My First Draft is Complete…

I have finished the first draft of my novella and I am ready to move onto the next step. That is proving a little more difficult than anticipated…

On the morning of August 31st, I wrote the last word in my manuscript. Final word count came to 27,800 words. It has been a great feeling. Since then, I have been researching how to go about my next step in getting it published. That step is recruiting beta readers and distributing the manuscript to them. It’s not a straight forward process and leaving me at a bit of a stalemate.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as asking several random people to read it and give me the feedback. Through my research, it is suggested not to use people that are close to you as they might not provide the best feedback. That is understandable, though I do have a couple people in mind that I do trust to have a critical eye and to give honest feedback (my brother, for example… especially when it comes to grammar).

That said, I intend to find about 5 to 10 beta readers (plus a few select ones… like my brother). For those that I do not know, there comes another issue. Security! While I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, I have been burned before and have seen others burned as well. Giving a complete stranger (or even an internet acquaintance) my manuscript comes with risks.

I saw on a reddit thread where an author asked about NDA’s for their beta readers. They were immediately attacked for being egotistical and made fun of with comments that their work was not “good enough” to be stolen. Only one comment was helpful to the author’s inquiry before the thread was locked to commenting. I personally believe that anybody, no matter their product, has the right to have their work protected. I have certainly considered this method myself. I am not saying that my work is the next best thing, but I still want to protect it before putting it out there.

Along similar lines, another consideration is the process of distributing the manuscript to potential beta readers. Should I print out manuscripts and mail it out (the word document… at double spaced 12-pt Times New Roman… is at 91 pages) to potential readers physically? Or would some sort of online distribution method be better? If the latter, how can I ensure that only the people that I want to have access can see it?

Well, that is where I am at currently. If anybody has any recommendations or solutions that I can pursuit, I would be greatly appreciative. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will be able to move on with this step. My goal is to have all feedback from beta readers by the end of October. Then I can do my revisions make my manuscript ready to send to an editor. I would like to be at that step by the end of the year. Ultimately, my goal is to publish the book in the spring.

Feel free to comment with any suggestions that you may have. I look forward to it. This is quite a learning process… and a journey.

An Ode to Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy has had great impact over the years. It’s stories have made a difference in my life, for certain, and could be labeled as the source of my inspiration in writing and the fantasy genre in general.

I have long loved the fantasy genre of fiction. Whether books, movies, or video games, I find myself pulled into worlds of mystery and magic. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, The Wheel of Time is one of my all-time favorite series in the genre (and of all time, for that matter). As a kid, I watched and enjoyed movies such as Legend, Star Wars, Labyrinth, and Willow. I can quote many lines from The Princess Bride (I consider it fantasy, even though there is little “magic”). But I never really grasped the genre until I played a little game called (ironically) Final Fantasy.

Admittedly, it has been a while since I picked up a Final Fantasy title. Aside from dabbling in some of the offshoots (Final Fantasy Tactics) or using the characters included in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I have not really played any of the games much. I have a couple of the classics on Steam, yet I haven’t really dived into them yet. Actually, I haven’t really picked up a Final Fantasy game since Final Fantasy IX on the original Playstation. I guess a big part of it is that the series seems to have slipped away from what I loved back in the glory days.

It’s not that I hate the Playstation Final Fantasies. When FF VII was released, I marveled at the FMVs that carried the story along. I enjoyed FF VIII despite its challenge. I actually liked FF IX the most of the Playstation FFs even though I never finished it (largely due to life and circumstance). But there was something missing in those entries that I could not just get. Perhaps that is why those iterations don’t really resonate with me like the earlier entries in the series.

One of the biggest moments that everyone sites from Final Fantasy VII [SPOILER WARNING from here on out] was when Aeris was killed by Sephiroth. I admit that I was shocked at that moment too, but I think I was more mad than anything. I spent so much time leveling up and powering up the character for her to be gone not even half way through the game. The emotional resonance just was not there as strong for me.

Those who site Aerith’s Death as the most impactful obviously did not live through the sacrifice of Palom And Porom who turned themselves to stone to save the party. Sure, they were restored at the end, but it still stung when it happened. Then there was the moment when Celes, stranded all alone after the world broke, threw herself from a cliff in desperation because all hope was seemingly gone. And while she did so, a version of the song she sang at the opera played sorrowfully in the background, adding to the raw emotion of the scene. It was a masterpiece.

No, nothing beats the glory days of the SNES Final Fantasies. I stand by that statement! Final Fantasy IV and VI (2 and 3 as I remember them) were the real games that got me into the genre of fantasy and, also, inspired me to become a writer. From the moment that the airships are flying across the screen, the story of Final Fantasy IV pulled me in and never let go. Sure, it had some moments of cheesiness, but often that cheesiness added to the narrative in a delightful way (I’m looking at you, “Spoony Bard”). It was an epic battle of Good vs Evil with characters coming and going that elevate it to the Lord of the Rings of video games. It was amazing what could be accomplished with 16-bit sprites.

If Final Fantasy IV was the video game equivalent of LotR, then Final Fantasy VI could easily be equated to Game of Thrones. I mentioned before the scene where one of the main characters attempts suicide. But that is just one of many impactful scenes. The number of impactful, sorrowful, or just plain emotional scenes could fill a book. It was story telling at its finest.

Despite the more steampunk setting, FF VI had the pivotal impact that drove home my desires for my future. I just didn’t know how to get there at the time. Since that game, the phoenix has resonated with me. I feel it is because of the scene where Locke (who I always assumed as myself when playing) attempted to raise his lost love through the power of the phoenix. Now, I have a tattoo of a phoenix on my back. Perhaps it is because no matter what hardships I go through, I keep rising back up to face new challenges.

Whatever the case, Final Fantasy has clearly had a great impact on me and my life. I will always remember the trips I took along the way. Whether it was flying to the moon or taking an airship into the earth and dealing with Dwarves or defying a tyrant by “riding” a castle into the sand or spending a night at the opera, the fondness of those memories will carry on forever.

With that said, I have been working on a project over the last few weeks that would bring my own game to life. Utilizing the program RPG Maker MZ (a tool designed for making games similar to Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest). It is a game dedicated and for my daughter, Savannah. As of this moment, I am about halfway through the outline for the story, and I have found many scenes and elements that are reminiscent of those old Final Fantasy stories. The theme of crystals has popped up in my story and I have quite a few little homages to the series. I find it fitting.

In the days and weeks to come, I would like to share some of the development of this game, and eventually, when I complete it, share it to the world. While the story is more lighthearted and a bit tongue-in-cheek (it IS for a soon-to-be 6-year-old), some deeper elements are seeping in. That is OK. I would be happy if it grows with her. Ultimately, I hope that, years from now, it causes the same feelings for her that I feel for those classic Final Fantasy titles.

Conclusion I’m far from the first person to point out the irony of the use of the word “final” in the title. Not just because the games are still being made, but because of how long even the earlier ones have endured. For me, it was not final, but a beginning.