Writing BattleTech – A Huge Sigh of Relief For The Weekend

Welcome to the chaos of my reference material as I work on a BattleTech novel


Most of this post will come in the form of a disjointed rambling rant of sorts.  My wife went to Michigan for the weekend, leaving me to work on THE BattleTech novel.  The result, five chapters in two days.  Whew!  Time for a break I think.  When you have philosophical debates with yourself about firing missiles, it is getting close to Beer O’Clock.  Yes, it is a volley of missiles– but is it also a wave, a salvo, or a barrage?  Barrage sounds better for autocannons.  Then comes the entire nasty-ass debate about what color comes from what laser.   So I played a few rounds of MechWarrior Online (and lie to myself about it being research) and I don’t agree with their color choices (or sound effects) – so I broke out Call of Duty (my BattleTech Novel) and opted to go with what I put in there.  When you write the canon, you use the canon.

I have printouts of two Clan toumans, six specific BattleMechs, and a number of vehicles close at hand.  Here’s a photo of the side-desk next to me (above) – littered with its own battlefield of Tech Readouts and references.  I am glad I kept my old MechWarrior Dark Ages Writer’s Guide (that’s the big green cloth covered beast standing upright.)  I haven’t had to use it in ages, but it is nice to.  Of course I get distracted for 15 minutes reading through it.

Your mind gets racing with mistakes you make – warship vs. WarShip, for example.  I know I should use the writer’s guide, but I don’t at this stage.  I want to capture all of this stuff before I forget it. Notes are made on sticky notes for things you have to go back and fix.

Then there’s the goofy stuff you can’t find.  A warrior I found a reference to in the Dark Ages material pilots to BattleMaster BLR-4S-A.  What the hell?  I know what a 4S is – but not a 4S-A.  That A stands for “Argh!”

At one point today I had six PDF’s open at once, searching for specifics about character eye and hair color and – oddly enough scars.  It turns out, we have scarred the heck out of a lot of characters.  I am beginning to think we paid our artists based on the number of scars they drew.  I need to remember that joke for Brent – so I jot that down.  Which arm on that character was bionic again?  Then, surprise, you find contrary information.  What source do I use?  More notes for when the continuity people come back at me.  Sarna.net is a great source at times, but there are lot of Dark Ages gaps.

Being old school, the newer ‘Mechs do drive me nuts.  I have to explore that non-game mechanics of AP Gauss Rifles and MRM’s. The Dark Ages stuff adds in chainsaws and drills too. A lot of head shaking goes on.

Then comes the conversations with myself.  What would he say?  I read the line out loud and realize that on paper the line is great, but it is impossible to say without pausing for a breath of air.  Okay, that has to be changed.

I check Facebook and get into a debate with some fan, which usually ends with me shutting off Facebook for a while.

My mind drifts to the logistics of the operations…how much do I want to put the reader through.  I have read some Warhammer 40k stuff and cringe at some of the detail they sometimes dive into.  You can’t ignore the logistics, but it doesn’t make the novel any more fun.  I know if I gloss over it, the fans will whip out Strategic Operations and make my life a living hell.

On a break, I check the word count.  93k so far.  I remember the days when we are capped at 65k words.  John has warned me to target 124K.  I didn’t want to chuckle out loud when he said that – because I will pass that target. That also means I have to keep a list of things that are candidates to be cut.   More sticky notes.

This book comes with a lot of pressure tied to it.  First off, it is a major storyline book.  Hell, it is the first of its kind in a long time.  Mike Stackpole always made it look so easy.  I have to walk a tightrope between too fanboy, too political, too military, too earthshattering (literally) and too much.  You end up reminding yourself that there is a contingent of fans out there that are going to bitch and whine no matter what you do.  I love the fans, but there are times…   Ultimately I end up reminding myself that I need to write a novel that I would enjoy reading.  That seems to have worked for me a few times in the past.

I reave (deliberate use here) the list of fan names I use for characters and places in the book.  There’s a lot of them here, which is great.  I know a few will not be happy with the choices I made, but it has been a lot of fun so far.

And then the day comes to an end.  Enough BattleTech for now.  Time to respond to some FOIA stuff on my latest true crime book project.  Yes, I am writing two books at once.  I sure hope I don’t get them confused…

I knew I was in trouble at Moe’s ordering my lunch when I was asked if I wanted a burrito.  I replied, “Aff.” I would love to tell you I am joking here, but I cannot.

I’m going to back away from this now…time to chill.

7 thoughts on “Writing BattleTech – A Huge Sigh of Relief For The Weekend

  1. LeeAllen Agee

    Thanks for the update. Cant wait to get my hands on it! Black Watch! I was just reading up on the Highlanders & mech manufacturing.

  2. Brian Chiasson

    Having learned the lesson about how “wait and see” pays off more often than not and having read and then reread your current word count in disbelief, I’m thinking people will grow tired of fruitlessly trying to get my attention for anything once the book is in my grubby mits.

  3. Ben

    It sounds like you could release a second novel as a sticky note collection. Really excited to see the new stuff coming out after devouring the novellas from ComicCon! MWO is great for shooting things but I’d forgotten how good it is to really get into the fiction and put yourself in a story like that.
    You mentioned the Mechwarrior Online sounds being puny and a community member has a fix for it that a lot of the streamers (and players) use. If you go to Twitch and search for “Haven Kendrick” you’ll find his channel. Scroll down to and click on the Mad Dog and read beneath for install instructions. Everything from small lasers to gauss to autocannons got a big meaty sounding upgrade and each laser type is very distinct and crunchy. Some of the heavy lasers almost have an electric guitar note. Pulse lasers are probably my favorite. There’s a mod for the command wheel voices as well (Enemy spotted, Help, Thanks, Sorry, Etc)
    Good luck with the writing!

  4. Andreas Rudolph

    A question about a character in the Archer Christifori serie: Luther Fisk (son of the Count of Odessa). He was gravely wounded in the serie and I wonder due the connections of his father to WoB if he might have been offered the chance to be a Manei Domini. He lost almost all in the Civil War and could have been desparate for be a devout follower of WoB if they offer him help/support. And as Manei Domini he could have fight Christifori in the Jihad (so far nothing know about him in the Jihad).

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