Writing Illidan Part Two

So there I was back in Europe, trying to figure out how to proceed. I had a long document full of ideas from the folks at Blizzard and the somewhat confused and incoherent notes I had taken myself in Irvine. Now all I had to do was make a book out of them, and with a fairly tight deadline too.

My first stop was to read through the Blizzard notes. These gave an outline of the story, its themes and the marks I was going to have to hit. I had never really dealt with anything like this before. My previous tie-in works consisted of coming up with characters and/or storylines and getting them approved.

The outline I had been given was dramatic, and I was familiar with large chunks of the story. Most Blizzard fans would be. It was the tale of Illidan from Warcraft 3 and Burning Crusade very cleverly reworked to stand what people thought they knew about the lore on its head. Without changing any of the details of the story, it changed everything about my understanding of what had happened during BC.

Running inside the main narrative was a new one, detailing the recruitment, training and eventual fate of a Demon Hunter. This was exciting. In game terms, it was a whole new class, and as a player, I was thrilled to have some input here and to get a sneak preview of what was to come. There was a problem, though— the details of the class were not set yet, so I was going to have to go ahead with many specific details about the class and trust that they would be filled in as I went along.

In addition, there was a truly unique problem in my experience as a tie-in writer. I had actually been present at many of the events described in the outline, in some cases many times. In the case of Black Temple, I had seen it from both Alliance and Horde sides. This raised some questions.

I had to make a decision about what to cut and what to keep in. You could write a book just about the Black Temple Raid itself— which given everything else that was going on was not an option. I also had to find points of view and key scenes that would make it clear to the reader what was going on, and I could not assume that any reader of the book would necessarily be familiar with the raid itself.

The second question was a doozy. This novel would be part of continuity. How in the name of the Betrayer was I going to show something that hundreds of thousands of people had been part of, myself included, and not invalidate their experience?

I could hardly hand out definitive laurels for the victory at Black Temple to either the Alliance or the Horde. In the end, I chose to fudge it. Most of the scenes in Black Temple are shown from the point of view of people who have no real reason to know anything about the player characters they encounter. Thus I did not have to give too much detail.

I decided I needed to go back and take a look at the raids, just to remind myself of the details. So recruiting my eldest son’s Shaman and my own Rogue, I headed back to Outland and plunged into the heart of the Burning Crusade.

It was an interesting experiment in nostalgia, wandering through Magtheridon’s Lair, Black Temple and Tempest Keep with my level 100 and a personal healer. I only had to give many mobs a hard stare, and they died. The aggro distances were so low I virtually had to hit them to get noticed. It felt as if all these elite monsters were whistling to themselves and pretending not to see us. It was not like this during the Burning Crusade. Still I got to revisit a lot of fun places, and it was a lot less stressful this time around. I even took screenshots, like a demented tourist clicking away amid the ancient ruins of Outland. I imported them all into a Scrivener file for future reference.

I requested and got the soundtrack of the Burning Crusade from the good people at Blizzard, imported it onto iTunes, set it on a loop and got to work on my outline. Of which more next time.

And here are some more snaps from my trip to Irvine. That trike actually works, you know.

I am going to be on the road for the next few days so comments will be moderated and replied to even more slowly than usual. They will be read and responded to though! No pics this week either since the terrible hotel internet I am using keeps giving me a server timed out message when I try to upload them.


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