Faith's reaction to reading Reality Tunnels.

2024 update: I am canceling the release of "Reality Tunnels," the novella sequel to "Thousand Dollar Soul" and "God's Assassin." (Play Thousand Dollar Soul on Kongregate or Newgrounds. Play Godís Assassin on Kongregate or Newgrounds.) If you want to see how far I got with Reality Tunnels, the Google Doc is still available.

I had fun coming up with the story, and it was neat to tie up a conclusion to both of my interactive fiction Flash games. But honestly, the end result wasn't amazing, and there were large structural issues that seemed beyond fixing.

(spoilers ahead) I hate Taryn's character and tried numerous times to figure out a way to edit her out of the story, but the ripple effects changed too many other events. I dislike Clint's character too, for that matter, and wish I could have found a way to edit him out as well. It was a mistake making Todd and Miranda husband and wife; they should have been roommates or some other form of casual acquaintance.

Angela's character is flat and uninteresting, and Todd's character only exists to move the plot forward. Faith is the only interesting character in the story, so why did I decide to theme the story around telling 4 unique perspectives if only 1 of them is worthwhile?

I tried to figure out a way to tell the story solely through Faith's perspective, but the problem there is that the ending completely falls apart, and as it stands, the ending is by far the best part of the story.

I made so many mistakes with Reality Tunnels -- making the story unnecessarily convoluted, making it excessively dark while also being kind of soulless, and having the whole sequence of events driven forward by a cast of cardboard characters completely lacking any interesting personality (outside of Faith, at least).

If you liked my interactive fiction games, you might still enjoy Reality Tunnels. But please temper your expectations, and know that I don't consider what's there to be a "final" draft -- it's just the best draft I was able to create, which ultimately fell short of being worth publishing.

The failure of Reality Tunnels sent me into a bit of a crisis, since I have been writing fiction since around 1995 (when I was 12), and it seemed like it would be my grand finale, and the last piece of fiction I put out into the world ("God's Assassin" was already a sort of amalgamation of every other story I wanted to tell up to that point).

In a moment of reflection, I asked myself, "What would my writing look like if I did a complete 180?" Like what if I actually tried to have -- imagine this -- likeable characters? What if instead of being hyper-violent, it was totally G-rated? And what if instead of just having some soulless sequence of events that I find interesting, there was real depth and meaning to the themes of what happens?

In a flash of inspiration, a nearly complete novella shot itself into my brain. It was one that I had no idea of, and no intention of writing just one minute before. But now here it was, from start to finish, a complete story with a complete cast of characters in my mind.

I spent the next several months frantically writing it down, then I spent the year after that editing and editing and editing and editing. The result was my debut novella, titled "Annica: Starseed Ambassador."

The book is free to read in all digital formats, and the paperback is sold at cost. It is by far my favorite thing I have ever written, and 100 times better than anywhere I could get with Reality Tunnels.

And beyond that, it scratches the same itch that I wanted to scratch with Reality Tunnels -- they're both stories about metaphysics and spirituality, but "Annica" is more direct, more comprehensive, and far more soulful.

If you are considering reading Reality Tunnels, please just read Annica instead. Or at least read it first. Then when you read Reality Tunnels, you can see what I was going for, and probably also see why I abandoned it.