October 2020

October has been a “back of house” month.

At the beginning of the month, I wrote the last few episodes of the sixth arc. After that I spent most of the month finalizing episodes for the third through to the sixth story arcs so they’re ready to be published on the site, and I can stop trying to balance the publishing work and the writing work at the same time.

I’ve been a committed mono-tasker for a long time, and yet the myth of multitasking still raises its head and convinces me that I can split my attention in multiple ways at once. And it’s true to an extent, I have a day job, my family, and writing, and it’s necessary to divide my attention between them, but with the writing I’m finding it’s nice to just have once piece of it in my mind at a time so I can focus completely on it. Batching publishing and writing so they don’t overlap, also means I can give myself a couple of days between story arcs to figure out how I want to tackle the next one.

There were a few things I needed to fix about the site too, so I spent some time working on that. Previously, the site was structured with every episode branching off from the home page, i.e., www.cogs.ws/the-dragons-eye, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean I couldn’t have any duplicate episode titles between arcs (I’m not really planning to, but who knows), and I think the new structure is probably more helpful to readers. Now, we have the site www.cogs.ws/ the story arc, malicious-designs/ and the episode the-dragons-eye which gives us things like www.cogs.ws/malicious-designs/the-dragons-eye.

And at the story arc level (for instance, www.cogs.ws/malicious-designs) I’ve created reference pages for the individual arcs. These are generated automatically by a desktop app (that sounds more professional than it is) that I built to help me keep track of the story details. As the story progresses, you’ll start to see there’s a pretty big list of characters, and the time scale is quite a long (on the home page I state the stories span millennia). The app helps me keep everything straight, characters and their relationships to each other, the order of events and how the stories all fit together. Now I’ve modified it to give me a snippet of HTML for each story arc that can be pasted into cogs.ws. I’m quite pleased with it, it is mostly automatic, and I’ve set it up to generate the character list with a description of each character.

Because I want to avoid including spoilers in the character list, I’ve set it up so that each character’s description can be a generic line that applies to them throughout the entire series, or I can override it with a description that applies to them for specific story arcs and only appears on the pages for those arcs. Names can have specific meanings in these stories and they change over time so I can override those too. The process lets me keep everything automated and consistent, but also tailor each arc’s page as necessary.

Because the stories are told out of chronological order, each of these pages includes a timeline that shows where it and the stories before it fit on the timeline.

For instance, here’s the timeline from the third story arc that starts publishing next week:

The Timeline

It’s fairly straight forward at the moment, but as the story progresses, the timeline gets longer and more complicated. Luckily this is also auto-generated by my story tracking app, so all I have to do is paste it in with the character list.

Now that October is over and I have all the existing episodes lined up for publication, the site structure how I want it, and the arc pages in place, I’m looking forward to diving into the seventh story arc. This one is tentatively titled The Mad God’s Playground and picks up with Avril as he deals with the consequences of his story so far. I have a couple of ideas that I’d like to include in this one and I understand its place in the overall story, but other than that this is going to be another adventure in discovery writing to see what happens.

Wish me luck!

You've successfully subscribed to Cogs Web Serial.
Thanks for subscribing to Cogs! Check your email to complete the sign up process.
Success! Your billing info is updated.