Learning From the Past (Devilspawn/Maxwell Novacek Update)

After ten months of radio silence, I have a new update on the status of Devilspawn and the Maxwell Novacek stories.

Alright, well, it’s been almost ten months since I last posted something, so I think it’s about time for an update.

First things first: the first draft of the next Maxwell Novacek story was finished last April or May. However, there were a lot of issues I needed to fix and, given that I was working fifty hours a week, I had little time to think about how to do so. As of December, my day job has decreased in hours significantly, but I’ve been working on other things, namely: Devilspawn.

I have wrapped up the current draft and will soon be sending it out to beta readers. After that, it’ll hopefully only have to go through one more revision before being ready for its first phase of release; which brings us to the matter at hand.

I’ve been thinking for a while about why I like writing. I like to reach people. I like to speak into their lives and help them see from perspectives other than their own. And I also like to help foster community. Every time I see some big franchise with a huge following, I love it. To see so many people come together under one like interest is something that is beautiful to me. To be able to build something that does that for people would be huge. But I write slow.

I have a tendency to completely forget projects I’m working on for months at a time, only to come back and remember nothing, thereby forcing me to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to remember what I was doing, where I was going with it. I have a tendency to write things that are either very short or long, sweeping narratives. Someone slow to create is often someone slow to release. Slow to release often means work going unseen and unheard. Of course, quick to release can have a similar effect, but only releasing one really big novel and then releasing the next several years down the line—especially in the self-publishing atmosphere—is a recipe for disaster.

Sidenote that I remembered as I was wrapping up this post: I also like fan theories or predictions about the future of a piece of media. The latter of which is difficult to foster in a novel like Devilspawn where most of the mysteries related to the main plot are wrapped up by the end of the novel since Devilspawn is meant to stand alone while also supplying and gaining more context to and from the other novels in the series (as are the rest of the novels planned to be in the Void Jumpers Chronicles).

So, I’ve decided I’m not going to release one giant novel. Instead, I’m going to follow a model similar to what I had planned for Isle of the Dreamer, but with a few fixes. For those unaware, Isle of the Dreamer released chapter by chapter as a web serial.

One major problem with Isle of the Dreamer was a lack of planning. At that point, I had little to show. I had no preparation, I was making everything on the spot, with no planning ahead. I couldn’t make promotional materials, I couldn’t schedule social media campaigns, I couldn’t do anything to make it seen and, even if I did, it was destined to culminate into nothing short of an incoherent mess.

Devilspawn is already written and will be finished before I release even the first chapter. I’m having people beta read Devilspawn instead of rushing out a chapter in two hours and giving it a once over because I suddenly realize I’m past my deadline. I have time to build a schedule and to plan how I’m going to push each chapter, figure out what each chapters’ strengths and weaknesses are, figure out what can draw people in. I already have plans to start up a Patreon, something likely to draw people back as I release things such as author commentaries or other bonus materials like deleted scenes. I’m planning on making images to draw in the eyes and to act as headings to ease people into various scenes.

Sidenote again: I also wrote the current draft with that format in mind: the chapters are longer so that they each hold self-contained plots while also building toward the main plot of the novel at the same time.

This round of beta reading is currently scheduled to be done in late July (which is later than I would like, but, hey, what can you do?). While that’s going on, I’m planning to work on scheduling the release and development of the supplemental materials. As well, I’m going to work on other projects that (should) release more regularly, such as Maxwell Novacek (which needs to be done before Devilspawn can start releasing because reasons), commentary videos, and audio renditions of my other short stories.

My optimistic estimate for the release of the first chapter of Devilspawn is the last week of August/first week of September, though a late-September or early-October release is more likely, especially if I decide I want to have an audio version of Devilspawn releasing with the main chapters instead of waiting until later.

That said, depending on how things go, there’s a lot of editing that may need to be done. As previously stated, Devilspawn is long, coming in at nearly 150k words in its current state, which is a lot to ask of people for a debut novel. Allegedly. The format with which I’m releasing Devilspawn might make that less of an issue, but I may need to trim it down.

After Devilspawn’s release, my plan is to release a print version of the book for people to buy and probably a deluxe edition with the aforementioned deleted scenes (those that I couldn’t make fit or no longer worked due to a change in the novel’s direction) including an epic history-style prologue (because only the real fans care about epic history-style prologues).

I hope to be releasing blog posts and short stories on at least an every-other-week basis from here on out, even if those blog posts happen to just be status updates on changes I needed to make to Devilspawn or examples of the aforementioned scene images.

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Taking a Step Back (Isle of the Dreamer Update)

After a 5-month hiatus, I finally have decided what I’m going to do about Isle of the Dreamer.

Sometimes, you just need to take a step back from your work. Sometimes, you need to take a step back, look at it as a whole, and evaluate, “Is this what I should really be doing, or is this just a waste of my time?” Sometimes, the answer is one, sometimes the other.

Isle of the Dreamer has been put on hiatus for the past 5 months. This was for multiple reasons, but I think the main reason is that I was going about it the wrong way. See, I made the amateur mistake of deciding that I was going to post the chapters as I wrote them, as that would force me to follow a deadline: 1 chapter per week. This resulted in: (a) a fluctuation from week to week on the quality of writing and (b) inconsistencies resulting from me either deciding to go in a different direction or from forgetting key details.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have started posting Isle of the Dreamer at all if I had received the advice of ‘don’t do exactly what you’re doing’ before I started posting it. However, I found that advice immediately after I started posting the story so here we are: with an incomplete story that ended on a cliffhanger five months ago and has just been hanging in limbo ever since.

Those five months has given me some time to think things over and decide where I want to go with the story. Assuming that I want to try to release something of high enough quality to exemplify my talents (which I do), I have decided the best decision is to go back to the beginning. At the time that I publish this post, I intend to remove the existing 13 chapters of Isle of the Dreamer from XavierMakes so that I can go about writing it properly, giving it the attention and proper procedure that it deserves.

Once I have finished going all the way through (telling myself the story, as Terry Pratchett would put it), then I will begin posting the chapters on the website, and be able to do so much more consistently as a result. I suspect this will also allow me to bring the chapters up to a similar standard that my short stories are at. The story itself, before being posted, will go through multiple self-edits and be subject to the scrutiny of some of the most critical people I know, alongside other authors (hopefully).

Most of the changes will probably be superficial, but there likely will be some changes to the narrative and almost definitely changes to the format. An idea that I’ve been bouncing around in my head for a while is restructuring Isle of the Dreamer to be a series of 10 or so short stories approximately 8,000 words each with an overarching plot. I believe this will work better for an online format than the previous intention of it being a single cohesive novel.

This will take me some time and detract from my attention to the main novel I’ve been working on, Devilspawn, but I think, overall, it’s a wise decision in terms of thinking for the future.

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