Under Angels site unearthed

For about four and a half years, I’ve been designing a story called Under Angels. A fantasy psychological horror historical mystery thriller thing. It’s been said to have elements of Fight Club, Jacob’s Ladder, Myst, The Da Vinci Code, and perhaps even Operation: Mindcrime. It originally came out of my mind as a screenplay in 2006, and I shelved it for a couple years.

Felt drawn to the story again in the summer of 2008, and concluded that the story needed to be banged out as a novel in order to be fully realized. I outlined the novel that summer, and ended up with 26 chapters. In 2009, on a new year’s resolution, I took that outline and blogged the story in real time, rewriting one chapter every two weeks for a year, beginning on January 1, ending December 31. No breaks. It was a grand experience. I got through it.

After taking a few needed months off this past winter, I revisited the “blovel” to see what I’d done.

The story has two timelines (WWII and tonight), taking the reader back and forth between them with each chapter, with the two timelines colliding at the end. Over the course of the 2009 blovel exercise, the WWII timeline’s chapters were blogged in a non-chronological order. That’s how they chose to come out of my mind at the time.

With the blovel in front of me this summer, I began editing the whole piece. To begin, I took that nonlinear timeline and reassembled its chapters into a linear read, putting all their events in chronological order. I also consolidated the novel’s first chapter with its second, its third chapter with its fourth, and wrote four brand-new middle chapters (12, 13, 15, 16) to flesh out a bit more detail and provide more information about the villain and the stakes. The new chapters now serve as reinforcing beams, holding the story up. The manuscript is now 28 chapters, with an Epilogue. About 40,000 words.

Appropriately enough, I finished preparing Under Angels the novel on Halloween. I then spent the first couple weeks of November adapting it for screen, and have just completed the first draft of Under Angels the screenplay. A tight 110 pages. Brings me full-circle. Doing all this writing in a compressed amount of time (rather than over the course of a year) has given the story a whole new focus.

Under Angels is in fact a ghost story, and takes place in Los Angeles. Based on fact mixed with urban legend, it’s about a man and his dog who find a secret labyrinth of tunnels beneath the city. It’s got it all: WWII history, UFOs, dogs, cryptography and the Enigma machine, wordplay, puzzles, Nazi symbolism, witchcraft, suicide, love, tragedy, art, and a certain dark agent who holds an egotistical grudge against a group of people who interfered with his plans. I think you’ll like it.

A quick word about Under Angels the blovel. Some people as recently as today have asked where it went, as they’d like to read it. It’s been taken offline for a few reasons:

First, the blovel was never intended to be the end result of Under Angels anyway. Its true purpose was to get the material in front of me so that I could take the story to the next level. Committing publicly to a new year’s resolution and a self-imposed deadline was just a way to get the story told while minimizing the kind of torture one faces by keeping a story to himself. I didn’t think I had the patience to work on a piece for so long in private; I needed to take it out for fresh air along the way. Otherwise I’d just get buried by it and give up.

Second, the story has changed a bit. It’s found itself. With the 2009 blovel in front of me in its entirety, I’ve finally been able to see things I couldn’t see while I was actually writing it. This has resulted in some additions, some changes, and some cutting. While the story’s soul remains the same, I’ve fleshed out some details and themes, which has almost been more a process of discovery than invention. The story’s heart now beats louder than it did in 2009. It grooves harder. That’s always a good thing.

Third, it’s just common sense to take the material offline while seeking publication.

So that’s the recap. Thanks to all who were interested enough to take a peek or two at Under Angels the blovel in 2009. Extra-special thanks to those who hung in there for the whole thing. And extra-extra-special thanks to those who are now in it for the next phase. The story’s more alive than ever. It’s just moving on.

Cheers for now, and Greamer says hi,

=j

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