They say it’s the most important part of Comedy. They say it’s Everything.
They say a lot of things about timing, but if you asked me when I started writing my own “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in the 4th Grade whether I’d ever publish one, my answer would have been the same as today.
I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve written some pretty bad prose in my time. Shaggy-haired college me read doggerel in coffee shops, composed under trees while looking at ducks. Post-college angry me spewed out lyrics and cranked hit singles with the rest of the grunge generation.
I’ve released game products on too-tight a deadline with not enough review, and earned every bad word sent in my direction by customers and their dead characters. But some of those characters deserved to die, and DMs and players alike also had good things to say about what I’d put on the page.
Today, I’m fairly confident that I’ve turned over the best story I possibly could in Hearts of Iron. For starters, I was in the right place at the right time to get in with a pretty cool bunch of co-creators and editors. My schedule aligned with the stars, and instead of Dread Cthulu’s continent rising, I was able to write a far better story than my 10, 20, and 30 year old selves could imagine.
I had to be able to accept that my words were not golden honey dripping from the sky. That my characters had not in fact sprung full-formed and perfect from my skull, but needed work to be not only distinctive, but compelling to people who are not me.
I had to surrender to the story, while at the same time remaining in charge.
I’ve written a lot of words in the last few weeks about the process of writing, about story, characters, setting, and even what happens after a book leaves your hands. But the time for that sort of thing has ended, at least for now.
It’s time for you to tell me things. How you liked (or didn’t like) the story I’ve told. What you’d have done with the same characters, or what you think they should have done on their travels.
How likely you are to want more words of this kind, from this author.
The time of pre-release has passed. It’s now the Age of (Hearts of) Iron, and I’m truly finished with the piece.
It’s been a hell of a ride. Enjoy, everybody.