Design Diary No.1 Getting Started

Well, I said at the end of 2012 my plan is to self-publish Parsantium as a city campaign sourcebook this year. So, what have I managed so far?

The first thing I had to do was to get all the material I had written for my two 4e campaigns over the last five years into Scrivener, the excellent writing software I am using for the book. Scrivener allows me to have the actual manuscript, as well as notes, research materials and so on, all in one place, and has a built in outlining function, using a virtual corkboard. It is very cool. Once I’d done this, I organised everything I had into a rough outline for the book – you can make each section a separate document and have the program compile it all at the end. This makes juggling stuff around really easy.

Then, I sat down with my collection of D&D city supplements, including Ptolus, the Zobeck Gazetteer, Waterdeep, Sharn, Freeport and Bluffside, to see how other writers and publishers had structured their urban sourcebooks, and what they had covered. I found this really useful and interesting, and it helped me tighten up the outline, coming up with ways to amalgamate sections, as well as prompting me to add some topics I hadn’t thought about. Some things I’m not sure about yet. For example, is it better to have all the NPCs in one chapter, or attach them to the locations where they might be found? Most of the books I looked at went for a combination of both approaches, with the more important characters in a separate section and the minor ones described with their place of work.

Once I’d done this, I did some rough word count targets for each section. At the moment, I am planning the whole book to be 40,000 words but this could end up being way too few or too many. I’m not sure yet!

That’s it for preparation for now. My aim is to complete the first draft in 15 weeks, writing around 2,500-3,000 words per week. Since I already have a fair bit of material to work with for some sections, certain chapters will go quicker than others. I’ve completed an initial overview of the city setting, including Six Things You Need to Know, and have starting working on the History section. I need to get this bit pinned down as this will help inform many of the details of each quarter of the city.

I’m really enjoying this so far!

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