“TUNING” A STORY (and (sort of) killing your darling).

I’d wanted very much to release our story, “The Last Italian Tune-Up“, as a series of serial shorts.

After all, it had seemed perfect for the format: Cliffhanger endings, action-packed escape sequences, run-for-your-life car chases, a broken relationship between two skilled but emotionally broken people suddenly broken much further apart by a horrible global phenomenon.

We would model it after the many TV action-dramas that are so popular today. Make every “episode” of “…Tune-Up” leave the reader dying for more. Yeah, that would work! That would work awesome!

Then along came the Netflix show “Stranger Things“. And while I’m sure opinions on that series amongst the TV-viewing population vary, I thought it was a damned masterpiece. How it unfolded, one funny/terrible/sad/wistful/scary/disturbing/all-around-entertaining bit at a time. And I thought: “Tune-Up could do that. Tune-Up should do that.”

But “…Tune-Up” hadn’t really gotten a chance yet to sell in any great numbers. Not because we didn’t think it was any good; it got very good, honest reviews from those who read it, and they did indeed want to see more than the three first episodes we’d done. But it was still very much a product of the “early” Ann-William. It felt, especially compared to “Stranger Things”… flat. Great idea, we thought, but just not as well-executed as it could be.

And then there was the work involved in not just writing, but then plugging, each new installment, all in a reasonably tight timeline that would serve the whole, “leave ’em wanting more” idea. We decided it was impossible. Ann especially wanted to kill that particular darling, in no uncertain terms told me it should be novelized instead.

We’ll work on that, she said, while we continue to plug our other existing novel as well as we can, and try to build a following however we can. An idea that, of course (because yes, Ann is always right) has seemed to work. We are going to do live readings, we’ve got more cool imagery planned, we have our other novel in a good shop where it will hopefully sell once spring brings more foot traffic through. We have great business cards now. All kinds of good things going on…

But dammit, I’d so wanted to do it the other way. Be like “Stranger Things” and build this great, running serial. Leave ’em wanting more, every time… make ’em want to binge read the whole thing once it was done, the way we’d binge-watched both seasons of “Stranger Things”.

Until I realized something: we’d binge-watched all of “Stranger Things”. Instead of watching it like the episodic story that it was, we’d watched it almost continuous, like a novel. Which hadn’t hurt the story at all, at least not for me. I’d still thought it was a masterpiece; maybe even more-so, because of the extra punch I’d felt from seeing it all without the weeks in between.

So maybe the episodic format, while good for a running TV series, wasn’t the end all-do all way to go with “…Tune-Up”? Besides, I recalled, I’d been toying with the idea of another story line in “…Tune-Up”, one that started not with a man running for his live in a Chevelle with his kids, or a woman maybe about to run to her death on a rural NY state road, but of a B1 bomber crew, making a supersonic run for their lives… Until perhaps one of the crew members eventually falls in to the life of the woman- or the man… who knew? But it was worth exploring in any case. And now that there would be time, since the serial format idea was out…

I began to think again: Yeah, that would work! It would involve re-writing a story that I already liked a lot, had been working on for a long time already, killing a darling… but, yeah… that would work. That would work awesome! Awesome-er!

So that’s what we’ve done. “…Tune-Up” is off the market for now. Although the serials can still be read, and now for free, on our site. You just have to see them as a sort of rough draft now.

Or more accurately, as pictures of the recently deceased. The darlings we had to kill, albeit for a good cause.

 

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