Saturday, June 6, 2015

Guest Post: A Supernatural Serial is Born









In Darkness We Must Abide
A  Supernatural Serial is Born

At the end of 2012, I stumbled across an old manuscript lurking in the badlands of my hard drive. I was shocked to unearth the story, having forgotten I had it converted to Word years ago from my old word processing format. For years I had considered it trunked and lost somewhere in the storage in the garage.  Opening the file, I rediscovered a story I had sank most of my heart and soul into a very long time ago when I was just starting to write horror novels.
In Darkness We Must Abide was my first full-length original work. I spent hours at my old typewriter creating the first draft of the manuscript. Later, I bought a word processor and retyped the entire manuscript, saving it onto floppy discs.  Yes, this was a long time ago!
As I read over my old work, I realized several things. One, I still absolutely loved the two primary leads, Armando and Vanora; and two, the story was solid, but needed some revision. I was very young when I wrote the story, inexperienced in life, love, and long lasting relationships, and this clearly showed. Also, I was under immense pressure from people in my life to write something “nice and normal,” so I struggled quite a bit with certain themes in the story. Reading over the manuscript, I saw exactly the changes I needed to implement to make it a stronger, vibrant read. I set it aside, considering reworking it into a trilogy.
Later, I began toying with the idea of doing a serial. My most popular trilogy, As The World Dies, was originally written as an online serial, and I’d missed the immediate feedback that came with the release of each new part. I had an idea for a whole new fresh work, but was intimidating by having to fit it into my already overloaded writing schedule. Then I saw an article about taking an old manuscript and converting it into a serial.  Instantaneously, I knew that In Darkness We Must Abide was the perfect story to be converted into a serial. It was already divided into three distinct parts and it was huge! In fact, one of the reasons I couldn’t sell the book in its old form was that it was one massive book that far exceeded the word count limits of most publishers.
I instantly divided the first third of the story into the five episodes that make up season one. Extremely nervous, I started the revision process with the intention of each part reading like a television show in the reader’s mind. I was shocked at how easily the story fell into an episodic format, but was thrilled at the same time. Also, the voices of the characters readily reawakened in my mind, much to my relief.
In my youth, I had made several big mistakes. When a test reader had an adverse reaction to my lead character being an albino, I altered her appearance. I even changed her name to something I thought sounded fancier. When I started revising, the first thing I did was give Vanora her name back and restore her albinism. I had robbed my lead character of an important part of not only her physical appearance, but her life experience as an albino. I also embraced all the themes I had skirted around in the earlier drafts, out of fear of criticism.
Side note: Humorously, I spent a lot of time trying to avoid overt sexual themes out of fear of offending my mother. This is the same woman who would later call me up to tell me how much she loved the sex scenes in Pretty When She Dies because they were “hot.”
When I finally sent the first episode off to my beta readers, I was terrified. How would they react to a gothic horror novel I had conceived so long ago? When the rave reviews started flowing in, I was so relieved. My story had officially risen from the grave.
As a writer, it was a challenge to give the readers something they can enjoy in small increments, but also instills in them the desire to read the next episode. I did significant rewriting of the original work and the third season is completely new. The immediate feedback was also a great way for me to gage what was working, and what’s not. Because of the mad love for Armando, I expanded his role significantly in the first season.
Now that it’s finished, I can say I enjoyed my serial experience. It was definitely worthwhile digging up In Darkness We Must Abide and sharing it with my readership.



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