Writing the Platinum Trophy Way — Going through ALL the Stages of Writing

I finished my first short story of 2019! YAY! Here’s hoping: 1) I finish many more and 2) the time I use to write creatively doesn’t come back and bite me in terms of my schoolwork. ūüôā

One thing I noticed, however, is the sense of accomplishment that I felt when I finished my story, Starlight, Starbright. It was a mini-version of when I actually get something published and the feeling of being published is very much earning a Platinum Trophy in a video game–a sense of both accomplishment and mastery that I love to feel and is what keeps me both writing and playing games.

The Sony Playstation Blog team put together a 2018 Awards Post that really crystallized how I think of the writing process.

What is a Platinum Trophy?

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So, my goal when I play games is to “finish” them and see the credits roll. Sometimes that’s enough, and once the game is over, I’m done with it and will move on to another game. In the late 2000s, Microsoft introduced a series of points when one accomplishes certain goals in the game, you get points that accumulate and add to your “gamer” score. Sony took this idea and ran with it, creating a similar system based on “trophies.” Bronze trophies for fairly common/routine game achievements, Silver trophies for harder achievements, Gold trophies for some the hardest achievements (or for finishing a game), and Platinum trophies for earning all the trophies in the game.

Bronze Trophy = First Draft

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Finishing a first draft feels a lot like earning a Bronze trophy. It is fairly easy to accomplish, but still challenging enough at the same time that one might be lulled into a false sense of security. I don’t have to worry about continuity, or characters/characterization, or anything like that–I just need to get the draft finished (which can sometimes be a real accomplishment just by itself).

Silver Trophy = Second Draft

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This is where the real work begins because this is where (for me) the dramatization happens, the characterization, and making sure the work is internally accurate. I’m working on Starlight, Starbright and The Independent now in this area. It also (generally) isn’t as much fun as the first draft because all of the mystery/excitement has been expended getting it out onto paper. Now, its just work and (for me) this is where quite a few of my projects break down. What I’m finally realizing is that it is the character that really needs to drive this draft. Getting a character that I really enjoy working with and investing in will help me see the project through the hard times and hard work of the character.

Gold Trophy = Third Draft

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If I can get the project through the second draft, then I usually submit from there (or sometimes at the first draft stage). I sometimes add in a Gold Trophy stage–for polish and making sure that the story is consistent. I try to do this on my own, but I find that I miss a lot of simple things, even when I follow common “tricks” like reading my work aloud, or reading with a “reader’s eye” rather than “writer’s eye.” This, I think, is where a second pair of eyes might be helpful, but as I only have “one pair,” I think the Writing Center will have to suffice until I graduate and then we’ll see what happens.

Platinum Trophy = Publication

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So, this to me is the “holy grail” of writing. It is also the only step that is out of my hands. I can’t control whether or not I get published. The only thing I can do is make the story as interesting as possible and mimimize the grammatical mistakes so as to create a compelling story that isn’t bogged down by errors in grammar that hinder communication with the reader. Just like a Platinum trophy where I can’t control the list that the developers of the game create–if the list is too hard or onerous, I won’t do them because it would be a futile & frustrating waste of time (I have 16 Platinum Trophies with over 100 games). However, there are many, many gamers who have only 1 or 2 platinum trophies (or none at all). My 16 Platinum trophies puts me in rare company–as do my publications. I’m I as successful as Hakoom, the current PlayStation trophy leader, or Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, both undisputed leaders in terms of money and prestige as writers? No, but just being published is an accomplishment all by itself, and working towards publication is just as satisfying (to me) as working towards (accomplishable) Platinum Trophy.

Time + Effort = Success!


  • Current Work-in-Progress: The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story ‚Äď 2nd Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Project Star (Sci-Fi Short-Story -1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel ‚Äď Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

One Day a Week Gamer

Playstation 4 Controller and several Playstation 4 games (I’ve owned and played all of these!).¬† Image Source: Pixelkin.org (click for more information)

Word Count (What I’m Writing); Updated every 2-3 Days (mostly)

  • Project Ship of Shadows (Graphic Novel) Page Count: 12
  • Whale Song Revision (Fantasy Short Story) (2nd Draft)

Goal = 3 Pages a week.  Working on Rough Drafting a Graphic Novel Page on one day and then writing the page on an alternate day.
Actual¬†= Finished page 12 on¬†Ship of Shadows and then finished a “Rough Draft” page where I wrote out a rough draft for page 13.¬† I actually think that I did page 12 already and sent it to the artist who agreed to work on this project with me, but I think that somehow it got lost/deleted from the¬†Simplenote app somehow.¬† Anyway, I did it over again and I’m working on new material.¬† Think I might outline/rough draft a screenplay version as I go along, but haven’t yet decided if that is a good idea or not.

