn't aware that Kerrigan had been infested due to Mengsk's treachery and that he and Raynor were no longer allies.  I didn't have any context for the "Emperor Mengsk" stuff, so I explained that away as being a fit of temporary insanity in a basically good man rather than malevolent power-grabbing on his part.  So essentially we have a democratic post-Confederate state and Raynor and Mengsk set off for Char to debug Kerrigan.  Ironically that ended up happening in SC2, only it's a different Mengsk, the Dominion is not a democracy, and Arcturus and Raynor are not friends.)

Once I played both the man game in its entirety, I started writing more canon-compliant stuff, including my own version of what I expected Brood War to be like.  It turns out I'd gotten the Raynor/Kerrigan partnership right, but I thought it would be against Mengsk, not the United Earth Directorate.  I did not anticipate Protoss involvement, nor did I anticipate Kerrigan being as evil as she was and ultimately betraying it.  The web-site ended up running into problems and the stuff I sent in was no longer posted, so I ended up abandoning the Starcraft fandom in favor of the Dark Angel one.

Now the goal is to get back in the saddle, only this time, to try to write licensed fiction for the company.  I've already done it for BattleTech, so I've got a good leg to stand on rather than old bad fan fiction (the Starcraft stuff) or recent good fan fiction (my two Harry Potter pieces).

(Catalyst Game Labs honcho Loren Coleman told me at the 2009 DragonCon that many companies look askew at fan-fiction writers because many think the characters deserve to be "free" and do not respect the fact that their creators are ultimately in charge of them.  He said he'd vouch that I wasn't insane and since Catalyst ultimately purchased my BattleTech story "Skirmish at the Vale's Edge," I imagine he was effective.  Blizzard might not be so understanding.)

I've found what I think is the main phone number of Blizzard (i.e. not the technical support hotlines), but there might be Blizzard personnel at DragonCon this year.  I think I'll work on my pitch and bring it to the convention.  While I'm at it, I should probably print some copies of "Skirmish at the Vale's Edge" and my one published original piece, "I am the Wendigo."  I think that would be much easier than calling people who might not want to hear from me.

Wish me luck.  :)


  1. Your post bit too long but enjoy reading it, the title was catchy coz I been lurking for SC2 reviews and strategy until I came up with your site. The content was nice and I had fun reading it.

  2. Thanks. If you like it, keep following my blog. You'll have all the updates on my personal writing--maybe including this Blizzard deal if I can pull it off--and discussion of other subjects.

    I don't think I'll be able to help you out re: strategy, as my computer cannot handle SC2 and so I'm not going to get it anytime soon.

    (It would be horrible if I bought a new computer to play "Wings of Liberty" and "Heart of the Swarm" is so advanced I've got to upgrade AGAIN.)

    Did you read my comments on what I think should be in the Zerg campaign? They're in the post before this.

  3. Just found your blog. I'm also an aspiring writer, working on an idea for a novel as well as a Starcraft 2 fan fiction. Great site.

    I also commented on your Zerg campaign post before this one.

  4. Good to know I've got a kindred spirit. If you want to promote your writings (original or fan-fic), I'd recommend blogging about them. You'll build up a fan-base and a popular blog means you're more likely to secure a publishing deal.

    Also, I'd like to see your SC2 fan-fiction when it's done. The only SC2 stuff I've read was this rather unrealistic one featuring Raynor and Kerrigan marrying soon after the events of WoL, complete with Kerrigan having an honor guard of Ghosts.

    (Them moving too quickly in the aftermath of WoL would be an extraordinarily bad idea, given they weren't even really involved prior to New Gettysburg. And Kerrigan is going to be real unpopular for a LOONG time, given what she did-freely, mind you--as the "Queen of Blades.")

    What's your novel about?

  5. Matt,

    My SC2 fan fic does take place just after WoL. It's a story of love, personal devotion, and healing. I think of it as interlude between WoL and whatever comes next, things that need to happen to get Kerrigan and Raynor back into the fight.

