Published July 20, 2018 by

Reflections on Writing "Memories of a Soul in the Underworld."

I finally finished my free story Memories of a Soul in the Underworld,  so I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the story and the writing process. Here is some insight into the writing process and my thoughts on the story.

Story themes

For me, the point of the story is someone overcoming their terrible circumstances and past tramas to reach a goal. Over the years I encountered many people who would say I wanted to do this, but I didn’t have the opportunity, or I tried once, but I failed. Sometimes these were people who could achieved their goal, if only they tried a little harder, or still could, but they didn’t believe that it was possible. If my story could inspire someone like that to reach for their goal, then I think that writing it may have been worth it.

Another theme that I wanted to cover was continuing on once everyone is gone. I moved around a lot over the past ten years, so I would often make friends, become close, only to have them leave and move on. I’m happy for them, but it was sad to see them go and sometimes I found myself very much alone. So it was something else that I wanted to add to Ethan’s list of challenges. He is alone on Hades Teeth and everyone he ever loved is gone. There is no one left to live for, or motivate him, but he somehow finds the inner strength to continue on and find a goal.


I wanted the theme of magic, but I originally wanted a more complicated magical world. I later decided that I didn’t want the story to be too complex, so I decided to base it more on what I know. I grew up in a British colony, so I decided to use the theme colonialism in Hell. In this world Europeans have gone to Africa, they’ve gone to South America, and they’ve somehow also ended up in Hell and taken over. In this world, demons are the oppressed natives and human souls from Earth are the slaves which they’ve brought in to serve them. Society is divided into humans, demons, and souls. So people are not divided into groups based on their skin colour and physical features, but they have just found other ways of being mean to each other.  

Character Development

I originally wanted Ethan to be more explicit and angry, but angry Ethan was exhausting to keep up, and I just kept wanting to mellow him out to make him easier to write. I wanted a character who is a little naive and trustworthy in the beginning, but then becomes bitter and hardened through his own experiences.

Ethan is also a very physically weak character, so he can’t solve his problems through brute strength alone. He lives in a world with magic, but his body is incapable of using it, so he has to use his mind to overcome any challenges. The only way for him to gain the skills he needs to survive is through knowledge, which isn’t even easy for him to get, to he has to really go out of his way just to improve himself. As a soul it’s impossible for him to own any physical possessions, but knowledge is the one thing which can never be taken away.

The fight scenes were also interesting to write, because he must use his body in a way that will help him win.

Characters like Alistair and Josephine were also very challenging to write. Alistair is kind and popular, but he also has many annoying habits. Ethan also resents him for dying, so he tries to convince himself that he never cared for Alistair at all.  So much time has passed that Ethan doesn’t actually remember Alistair correctly, and if the real living breathing Alistair popped up in his face, Ethan would probably be thrown off. Imaginary Alistair is also more of a manifestation of Ethan’s worries and self-doubt, so he doesn’t always share the opinions of the real Alistair. That was also another difficult thing to show in the story.

Josephine was also a difficult character, and I’m not 100% happy with the way she turned out. She’s someone who was very arrogant and selfish when she was younger, then gradually became kinder through age and experience. She regrets her past self, and has decided to dedicate the remainder of her life to achieving her dead friend’s goals, which was to help others. Josephine sees the big picture, so she believes that challenging government policies is the best way to achieve permanent change.

Josephine doesn’t force Ethan the change himself, but he is inspire by her actions and decides to be a better person and help her. Josephine and Ethan undergo such drastic changes in their characters, that I feel that if they had met at the start, then at the end, they wouldn’t be able to recognise each other.

Writing Style

I wanted to write believable characters, who would speak honestly given the situation, so many of my first drafts had a lot of swearing. It was difficult to decide whether to keep the swear words or not. I feel like there are people who will immediately put the book down and give you a bad review for using the F words (seriously, this word would be meaningless if no one freaked out) but to me, that’s how the characters would talk in real life in those sort of situations. To me, the scene would feel fake if I didn’t include any swearing. I decided to compensate by moving all the swearing to the second half of the story where people would be more likely to accept it after a gradual build up.

Because it’s written for Ethan’s point of view, all the events and things that he experienced are from his perspective, and if I were to write it from another characters POV it could be an entirely different story. So much time has passed since many of the events that Ethan can’t actually recall them correctly. Such as names and places. Some things may not have actually happened, and he forced himself to forget more painful things. This was a theme which I wanted to actually include more in the story, but I felt that it would confuse the reader so I didn’t make it a big thing.

Another difficult part of the writing is that Ethan spends a lot of time on his own, so there are no interesting supporting characters that stay around for long. It was difficult to write the story without mentioning too many I did and I said. I feel like Ethan being alone is the point of the story, but it could have been more interesting if I included more characters.

I submitted this story for feedback several times and was often told that it could have been better in third person, but I feel like it should be in first. Ethan changes names various times throughout the story, so I feel like it would be be difficult to follow if I wrote it in third. I also like the idea of him being in another word, but pretty much taking things for granted because he doesn’t know anything else.

Ethan Alistair relationship

In my original drafts Ethan was more into Alistair from the start of the story. It was one of those things where I was like I want this to be part of the story, but could it make it difficult to sell?

But it was something I really wanted to include, so I instead moved it to the end of the story. I felt like I was chickening out, but I think it improves the story by making it more subtle at the start, and then obvious towards the end.

Ethan  he was very upset by Alistair’s death, so it’s only natural that he tried to protect himself by trying to convince himself that he never felt that way at all. It’s only later that he remembers how he truly felt.


Editing was terrible. I felt that I was going insane.

Overall thoughts

If I could go back in time would I write it again…….actutally no. In a way it was good because I could finally get some ideas that I’d had for a long time out of my head, but it took me two years to finish and it made me mostly depressed.

I felt it was important for Ethan to really hit some lows, which probably don’t seem that long when you read the book, but a lot of those scenes took weeks to write while I tried to make them as depressing as possible. There were many times when I had to dig deep within myself for memories and events which upset me in the past. It a way it was good, because it forced me to face some things which I’d rather not think about, but as Ethan also learns it’s impossible to move forward if you’re always living in the past.

Future plans

In my mind, this isn’t the end of Ethan’s story. His still has many challenges on his way to becoming human. I do have certain future plot points in my head, but I’m currently mentally burnt out from writing this story, so I have to give myself a break. I plan to chill for a bit, write some other stuff, and then maybe come back to it later.

Support the story

If you have read Memories of a Soul in the Underworld and you’d like to see more, please support me by leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It shows that my story is not a scam and helps to attract more sales. More sales means more income to help support this project.

Check out my story Memories of a Soul in the Underworld
online here.


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