Currently Reading (What I’m Reading); Updated Weekly (mostly)

  • For Fun:
    Transhuman edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. F. K. Weisskopf
    Just started this anthology – it was given to me at a LibertyCon some years ago, but I’ve just now gotten around to reading it. I may not finish it/read all the stories, but so far, I’ve read the first story and liked it.
    Traveller RPG: I started this a while ago as a book that I was reading just before bedtime, but I didn’t really make much headway. ¬†I restarted it and I’ve just finished the introductory character generation section and I’m now moving on to the skills section and will be soon moving into the “lore” section. ¬†This is a revamp (rules 2.0) of an old school British RPG from the 1980s. ¬†Updated for modern times, this fairly short book still gives a great set of rules, game system, and lore that I hope will serve as inspiration for new sci-fi works in my own writing life.
  • For School:
    Ancient Rhetorics, Digital Networks: A book that combines New Media (digital rhetorics) and combines them with ideas and theories of the Ancient Rhetorics.
  • For Research/Personal Development:
    Great Aircraft of WWII by Alfred Price and Mike Spick (for Project Skye)
    Great Aircraft of WWII¬†is a book that I‚Äôve had in my collection for sometime‚ÄďI‚Äôve glanced at it periodically, but never read it cover-to-cover. ¬†Now, with¬†Project Skye, I intend to do just that.

Six Days of Gaming Down into One

I used to game on a regular basis.¬† All the time that I worked at the¬†Library and as a¬†teacher, I have taken an hour or two after work (usually after dinner or just before bed) and played a video game or two.¬† I didn’t often game for that long, but I didn’t need to as I was only using the gaming to wind down from the day.¬† For instance, as much as people denigrate¬†Knack for the¬†Playstation 4, I played it over and over during the first year of the¬†PS4‘s¬†lifetime because it was one of the few games out at the time, but I only played it for an hour or two after school.¬† However, even with just that short amount of time, I was able to play it through six (!) times total and to get the¬†Platinum Trophy for it.¬† My point is that even with a short amount of gaming time in one day, over time (six days) it actually is an impressive amount of time in order to make progress in games. Now that I’m in school, however, I don’t actually get to game except on the weekend and it really is affecting how quickly I can get through my¬†backlog.

Longer and Longer Games

I think part of my issue is that not only is my gaming time seriously curtailed, but also that games are getting longer.¬† Video game publishers do not like the “used game” market, so longer, more complex open world games, while giving value to players who want these longer games, also have the consequence of taking players longer to finish and keeps the games out of the “market,” so they have a vested interest in creating longer and longer games (i.e., game extension).¬† Now don’t get me wrong, I love single player games, I like cooperative games, and I tolerate (for the most part) multiplayer games, but long games just to claim that your game is long, doesn’t necessarily make it a¬†good game.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands

I’ve been playing this game since late February/early March and while it is a good game, it has outstayed its welcome.¬† My goal with games is to see the credits roll, but even after all this time, I still have several territories left to “liberate” that have a 5 star difficulty (the hardest difficulty in the game).¬† I’ve not looked at how many hours I’ve put into the game, but if¬†Sony does a year-end summary as they did last year, I fully expect that it will be the longest game with a 100+ hours invested (so far).

You might ask, then, why are you still playing?¬† Well, last year I put over 120 hours into¬†Mass Effect Andromeda, but I didn’t do anything with it.¬† This year, I want to write scholarship on every game that I play as I’ve pretty much decided that I’m specializing in¬†Video Game Rhetoric and New Media as one of my two specialty areas.¬† It would be an absolute tragedy to have spent all of this time playing the game, but without being able to use it for school too–remember, work smarter, not harder.¬† ¬†Ah, well, I guess I’ll just have to power through until the end.

So, maybe I’ll be able to give you a Mini-Review of the game in a month or two (or three or four or five or . . .)

Well, that’s all I have time for today.¬† Have a great day!


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