Rewriting for Layout

By | August 15, 2016

Forthright Open Roleplay is currently in layout with Ray, and he’s doing a spectacular job of it. He’s using the opportunity of laying out the core rulebook to set up templates for other products we plan to release such as Gamescapes and adventure compendiums. And one thing we’ve really learned about what I’ve written so far is: it’s really not comfortable on a digest-sized page.

I wrote the core rulebook in Microsoft Word, and for me a big part of writing is “read feel.” I write until what I have looks and feels good on the page (as well as being sensible, etc.). Well, I never changed the default size in Word down from a full 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I figured we would just halve the size of the paper (for an expected print size of 5.5 x 8.5) and, instead of just shrinking the words on the page, as the recent Pathfinder Bestiary digest print run did, we would just have fewer words on a page.

But what we’ve found instead is that the average paragraph seems to take up about a quarter of a page. Whoa!

That really kills the read feel, turning what would otherwise seem like good text into a text wall.  It’s quite off-putting, actually.  I wrote the damn thing and wouldn’t want to read it.

Now, we could just decide not to go with the digest size for the book and instead scale it up to be a traditional 8.5 x 11 roleplaying book. We really want it to be small, though – that makes it easier to carry and also easier to read on a mobile device.

Instead, I’m going to try and trim the text even further, removing redundancies and remotely purplish prose so that we can deliver a tighter, better book. Will it work out? No idea. The book is currently ~60,000 words, and I’m looking to cut some of the bigger paragraphs in half. That could see the size of the book shrink down to ~45,000 words. Which is great! But will it be enough to communicate all the ideas floating around Forthright?

For the folks who’ve downloaded the Early Access, you’ll start to see some of these changes in the next update. We’re still on track for publishing before the end of year, but it might be closer to the end of Q4 than the beginning.

Thanks for reading! As always, we look forward to your comments 🙂