There are a lot of last days of the month falling on a Tuesday or Thursday this year, or at least it seems that way, and while I haven’t use all of them to talk about Blood Magic (which as you know releases a new episode on the last day of every month), I did want to do so this time, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s been awhile since I posted about the series, and for another, this is the halfway point of the first season. Six episodes are now live, with six more to go to round out the first full season. So it seems worthwhile, at this point, to pause for a moment and take stock of where we’re at in the series, both within the Blood Magic world, and in our own.
Going into the series, I knew that there were going to be some challenges in the writing process, both logistical and technical. Logistically, my schedule can be quite chaotic, my “real” work can get very busy, and I have other obligations beyond the site to which I have to attend occasionally, so finding the time to consistently sit down and write these episodes can be difficult. This isn’t helped by my fondness for jumping around to work on different stories set in different worlds. Part of the reason I wanted to do Blood Magic was so that I could force myself to establish something of a writing routine, and it has helped me write somewhat more consistently. However, because of the time requirements compared with the time available, I know that many of the episodes are not as strong as they could be – most would benefit from some thorough and heavy revisions, and some of them barely even get a cursory proofread before I have to make them live on the site. Although I hope that my readers are forgiving of the smaller errors, I can only imagine how much stronger the whole series might be if I had more time to put each episode through a really thorough revision process.
Maybe the lackluster performance of the series is also increasing how critical I am of the writing. Despite a slow, but steady increase in traffic to the site as a whole over the past few months, the Blood Magic stories themselves receive very few, if any, visitors, even immediately after they go live. I’ve done my best to make the episodes obvious and easy to get to, with links and updates right on the home page, as well as the original menu links, but I know I could be doing more to drive readers to the stories. After all, you’re reading the blog posts, so perhaps you’d read the Blood Magic episodes, too, if I delivered them to your inbox. Unfortunately, I don’t think WordPress gives me the ability to send out page update alerts the way that blog post alerts are sent, and I do try not to inundate you with messages. Reading shouldn’t be a high-pressure kind of pass-time.
From the writing side, I already mentioned that I regret not having the time to do as thorough of revisions as these stories could really use. However, part of the reason that the stories could benefit so much from revision is because they’re doing exactly what I set out to make them do – they’re forcing me to stretch my writing in new and different ways. None of my viewpoint characters are really in a position to drive the action, and that’s very different from how most of my stories are written. For the most part, Kiluron and Doil can only react to the events happening around them – they can’t really create events, at least not right now.
The episodic nature of the story structure has also been a challenge, and has helped me understand why most of the strong, episodic-style shows have had large, ensemble casts with which to work, as well as very large, established, intricate worlds. As a reader/viewer, I appreciate the episodic structure. It makes each episode a lower investment, lowers the barriers to entry for the episode, and makes it an all-around easier, less stressful viewing/reading experience. As an author, I’m finding that it drives me a little crazy. While in principle I like the idea of having the freedom to essentially start off each new episode with a blank slate, the events of the previous episode being largely irrelevant and forgotten in the next, in practice I find that I spend a great deal of time fighting with my writing instincts, all of which are trying to get me to use the episodes like chapters and the seasons like books, which is definitely not the goal here. Fortunately, the first two episodes did a good job of establishing that there would be no major, intertwined plot that carried through the whole season, so I am forced by the structure I’ve created to press with the episodic format.
One thing that I am enjoying, though, is the opportunity to drop in minor details, references, and allusions that I recognize, and the astute reader who has followed along might recognize, but that you can miss completely without missing out on anything about the story. These are the details that help flesh out the world, or sometimes that will link all the episodes together in some minor way that will make the climax of the season that much more interesting for those who notice them. Since this isn’t the end of the season, I can’t go into what those details are just yet, but if you’re following along, know that there are tidbits that are going to come back and be relevant in the last two episodes of the season 1. I keep having to resist the urge to jump ahead and write those episodes, because they’re going to be exciting to write.
At the moment, I’m not sure if I’ll continue into the second season. Part of writing is to have people read what you write, so the lack of readership is unfortunate. I could take that to mean that people just aren’t interested in this kind of writing, and that I should instead focus my time on my novels and other, larger works in the more traditional style. On the other hand, I do still think that I’m deriving benefits from the process of developing and writing these Blood Magic episodes, so perhaps it would still be worthwhile to continue writing them. And who knows? Maybe eventually people will start reading them.