Writing Notes for Tales of the Seven Dogs Novella

I’m happy to report that Flames Rising featured a preview of Tales of the Seven Dogs Society, my soon-to-be-released novella that I’ll be selling in less than two weeks at GenCon: Indy.

In 1969, Jericho Usher disappeared without a trace, never explaining the otherworldly nature of the annex. Jericho Usher spent his lifetime investigating anomalous phenomena, and it was his intention that others take up his work once he was gone. To facilitate this, Jericho left behind very detailed instructions for assembling a society of investigators. Terrance honored his friend’s intent, overseeing the creation of the Seven Dogs Society, recruiting those who fit the exacting instructions left behind by Jericho Usher.

You may remember that I had written a series of posts about writing game fiction; this post focuses on a behind-the-scenes look at my novella.

Design Notes

One of the advantages to writing fiction for the Aletheia setting, is that I had written for the game. Since I was already familiar with the role of the characters, it was a lot easier to imagine what kind of a story I was going to write. Instead of writing an action/adventure tale, I chose to write a story that alluded to the game’s metaplot.

If you enjoy playing RPG-style games, whether they are part of an MMO, video game or tabletop RPG, you probably latch onto those points in the story that change and shift what you know about your character. This novella was written in much the same way, but in a very low-key, almost subtle fashion because I didn’t want to “ruin” the entire metaplot for anyone who was interested in playing Aletheia. For me, it’s not a lot of fun if I play through an RPG when I know what’s going to happen.

In addition to including metaplot, I made a conscious decision to pick a “character power” that may not be the most popular. Characters, in the game, have psychic powers that help them through their investigative activities. I chose to write about “Presque Vu,” which is the ability to see the “Grand Design.” You know why things have to happen the way they do–and even if you don’t right now, you soon will. Presque Vu is not a straightforward power, however, because there is a lot open to interpretation. Depending upon your religious or philosophical point-of-view, you may believe that the Grand Design is actually the work of a petulant god or goddess, a series of mathematical interpretations, or part of God’s Will.

That’s where the idea for the twin brothers came in. Ralph and Edgar have similar-yet-opposing views that influence their ability. Ralph was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Edgar was named after Edgar Allen Poe. Why? Well, both authors experienced personal tragedies, but both emerged from their experiences differently–one developed the concept of the “universal all” and the other…well…quote the Raven, “Nevermore.”

The novella is split between their two point-of-views, because I couldn’t realistically have one of the brothers tell the entire story and influence the metaplot at the same time. In order for a certain event to happen, I needed the readers to see both sides of the twins.

Is this your typical gaming fiction? Yes and no. I created characters, wrote with the metaplot in mind, and utilized elements within the game’s setting to tell a story. In this tale, the setting and the metaplot drove the story and the individual weirdness or investigations were designed to complement what was really going on. This isn’t a smash-and-grab type of a story, nor it is an investigative-find-the-villain plot. Simply, I wrote this story with Aletheia in mind, because the metaplot is what separates this game from other supernatural/scifi RPGs. Always with the reader (and gamer) in mind, I wholeheartedly admit I didn’t write in “everything” about the metaplot. I’d need a whole novel to be able to do that.

The other reason I had for writing the novella this way, was based on what the other writers were doing. Matt’s tale will be an introduction to the world, a slice of what the game can be. Jim’s story will take you a little deeper, so by the time you get to mine–you may find yourself even more curious about the game of Aletheia.

One Response to Writing Notes for Tales of the Seven Dogs Novella
  1. [...] For more information on Tales of the Seven Dogs Society be sure to check out the sneak preview from Jim ... flamesrising.com/tales-of-the-seven-dogs-society-sale

Monica Valentinelli is an author, artist, and narrative designer who writes about magic, mystery, and mayhem. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.

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