The third draft. Quite an accomplishment. I look at the above illustration, a loving rendition of two characters that I somehow wrote, and try to think how it could have possibly come to this.
When I was seven years old, I saw a movie in the theater called DragonHeart. The first time I had ever seen a dragon in a heroic role, it was one of the most influential films of my childhood. A walking, talking dragon, on the side of courage and selflessness. I had never thought such a thing possible, and that experience changed the way I viewed fantasy stories forever.
When I was fifteen, after years of science fiction horror such as Alien and Predator, I was introduced to a game by a friend of mine called Dungeons & Dragons. It reintroduced me to the fantasy genre, showing me a creative world, filled with magical lands and deadly creatures. I even remember my first character, a Yuan T Abomination turned hero.
I had many fun trips with D&D, each one more amazing than the last. It was during that time that I hit on the idea of doing the definitive Dungeons & Dragons movie. That became my passion project while plowing through film school. If there was but one project I would do in my lifetime, that one would be it. While writing the story, I wrote in a character, a Red Dragon who would serve as a supporting player in the story of my plucky heroes. But somehow, in some way, this character rose above all the others.
He began to feel so alive, so strong, just so incredibly right. He tore the story from my hands, and began to make it his own. The great red wyrm weaved a tale of change and redemption that I am not nearly talented enough to come up with. He quickly became my favorite thing in the world.
He named himself Zhyx, and he is my hero.
Out of high school and through college the story began to take shape in the form of notes and artwork. Eventually a few scripts were drawn up, both of them terrible. I put the project on hold, seeking some fresh inspiration when I sat down and watched one of my favorite movies of all time.
Watching Doctor Jones go about his Nazi killing business always brightens my day. Once he threw that guy under the truck, the idea came “Has anyone ever done a fantasy like this?” To my knowledge, no one had. An action fantasy. That sparked a new life into the story, and was met with my protagonist’s approval.
A friend of mine in video editing told me one day that I should not make this story a D&D based narrative. “You should make this your own thing. Make your own world. Make your own rules. When you do something based on someone else’s work, you have to stick to certain rules. When you write something on your own, there are no rules.”
I gave his words much thought, and he was right. After that conversation with my friend, the world of Tygan was born.
This artwork was given to me by my good friend David Spada, and it gave my character a face. It made him almost real enough to reach out and touch. With the character now staring at me through the computer screen, there was no choice but to finish what I had started.
In June of 2014, I began writing it as a novel. That draft was finished in October. In November I began to write another, and that draft was finished in March. This stunning illustration of my leading character was completed by my good friend Joseph Buehrer. Now it was more than just seeing the characters. Now I was watching them play out the scenes they had told me to write.
Tygan had become a real place, with real people, and a story that mattered. It became not just the best story I had ever written, but one of my favorite stories I had ever read. It was almost impossible to accept that I was responsible for something that had come to mean as much to me if not more than things like Indiana Jones, Alien, Star Wars, and everything that had moulded me intot he person I am now.
But even after that 2nd draft, it wasn’t done. My characters told me so. There were lines that didn’t work. Stories that fell flat. Plot threads that went nowhere. It had to be gone through again. Starting in late March, I began another draft. This one to hammer out the problems with plot.
On June 14th, 2015, shortly before 10:30 AM, that draft was finished. It stands at 170,794 words, and 476 pages in 1.5 spacing.
Some of the signature sequences of the story, such as the climactic firestorm, were birthed in this draft. Some of the best characters, from Lord Blaine to Harad, were given life on the page. Some of the best lines of dialogue, from Professor Blondie’s tragic story of disaster to River’s taunting of the wicked Heavy, were spoken on these lines.
I wrote a book on June 14th, 2015, at 10:30 am. I never thought myself capable of writing a book.
Of course, it is not quite done. Now that the plot is squared away, it is time to polish up the prose and dialogue, a process that shouldn’t take nearly as long. Then comes the big decision. Do I self publish or do I go to a major publisher?
Will the book gain as much visibility in a self publishing market? Will it reach as many people? Provide as much income? And what about getting a traditional publisher? Will I have as much freedom as I am hoping for? How many words will I have to lose? How many characters and stories will be twisted and changed? Which option can get this story to as many people as possible, as intact as possible? So many questions.
But the time has come for me to rest for a spell. This book has taken up a year of my life, and I need a break to reflect on it, so that when the line editing comes, we can truly polish this story to a fine mirror shine.
In the meantime, I have much more writing to do. Some scripts could benefit from my attention. Jordan Childs and Jennifer Kessler have a serial killer to catch, Heather and The Dean have some evildoers to destroy, and Louis Wade has an apocalypse to survive. They should keep me plenty busy until August when I return to book one of Zhyx one last time.
Yes. Book one. There is much more story than could ever be told in a mere 170,794 words. You still have not been chased by the Dragon Eater. You still have not met the Supreme Healer of the Paladins face to face. You still don’t know where Zhyx will be taken on the long journey that awaits him. He knows, and he is eager to begin.
This page will still be updated with artwork and world building articles. There will still be plenty of news for you to see, and you shall see it as fast as we can provide it. New illustrations will be coming shortly.
Today, I wrote a book. That is more than most people can say. Thank you all for your support. Thank you Joseph Buehrer for your illustrations. Thank you David Spada for your designs. Thank you Cullen McCurdy for your input on the writing. Thank you Thomas Heban for telling me to make this my own story. Thank you Fallon Walker for saying it should be a book. Thank you everyone in my gamer’s group for believing in me. Thank you to my parents for putting me through school so I could learn about stories. Thank you for my teachers for bequeathing me all that you know.
But most of all, thank you Zhyx for choosing me to tell your story. I will do my best to make sure you are not disappointed.