I was reading an article about how an early draft of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire outline was leaked. It made me think about the different changes Soul Crystals went through before the published book actually came out. Now, most of the changes that happened occurred really early on. Some even started before even what I would label as the first “rough draft. ” These won’t be as salacious as all the backstabbing and love triangles in Martin’s leaked draft.
The majority of these changes occurred before I had even sent a finalized draft off to publishers.
Alice’s name predated the series.
My first (amateurish) attempt at writing a fantasy series happened when I was about 16 (about 10 years before Soul Crystals came out). There were some similarities with Soul Crystals in that it took place in the modern day and involved superhumans. Only it was basically a modern-day Avatar: The Last Airbender wherein anyone in the world could manifest elemental powers if they tried hard enough. The main character of which was a teenager named Matt Arawitz. Matt was an introverted teenager who just about everyone in the would thought was really cool despite his shyness.
Yeah, Matt Arawitz was basically wish fulfillment for me. He was a cool kid who happened to date the most popular girl in his school. Her name was Alice. As my writing matured, I stopped inserting myself into stories and, instead, came up with original characters (with each of them just having a little piece of me). Though the name “Alice” has always been inspired by Alice in Wonderland. She’s the one to lead the protagonist deeper down the rabbit hole. An Alice existed before Soul Crystals but she was not the Alice.
The Amuli were originally supposed to inhabit a hidden world.
Hidden/secret world fantasy has been an enormously successful subgenre over the years. There’s Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Spiderwick Chronicles, The Magicians, and the list goes on. The concept is pretty simple. A more fantastic world either exists adjacent to or secretly within the normal one.
For most of my prewriting phase, Soul Crystals had a similar world-scape to Percy Jackson or Harry Potter. The Amuli existed and A.R.C. and A.I.M. still had their shadow war. It was just that no regular people knew that they existed. I kind of soured on the idea when I was looking for something that made Soul Crystals feel more original. Also, unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, Soul Crystals doesn’t really have a plot device to hide all that loud warfare. Anima power really doesn’t work like magic.
I thought back to my days of watching 1990’s and 2000’s action cartoons to the old X-Men animated series. I’ve never been a big comic book reader, but I’ve always loved cartoons. In X-Men, superpowers are out in the open as sort of a controversial political topic. I decided to go on that route. The scene with the A.R.C. assembly in Paul’s school is suppose to be that introduction into that type of surreal world.
I can say that, after looking over my old notes, I can only remember one character who was completely cut from Soul Crystals. That was Lance, Schwert Academy’s star quarterback. In the original opening scene of A.R.C. of the Amuli, Paul was saved from Jack’s bullying by someone Jack respects, his football team captain Lance. Robby only shows up at the end.
During a read through at my local writers’ group, one of the members got confused at the character introductions, so I simplified them. Robby would rescue Paul and it would be an earlier introduction to the character and his humor.
There was a tragic school invasion.
Like Lance, this was another late change. Instead of having Hunters attack Luper’s base in the woods, I originally wrote that they attacked Paul’s school In that draft, A.R.C. was not fast enough in erasing Paul’s identity from public records which led to Hunters holding his school hostage. Paul went out on his own, despite being warning, with his teammates only coming in to rescue him.
A battle ensued where Jack (not knowing that Paul has powers now) dies protecting Paul from of bullets. That was his original redemption scene rather than having him pop up in The Mask of Tragedy helping Carson Colter.
Due to events that were taking place around the time I was writing this, I decided this scene would have been in incredibly poor taste.
Paul and Alice’s escape into the woods went differently.
This was a small change to the chapter were a newly-awakened Paul and an injured Alice escape their A.I.M. pursuers. After the short battle in downtown Pallisville, one of my drafts had the police showing up much faster and catch Paul and Alice as they attempt to flee. Alice would have knocked out the officer without really injuring him.
I cut this sequence because it was pretty inconsequential. The slow police response could have easily been explained by the fact that Pallisville is a small town with a small police department. Also, Alice was injured at this point while Paul was exhausted. Another obstacle would have been hard to overcome logically.
Soul Crystals was not the original title.
My first attempt at naming book one in this series was… Crystals: The Fire Inside. That is the series was just called Crystals and the title was The Fire Inside. I liked the mystique of giving the series a generalized name in order to keep the reader guessing. My publisher wanted a more specific name to actually let the potential readers know a little about what the book was actually about. This was actually the most debated thing about the series. It took several weeks going back and forth to settle on the final title.
If you’re curious, some discarded titles were Anima Crystals: Inner Fire and Amulus Crystals: Inner Fire. Some old drafts are still saved on my computer under those titles. Funnily enough, the titles of the next two books in the series, The Mask of Tragedy and Atlantis Risen, barely changed. The Mask of Tragedy didn’t change at all. Atlantis Risen also went by Atlantis Rising and The Rise of Atlantis.
Those are the major changes that I can think of at this moment in time. If I think or find more in my old drafts, I will post them. This whole thing is meant to just give a little background on the prepublication history of Soul Crystals. As always, thanks for reading!