[Games, etc.] Editing and Illustration
Magusrogue made the announcement on the White Wolf forums about the big project we've been working on - Even More Magic & Mayhem, a "netbook" or "fan supplement" presented in PDF format, fully formatted just like a "real" World of Warcraft d20 supplement, because we actually have the templates from Sword & Sorcery Studios / Arthaus, and the blessing from the head of the line.
My role was originally to be involved as illustrator. However, as documents were submitted into the holding area for the project, my curiosity got the better of me, and I actually wanted to read it all. Horror of horrors ... the editing was pretty atrocious. Now, some of it would have been caught with a simple pass through Microsoft Word, so it's fair to guess that the layout editor could have caught it all at the end. A great deal of it involved things like the subtle difference between "then" and "than," and "lose" and "loose" - things that some folk suppose are petty details, but which irritate me greatly when I'm reading a published document that gets them wrong. (Gwendel thinks I'm horribly picky.)
So, I started trying to be "helpful" by offering some redlines. After a while, things sort of got out of hand. Magusrogue appointed me "chief editor" which is somewhat of a misnomer, and was probably done largely in jest, since he's really the one calling the shots. Some of the writers have been very receptive of my efforts, and I've even gotten a chance to offer opinions (from my POV as a GM) on some of the material. (Namely, "How could some players abuse this new rule horribly?" or, "What rules arguments could this bit of ambiguous wording inspire?") Some of the writers just ignore my redlines and offer up new drafts that have exactly the same spelling and punctuation errors. Ah well.
Especially educational, though, has been a reading of the "SSS_MAP," a document that summarizes the style guide of Sword and Sorcery Studios. I have largely just seen them as some "hanger-on" d20 publisher, but one thing I have to respect is that somebody put some serious work into their style guide. Some of it consists of fairly basic of rules of grammar. Some of it is indispensible for a contributer to a publication, insofar as establishing WHICH rules (Strunk & White? AP standard? Something else?) are going to be followed - and in some cases why.
One thing I found especially neat was that, in order to indicate such things as headers and tables and indents, they have established a guide of using tabs that are interpreted by Adobe Pagemaker to turn into styles when the text is loaded in. Adobe Pagemaker! I was using that program back when it was Aldus Pagemaker. (Well, since version 3.0, anyway, and I think the latest version I have is only 5.0.) It's kind of neat to see that the program is still in use. (When I was in the job market, it seemed that everyone wanted QuarkXpress experience, or InDesign, or any number of word processors OTHER than Pagemaker.)
Magusrogue helpfully provided a packet with all of this information ... and it would appear that most of the writers haven't bothered with it. For me, at least, it's a fascinating read. (I can imagine Gwendel rolling her eyes at this.) It's fascinating in that there are several problems I run into, in my workplace, where the "rules" I was taught in school simply don't seem to take everything into account. My preferred method of writing is to phrase my sentences in ways to AVOID these confusing areas ... but when I'm forced into the role of editor (and when I'm expected NOT to simply rewrite the writer's words to avoid problems), I don't have that luxury. I actually have to figure out which is the right way to do it.
The trouble is, it seems that in some of these grey areas, there is no "right" way, per se ... just a whole lot of wrong ways. But in this case, it looks like someone put some serious thought into how to handle it, and some of it will actually be helpful for me in my "day job." I just love it when my hobbies actually help me with my work.
The funny thing, though, is where there are several notes in the SSS_MAP document that say, in essence, "If you have a habit of making this mistake and not correcting it before you send it to the editor, you may not be considered for future work with us." Heh. I guess those sorts of threats don't mean nearly so much when none of us are getting paid! (But then, I'm not sure anybody but me - and maybe Magusrogue - actually read them.)
Anyway, it looks like we're on the final stretch. I can't say as I'm entirely happy with all of the contents of the book - since (IMHO) too much effort is spent on introducing new spells, new prestige classes, new all-sorts-of-things that have no grounding at all in any precedent in Warcraft lore (the Warcraft RTS games, World of Warcraft MMORPG, or related fiction), but this is nothing unique to this project. (I would have rather spent time poring through lists of spells, powers, skills, creatures, items, etc., from the Warcraft RTS and WoW MMORPG, and offered interpretations of them in d20 format for a WoW d20 campaign. By drawing everything from an established source, it would lend the project a certain air of credibility, I think.)
While I have my redlines submitted for all the latest drafts, one task I was handed was to make changes to my cover art (which I think I posted a preview of here). I rather wish they could have given me that sort of feedback, oh, several weeks ago. I don't exactly want to be responsible for holding things up. ("Gee folks, we'd be done, but we have to wait on those slowpoke artists....") Basically, they want "more defined lines" in the picture, and to make it look more akin to the work of Samwise Didier (a major artist associated with the Warcraft line). I aim to please, so I'll see what I can do. At least this time I don't have to start all over from scratch.