***Spoilers for my short story, Rodney.
The footsteps stop just outside my cubicle. I feel a wave of coldness; it feels like a walk-in freezer door just opened behind me. I wonder what the hell is going on and I swivel in my chair.
Standing in front of me is none other than Rodney. Yeah, the guy who died. The Rodney who used to sit next to me. He’s standing a few feet away, just looking at me.
“Uh.” I can’t get any words out. I take a sharp breath and my shoulders twitch. I wait for him to dissolve or fade but he looks as real and as solid as any live person. My heart is pounding now and my brain is screaming at me to wake up. I blink a couple of times, trying to clear the impossible image. It doesn’t work. I consider turning my back but, whoa, there’s a dead person standing right in front of me and no one in their right mind would give them their back, not in an enclosed space.
I wrote an original horror ghost story a few years ago called Rodney. That’s an excerpt up there (click here if you want to read the entire story). I told myself at long last this story had no homoerotic elements in it. The first time I had it critiqued by a writing group they loved it and gave me some great suggestions.
I had it critiqued again, this time by two writers and a non-writer, and they all pointed out the following:
- The main character, Sam, should be a girl because Sam is in love with Rodney.
- Sam is too emotional to be a guy.
- Sam is either insane or dreaming or really is experiencing a supernatural event and I need to decide which one it is and explain it in plain terms to the readers.
- One person said the story was going to give him nightmares.
Their critiques were so unpleasant (except for no. 4) that I put Rodney away for a couple of years until I pulled it out and rewrote it for you as a romance. I resisted rewriting the story for long time but I had to admit the interactions between the two main characters could be seen as ambiguous, and not necessarily in a good way, so I decided to go whole hog with the rewrite.
About six months ago, YaoiCon announced that they were taking submissions for an anthology. I had rewritten Rodney as a shounen-ai or a romance and was working on the last edits. I had promised to post this story here but decided since it was already in good shape that I should try submitting it.
They rejected it though they didn’t say why. Maybe because there wasn’t any smut. Anyway, I happily posted the story here and have been glad to see it on the website.
Rewriting Rodney was much easier than I thought it would be. In the process of focusing on a romance, the characters became even more fleshed out than I thought was possible and their interactions made more sense.
The hardest part to change was where Rodney makes his first appearance. The original scene is very gory, bloody, and explained in great detail. I must admit I enjoyed writing that part so cutting it was difficult. And it was difficult to figure out how much to keep in and how much to take out so that scene would go with the story revisions.
Maybe I’ll post the original version sometime later. It might be fun to see the differences, especially in the tone of the story.