Behind the Scenes Don't Date the Haunted

Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Date the Haunted,” Chapter 1

Ready for a load of secrets? How about my very first rough drawing of The World of Novel?

Can I tell you a secret? Okay, it’s not a super secret because a few people know, but definitely not more than ten. That’s right, I’m about to reveal the secrets behind “Don’t Date the Haunted,” chapter ONE!

Chapter one was originally everything that happened in chapters one AND two. Well, okay, not everything, because I added a LOT to the updated Chapter two (I’ll tell you about it next week).
Also, the first time I drafted “Don’t Date the Haunted,” it was a total of eleven chapters. Yep. Not twenty as they are now. (They were super long chapters.)

It may not be surprising that Oz’s Haunting Survival Book was one of the first parts I wrote. However, I didn’t write it as chapter headings as they are now. Originally, I researched a whole bunch of thoughts/notes/suggestions about what not to do in a horror story to world-build the land of Horror. Then it became research for Pansy’s character.
Remember how I said the first draft only had eleven chapters? That meant I started out with only eleven chapter headings. So when I split them into twenty, I had to rediscover and reorganize all of Oz’s quotes.

Another one of my very first scenes written (also with the fewest changes over the years) was Pansy’s phone calls between Haunt-free Housing and Regent Retail. That was a big part of discovering how Horror differed from Romance and the expectations of the average citizen.

One of the biggest changes of this chapter is actually the fact that Pansy doesn’t get exactly what she wanted in a new home. I originally had Pansy move into a rambler house (not a 3-story dormitory building). It was also a Sorority with ten residents. Yep, two roommates were cut, and Pansy was a Psi Sister. As much as I loved the juxtaposition of Pansy in a sorority, I didn’t have personal experiences to make it work.

But my mom lived in one. My mom doesn’t sit down long enough to read a full book these days, but she did alpha read my first three chapters. Then she commented, “This is nothing like my sorority experience.” Oops.
So, we had a nice long chat about sorority life, and I realized that wasn’t what I had in mind for Pansy. The next draft turned the Psi house into a former sorority that lost its funding, but it was still recently remodeled, in charge of the masquerade, and a rambler house in the middle of a university city. It wasn’t believable.
Thus the Greek Dorms were born.
I felt more comfortable writing about dorms since I worked most of my university time at grocery stores that specifically catered to various dormitories. These dorms all had variable layouts, so even though it’s less common, yes, Pansy’s dorm has a kitchen.

Other than that, most of the edits and changes to chapter one were for the benefit of literary agents and editors. I struggled with my first line after taking out the perfect first line from the prologue. Then there was the trouble of explaining Hauntings (what they were, how they worked, and why Pansy focused her life around them) without dumping information like a garbage truck. Not to mention I had to give the set up for the whole world of Novel and how it worked without providing a map.
What’s that? You want a map? Here:

This was my first Paint-tools imagining of the world of Novel.
A more official one will appear in Book 2.

So, even though chapter one changed the least scene by scene, it’s definitely the one I’ve changed the most line by line. I mean, check out this terrible prose:

Sean’s been dead longer than we were engaged.  That fact was true after the first sluggish month, but five months later, it still haunted my thoughts.

Apparently our engagement was long enough for him to trust me with everything he had.  I looked over at my shot-gun seat.  Sitting in Sean’s spot was a fat manila envelope.  There wasn’t much in it compared to the amount that now sat in my bank account.

Very first terrible draft of “Don’t Date the Haunted.”

Wait a second . . . Pansy had a car?!
How many of you are only now noticing that Pansy doesn’t have a car? Yep, she always used public transportation, because, in Horror, personal vehicles are helpful, but always break whenever you need them most. Plus, cars are expensive.

Join me next week for Behind the Scenes of chapter two!

3 replies on “Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Date the Haunted,” Chapter 1”

Thanks! I have another map that’s more official, but it’s not licensed for commercial use, so I need to make another one.


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