Writing Acts of War II – Week 7 Update

Seven weeks on the board, and the first draft of Acts of War: Aftershock is in the home stretch.

Here’s how week seven breaks down:

Progress: I wrote 12,040 words and ended on chapter 29. My total word count is near 80,000 words, and I feel pretty confident the first draft is going to be somewhere between 90,000 and 95,000. So, with a good push, I should complete the first draft by the end of this week. That’s about a month ahead of schedule, which will give me plenty of time to go back through the draft and clean it up before I hand it over to Privateer Press.

The Best Part: Four warcasters at once! As WARMACHINE players know, warcasters are the most potent pieces on the battlefield. In the game, it’s rare to field more than one, and this is supported in the narrative in that warcasters are usually found leading large numbers of troops or even entire armies. This week, I had the chance to write a bunch of scenes with four warcasters working as a small unit. That means overlapping spells, feats, and abilities and heretofore unseen combinations of epic badassery.

The Hard Part: Four warcasters at once? Yep, another two-for this week. As fun as it is to write about a small unit of warcasters taking it to the bad guys, I had to do a fair amount of bookkeeping to make sure the spells and abilities I was describing in the narrative would actually work together on the tabletop. Sure, some creative license is okay, but you gotta try and avoid direct rules violations. For example, if Ashlynn and Magnus use their feats at the same time, there are lots of ways I can describe that and not break any rules. On the other hand, I cannot have Ashlynn hit her Mule heavy warjack with a Quicken spell and then have Magnus layer Bullet Dodger on top of that (cuz they’re both friendly upkeep spells). I gave you that last example because I wrote a scene with that exact mechanical mistake and had to go back and rewrite it. For a while, though, I was having some fun with +4 DEF, +2 SPD, and Dodge on the same warjack. That Mule was practically dancing across the battlefield.

Mini Excerpt: One of the things I most enjoy about writing in the Iron Kingdoms are warjacks. Sure, what’s not to love about multi-ton steam-powered metal monsters that can wreck buildings and flatten enemy troops by the dozen? But the really cool part about warjacks is that they are not just machines. A warjack’s cortex, its mechanikal brain, allows it to develop a personality and even rudimentary emotions as it gets older. So, in essence, warjacks are characters too, and one of the most famous character warjacks in Lord General Coleman Stryker’s personal heavy, the cantankerous Ironclad known as Ol’ Rowdy. Today’s mini-excerpt and concept art focus on the cranky old warjack and his penchant for doing whatever the hell he wants.


Stryker saw the cause of Rowdy’s alarm. The Storm Lances he’d set to guard Sergeant Harcourt had been flanked and shot down by a unit of Winter Guard riflemen. Harcourt had dismounted–or, likely, had fallen from his saddle–and was crouched down behind his horse. His ‘jack wrench was in hand, but it was obvious combat was the furthest thing from his mind. The Winter Guard were closing on him, and two of them had drawn axes to finish off the cowering mechanik.

He felt Rowdy wanting to pull away, to go and help Sergeant Harcourt, to crush those who threatened the field mechanik. Again, he was perplexed by the emotional response from the warjack. Rowdy wanted to protect Harcourt more than he wanted to follow Stryker’s orders.

I’ll help him, Stryker thought to Rowdy. You deal with that Destroyer. Mollified, Rowdy stopped fighting him and focused his attention on the Khadoran warjack. Stryker kept his promise and raced toward Harcourt, blasting one of the Winter Guard off his feet with a bolt from Quicksilver and drawing the attention of the others.

Aw, looks like Ol’ Rowdy made a new friend. Stryker’s gonna be so jealous. 😉

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the progress reports for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:


Check out the first book in this series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, if you haven’t already. You can get the e-book at 25% off from the Skull Island eXpeditions website by entering the code ACTSOFWAR1 at checkout.

3 Comments on “Writing Acts of War II – Week 7 Update

  1. You always got the most metal art in your writing updates brother.

    — Gregory Svoboda Fitness & Lifestyle Coach

    *In an effort to boost productivity and efficiency I presently check/respond to email at 11am and 4pm on weekdays. If you need anything immediately, please don’t hesitate to call me! Thank you for your support.

  2. Pingback: Aeryn’s Archives – Acts of War: Aftershock – Aeryn Rudel's Rejectomancy

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