    My novel is only a vague idea right now, but it's about perseverance in the face of hopeless opposition, with a romance plot as well. It will probably take the form of a modern "fantasy". Basic plot will be one of a guy who gets mixed up with some people whose job is dealing with mythical monsters, keeping them at bay to safeguard humanity. However, their methods are generally to pay tribute and my main character feels the price is too high and wants to fight. Fireworks to continue from there.

  6. Your fanfic has some similarities to some issues I'm going to touch on in my pitch to Blizzard--although the story will follow the infested Terrans, the currently-dreadlocked-but-once-redheaded elephant in the room really cannot be ignored by anyone aboard the Hyperion.

    Re: your original idea, "modern fantasy" is really hot right now, so I'd go for it. If the idea is vague now, well that means you need to brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.

  7. Matt,

    What email address would I email my fan fic too if you wanted to see it? I didn't notice a link on your blog anywhere.

  8. You could always post the link to it in the comments section on this blog entry. That way, you'd get more readers besides me. :)

    (If you want a lot of readers, you should post it on fanfiction.net. That's where my Harry Potter, Transformers, and Battlestar Galactica fan-fic is posted.)

  9. Matt,

    I might do that, but I'm not sure. I will admit that I am somewhat leery of posting it openly. I don't want anyone taking it and calling it theirs.

    I completely understand if you don't want to hand out your email address. There are other ways I can get it to you securely, I'm certain. Just let me know what you think.

  10. Well, technically all of this stuff belongs to Blizzard. :)

    If you post it on fanfiction.net, it will be under your unique username and if other people copy it and try to pass it off as their own, you can have the ff.net administrators take it down.

    I'd recommend posting it chapter-by-chapter up there. You'll get reviews and constructive criticism, which can inspire further ideas.

    (In my HP story "The Wrath of the Half-Blood Prince," a character's fall into insanity was the result of a comment by a reader about the unseemly behavior of some characters at his girlfriend's funeral.)

  11. It's a short story fan fic...probablty doesn't warrant being released in pieces.

    I will post up a link here when I get it posted.

  12. Cool. Make it as long or as short as it needs to be. You could write a book about Kerrigan's mental state in the aftermath of "Wings of Liberty" (heck, that's what I'd like to do).

  13. I was just looking at fanfiction.net's content guidelines. I think my story violates them. At the end there is a bit of, um, sexy time that I think is going to break some rules.

    You wouldn't know of any alternative sites that would allow this, would you?

  14. There is some fairly graphic sexual material (i.e. "wet slapping of flesh" levels of detail) on fanfiction.net. Just rate it "Teen" (or "Mature" if it's particularly graphic) and I don't think you'd get into trouble with them.

    (My HP stories contain sexual material and one contains subdued description of the beginnings of a miscarriage and the intimate probing needed to treat it and I never got into trouble. And I rated both of them "Teen.")

    LiveJournal is also a possibility, since I think their content restrictions are less strict. That being said, unless your story is out-and-out pornography, you shouldn't have any problems with fanfiction.net.

  15. Matt,

    FanFiction.net has a two day waiting period from sign up to posting. I should be able to post sometime tomorrow evening. I'll put a link here once I've got it.

  16. Excellent. Welcome to the Dark Side. :)

    When your story is posted, I'll be sure to read it and comment on it.

  17. Matt,


    I *think* I have this link correct. This is a first draft, obviously, but I did edit it pretty thoroughly. There are some elements that I think will strike most people as "off" that I'll need to go back and change.

    It's also my first serious attempt at romance. Hope I didn't screw it up too much.

  18. I went to that link and got a "you must log in" screen. When I logged in, I ended up at my account page (where one sees one's stories, stats, etc.) and not at your story.

    I think I would only be able to view your story if you actually posted it. Sending me the link to the preview page won't work--the previews are for the author to view, not raders.

  19. Matt,

    Try this:


    I'm not finding it in the normal section where you browse for stories. I hope it gets posted there at some point.

  20. That link worked. I just posted a review.

    Considering how someone else reviewed it before I did, I think it's in the "normal section" now.

  21. Thanks for the review. I sent a PM back over fanfiction with some questions and thoughts.