I still have the PowerPoint I made for a TV series called Ares. It was an assignment for my college senior seminar class. While it never got picked up, I ultimately folded it’s core ideas into a novel I started writing the following year. That abandoned novel was my first attempt at what is now known as Dream Crasher. The assignment was to pitch a TV series to my class. Of the twenty students, I think I was one of two that didn’t pitch a reality series. My basic pitch was this: a group of astronauts who return to Earth from a mission to Mars, months after having lost contact, only to find it in s state of nuclear winter. I envisioned the trailer using A Perfect Circle’s “Vanishing” for peak dramatic effect.
For every novel we read, there are countless others sitting in drawers and on hard drives that will never see the light of day. But the ideas in them are often reborn and (hopefully) better executed. Then there are also things that never change, like my inability to give things compelling titles. This week we released Chapter 6 of Dream Crasher, and it’s within those pages where the ideas from my Aries TV pitch finally come to light. I won’t spoil too much of the plot here, but there is a spaceship. It crashes in the beast lands, and the kids at the fort make a decision to go investigate in spite of the risk. If you want to know what they find when they get to the crash site, you’ll have to read the comic for that.
I finished the handwritten first draft of Chapter 6 back in 2016. It was almost 3 years later by the time I got to reviewing and writing the second draft. Conventions, Kickstarters, traveling, and other writing projects all got in the way. But when I did pick it back up, I realized it was a really plot-heavy chapter. I had a lot of things that needed to happen, characters that needed to be introduced, and other characters that needed to be moved into place. Anyone who watched the final season of Game of Thrones should be familiar with what happens when plotting runs unchecked. I had very real fears that I was falling into the same kind of trap. In the pantsing vs plotting writing paradigm, I am a chaotic plotter. I’m honestly not sure I could write any other way.
Thankfully, chaotic plotting came in handy for resolving this problem. No plot point is so entrenched that it can’t be replanted in ways that make more sense for its characters. I pulled back to see what themes were already present; themes that I could massage and bring into the foreground. The key was in understanding where Amalie needed to grow as a character. Left shaken from the events of the previous chapter, Amalie starts out Chapter 6 running scared. She doesn’t know what’s going on and she doesn’t know who she can trust. In spite of her tough exterior, she is ruled by fear. In recognizing this, I found the arc I was looking for. Even though there was plenty of action, and several characters that could have served as antagonists, Amalie’s core conflict was an internal one. As a result, we changed the chapter’s title changed from Lights in the Sky to The Beast Within.
The Beast Within takes us to the halfway point in the Dream Crasher story. That means we have 6 more chapters. Since we are stuck in quarantine and every convention is canceled for the foreseeable future, I am making the best of the time I have. By next week, I will have started on the second draft of Chapter 7: The Earth Died Screaming. I’ve made no secret that this is the chapter I have been most excited to get to and share with the world. I can say with confidence that Reed will have a script in hand by the end of May. That means we should have a finished comic by late summer.