Week two is in the books, and the first draft of Acts of War II is coming along. Here’s my writing report card for the week. If you missed last week’s update, you can find that right here.
Progress: I wrote 12,021 words for week two, slightly more than week one. I ended my writing for the week in the middle of chapter eight and pretty close to the end of act one (should have that wrapped up this week). That’s solid progress, and if I keep it up, I’ll finish the first draft well ahead of schedule.
The Best Part: Secondary characters. If you are not familiar with the work I do for Privateer Press, you might not know the Iron Kingdoms is not a world I created. Far from it. It was created by Privateer Press, my publisher, and many of the major characters in the novel are preexisting characters from the setting. While I love writing about the famous heroes and villains of the Iron Kingdoms, I do get to create a bunch of secondary characters from whole cloth in each novel. That’s always fun because I get to add a little to the lore of the Iron Kingdoms.
The Hard Part: Secondary characters. Yep, this week it’s a double-edged sword. When I’m writing about Stryker or Magnus, I don’t have to worry about coming up with a setting-appropriate background; that’s already built in. When I create a character from scratch, I have to make sure he or she actually fits in the Iron Kingdoms. This can often be a challenge because I don’t want to give you the character’s life story in a massive info dump. Instead, I try to find little details that anchor the character in the setting and don’t require a lot of space to communicate. For example, one of the men under Magnus’ command is a former merc who worked with the warcaster while he was a mercenary. That’s easy to get across in a sentence or two, and it grounds the character firmly in the setting. The fact that he’s a former pirate that once served aboard one of Captain Bartolo Montador’s ships is just icing on the cake (and me having a little fun).
Mini Excerpt: This week’s mini excerpt features Lord General Stryker interacting with one of those secondary characters I spoke about. This one, a captain in the Steelheads Mercenary Company, isn’t exactly impressed by the famous Cygnaran warcaster (despite the awesome concept art from Matthew D. Wilson below).
“I am surprised Marshal d’Elyse would not ride out to meet an old ally,” Stryker said. From a strategic perspective, he understood why she had sent an envoy, but she had sent a mercenary, not one of her own men. The message and the slight were clear.
“Is that what you are, Lord General?” the Steelhead captain said. “There are some who think different.”
“What is your name, mercenary?” Captain Archer said, her disgust plain. Many knights had little regard for mercenaries, finding their shifting loyalties distasteful, but Stryker couldn’t say if Captain Archer numbered among them or if she was simply taken aback by this particular Steelhead’s impertinence.
“Captain Artis Keller, at your service,” the Steelhead said and touched one finger to his helmet. “And, ma’am, I don’t consider that word an insult, even when you spit it at me.”
Gotta love a sassy Steelhead, right?
Have a questions or a comment about the book, the Iron Kingdoms, or my writing process? Ask away in the comments section below.
Oh, and remember, you can still get the first book in this series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, at a 25% discount from the Skull Island eXpeditions website by entering the code ACTSOFWAR1 at check out.
I am incredible excited for book 2. When I was starting to get back into Warmachine, I bought Flashpoint from Audible. I’ve listened toit well over a dozen times! It has done more to inspire me to paint Cygnar than anything before, I even went out and bought Stryker3 and some Storm Lances because if how determined and effective they were in the book. It was also the first time that I’ve ever thought that Magnus isn’t a bad guy, and maybe there is more to him than first glance suggests. And I nearly cried when someone in particular died on a boat. Excellent story telling that made characters that could be attached to.
Thanks, Justin. Glad you enjoyed Flashpoint. There’s a lot more Storm Lance action coming your way; in fact, Captain Archer, mentioned briefly in this mini-excerpt is a Storm Lance officer.
I’m also gonna try and make you like Magnus even more in the next book. 🙂 He’ll get a mini-excerpt next week.
The final comment of that excerpt really resonates with how I’ve seen Mercenaries as a faction. I got a really good sense of how the steelheads think and live through “Cold Steel”, the story about Sargeant Nicholas Verendrye. The idea that steelheads really are a family bonded by war and strife, and that a great many of its membership don’t see belonging to a chapter as a manner of employment, but rather serving an ever shifting cause for coin with brothers and sisters united in cause is a prevalent theme in this world, and that last sentence just further mollifies that perception.
I can’t wait for release day!
I love mercenaries. I love writing about them, I love reading about them, and it’s great they have such a big role in the Iron Kingdoms. That whole brotherhood of the unwanted vibe that a lot of mercs have really appeals to me, and it’s definitely present in groups like the Steelheads. (Miles Holmes did a great job with in “Cold Steel.”)
Thanks for the comment. Stay tuned; there’s plenty more merc mayhem coming. 😉
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