The Road to Reaving…Part II

Warhawk backlit, photo by "Dak"

Continuing my commentary of the development of the Wars of Reaving. You’ll probably want to read Part I first, if only to get the full effect.

The Fall of Disquiet

Shortly after GenCon 2010, I was chatting with Herb during one of our semi-regular “catch-up” calls regarding the line. We usually discuss upcoming product, future plans, print schedules, writer evaluations, etc. in those calls. And the War of Reaving book (that was the working title at the time) came up.

It was now on the schedule for the beginning of 2012. The schedule had been radically changed (for a variety of reasons) and the result meant that WOR got booted to an earlier date. I admit, the initial news was very exciting. Especially when I was tenetively given full authorship, though I could pull in additional help if necessary.

My first task was to get an initial outline submitted. Fortunately I did have one in a rough form, though nowhere near our standard CGL project format. It went like this:

WOR Sourcebook Tentative Outline

TOC/How to Use this Book


Art: Full page before chapter
Detailing some of the events post 3061 that lay the foundation of the WOR
Sidebar: Clan exploration
Sidebar: Diamond Shark market expansion
Sidebar: Quest for an ilKhan (by Kael Pershaw)

Covering Jan 1, 3067 – Dec 1, 3071
Art: Full page before chapter
Probably broken into Clan by Clan sections, focusing on each Clan’s actions during this four-year stretch.
Sidebar: The Tanite colonies
Sidebar: The new ilKhan
Sidebar: The Hellion’s gamble

Covering Dec 1, 3071 – Feb 3074
Art: Full page before chapter
Clan by Clan sections, including one for ??? (at the end).
Sidebar: War of Words

Covering Jan 3074 – August 3075
Art: Full page before chapter
Clan by Clan sections, covering the final stages of the Homeworlds
Sidebar: Where do we go from here?

Covering August 3075 – Dec 3081
Art: Full page before chapter; Clan logos
Clan by Clan sections, but more epilogue in tone, similar to how the Clan synopsis was done in Op: Klondike SB. Focus mainly on the major adjustments to each society, plus holdings and current political tone.
Sidebar: Return home to Terra?

Personalities (optional)
New faction 1
New faction 2
Dark Caste

Rules Annex
New ProtoMechs (3 new art)
New Mechs (3 new art, one recycled):
ProtoMech Weapons/Equipment
New ‘Mech weapon/equipment (TO style):
RPG elements
Other equipment
-Half-page each; minor fluff, mostly RPG mechanics.

Record Sheets (12-13 pages)

(There was a bit more detail here but I removed it due to possible spoiling of the finished product.)

I’ll make it clear now that this in no way is even close to the final form of how things worked out. You’ll understand why as we go along.

Final proof for Khan Magnus DelVillar

The outline is more for an idea of how many words we’re looking at for the product, to get an idea of page count. That, in turn, gives us a good estimate for initial price. These are important because retailer sell sheets for coming quarters are prepared well in advance.

Speaking of which, I also had to quickly do up a BCC, or “back cover copy.” It’s what you see on the back of a book, to give you an idea of the contents. I was a little hesitant to write this, because it can lock you down if things go awry, but I did the best I could. The BCC probably looks familiar to those who saw the recent listing on Amazon:

As the Word of Blake unleashed their Jihad, one enemy of the Inner Sphere remained in the shadows, riven by internal strife and dissent. As political and military alliances among the children of Nicholas Kerensky are broken and forged, the Clans turn inward as one Clan unleashes the unthinkable upon the rest. A war that reaches deep into the bloodlines of each; none are untouched. Those who survive will not speak of it. A war of Reaving. The Clans will never be the same. Wars of Reaving details the long-sought happenings of the Clans after the results of the Great Refusal through the end of the Jihad, compiled from detailed reports culled from each of the Clans and others. Included within are personalities, equipment, units, and factions that all had a hand in the upheaval that enveloped the Homeworlds, changing them forever.

So by September 2010, I had a rough outline, several notebooks of jotted notes and ideas, my master Clan timeline built from already-published and soon-to-be published material, and a BCC. I was set to begin serious plot and story construction, including forming characters, pivotal events, and more. Things were set for a good pace…until….

I was informed at the end of September the book would now be released in summer 2011, due to another shuffle in the schedule.

Still very doable, by the way. I built several milestones to hit; first draft completed by early January, playtest/factcheck through February, editing in March, layout to begin in April. That gave me fivemonths to craft and write the book. Plenty of time…


At the same time all of this was going on, I was in negotiations with another publisher regarding my non-fiction book, Gamer’s Most Wanted. And that one nailed down a publication date of November 2011. Which meant they wanted the first draft by February 15, 2011.

I now had a roughly 100K word sourcebook to create AND half of a 50K word non-fiction book to write.

In roughly five months.

Across two major holidays AND my anniversary trip with my wife to Europe. And I work a full-time job in downtown DC.

Suddenly, things did not look rosey at all.

Reaving01, photo by "Dak"

An easy fix would be to farm out the WOR to other authors, but I rejected that notion fairly quickly. Partly because I still wanted this project, and partly because I felt that the best voice to tell the story needed to be a consistent one; I’d already rejected the Hot Spots format of scattered reports across a theme. That worked fine for the Jihad (and I stand behind that assertion) but it would not work at all for the Clans. It didn’t fit their culture, their character.

The book had to be told in one voice, regardless of whether the time frame was from 100 years in the future (making the WOR a Historical) or in the near-aftermath (a la the FedCom Civil War sourcebook). And that meant it had to be one author to maintain cohesion.

What to do?

In the end, I had to choose. I began work on WOR, collating my timeline and notes, then writing each Clan’s story from start to finish. I cleared through four Clans…and then lost steam. It was exceptionally hard to do, because as each Clan interacted, they had to have their own perspectives on how events went. Each subsequent Clan was even more difficult, so researching and constantly reworking details increased exponentially with every new Clan section. Which meant constant reviewing and checking against prior work…and that took time. I was aiming for 4K a night; I was clearing 1500, maybe 2000 on a roll, and both time and my word counts were slipping.

At the same time, my day job’s busiest period is late October through December. My biggest projects are at this time, and it sucks a lot of mental energy. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was eat and just be with my wife. Everything slipped and I stopped writing completely around Thanksgiving.

At that point, I had a choice to make. Gamer’s Most Wanted was an easier write (each chapter is 2,000 words), so I turned to that project instead. And WOR was pushed to the side in December after emailing Herb and Randall and telling them it wasn’t going to happen within the initial timeframe. (There’s more to this period that I’ll cover in a future post.)

Which worked out perfectly. Another project had shifted into the summer slot due to its own lag, so WOR was moved to Christmas 2011. My deadline was pushed to August.

Everything was working out…until a phone call at the end of April, 2011.

(To be continued)

9 thoughts on “The Road to Reaving…Part II

    1. Oh come on, you think I’d make it easy and spill information like that? It’s a patient process. 🙂

  1. Let’s not forget the biggest time suck taking away from his writing, managing his two fantasy hockey teams.

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