The Philosopher’s Game is Act 2 of the Max Sinclair trilogy which began with Abyss of Chaos. As such, the tone gets dark. Like, really dark. And I have to say, it’s been a fun bit of writing. One might think that writing about dark subject matter might infect other areas of one’s life–and it’s entirely possible that it’ll go that way for me eventually, as I get deeper into the story. But so far, my experience writing it has been more dominated by satisfaction than it has been sharing the feelings of those characters who inhabit the story; in writing book 2, I’m enjoying growing as an author.
As of today, I’ve completed the blueprint in outline format, and 34K words of the actual first draft. Roughly one-third of the story. How do I know it’s one-third? Because I carve my books up into three acts (even though I don’t label them that way in the book) and that’s the place I’m at in writing TPG. (Interestingly, if I multiply 34 x 3 acts, I get 102k words–exactly the same number of words that the first draft of Abyss of Chaos had, though the final word count there was closer to 90k.)
One thing readers may look forward to in The Philosopher’s Game, is spending more time in the company of the big baddie: Ad-Dajjal, or, “the Deceiver.” I say “look forward to” because, in the real world, we’d want nothing of the sort–but in fiction, who wouldn’t want to know more about a being who had the stones to think it could go toe-to-toe with God? Exactly who is ad-Dajjal? How long has he been on earth? And what kind of trouble could he get into in that length of time? How would ad-Dajjal fight God? What would ad-Dajjal’s motivations be? These are juicy, speculative questions for an author, and ones I had to stay clear of in the last book. In Abyss, you get to see ad-Dajjal in a few scenes only. Also, with Abyss of Chaos, I wanted to gradually lower the reader into the deep end of the pool. I wanted the reader to feel solidly grounded in reality before pulling the rug out, so, by the end, with all these fantastical things are happening, the reader has made the journey there with the heroes.
But in book two, readers already know that reality isn’t what it appears to be, so the point of departure for The Philosopher’s Game is much further up the road. And that presents different opportunities and challenges. For instance, I’m trying to write it in such a way so the reader can jump in without having read Abyss–so that requires some summarizing, and is a big challenge. On the other hand, the book gets to be supernatural without preamble. Which is a bit like getting dessert as the first course–a big opportunity.
I’m looking forward to sharing excerpts soon!