After Kyla’s catches her long-time boyfriend cheating, she vows to never love again. To help clear her mind, Kyla has a one-night stand with a mysterious, wealthy stranger. Only problem…the strange wants more than just one night…
“Beautiful Mistake” was published on an immersive fiction app called Galatea. You can read it by downloading the app here.
Content warning: This story contains graphic erotic material.
This story was a collaboration between many people including writers, editors, and sound designers. I am the main writer of Chapters 4 – 16 inclusive.
What is Immersive Fiction?
Last April I had the opportunity to do some freelance writing for an app called Galatea. It’s an immersive fiction app which is actually a pretty interesting concept. Basically, their stories appeal to other senses through the addition of sound effects, music, visual effects, etc. I think they may even be experimenting with AR right now.
Galatea is created by a Berlin-based publisher called Inkitt. They bill themselves as The World’s #1 Reader-Powered Book Publisher. Inkitt has on online platform where anyone in the world can post their stories. The company then tracks user engagement with those stories to determine what is popular – For example, if a bunch of people are still up reading a story a 4 in the morning, it’s probably good. They then offer the best performing stories publishing deal.
As I understand it, since launching the Galatea app, Inkitt now exclusively offers these well-performing writers the chance to have their stories adapted for Galatea by professional writers. That’s where I came in, I was adapting someone else’s already successful story.
Conception of “Beautiful Mistake”
The story Inkitt gave me to work on was “Beautiful Mistake” by Mel Ryle. It’s your basic Billionaire romance. Apparently Galatea’s main readership is romance lovers so there are a lot of Werewolf and Billionaire stories on the app.
The stories on the app have a very specific format similar to TV. They are released in 30-episode (or chapter) chunks called a season; each episode begins with a hook and ends with a strong cliff hanger. Because the story was an adaptation, I had very little control over the outline. The team at Galatea had already worked with Ryle to adapt it to their format and gave me an outline that was ready to go.
Even though I couldn’t change what happened, I had a lot of fun writing how it happened. I was encouraged keep it interesting by adding lots of text conversations (one of Galatea’s favourite immersive elements) and switching view points regularily. The latter gave me a lot of freedom to explore various character’s feelings and work with whomever would be the most interesting to depict and event.
What was it like writing for Galatea
One of Inkitt’s writers had already written a pilot (the first 3 episodes) which had been live on the app for several months. This allowed them to gauge reader interest to see if it was worth adapting into a full season. I was also paired up with another freelance writer, a woman from London, to tackle the remaining twenty-seven chapters together. When we first met we quickly decided who should write what part. Since I was also a working full-time job, my partner was kind enough to let me write the smaller half. I wrote Episodes 4 – 16 and she took 17 – 30.
We had two weeks to finish the entire story. During the first week we both wrote our own separate pieces. Since we had an outline to follow, we didn’t require too much commination but we still messaged throughout the day to keep each other updated on our progress. This was especially important when it came to character depictions. We wanted to make sure they felt consistent through the entire season.
The Actual Writing
Each section was supposed to be in the neighborhood of 1,600 to 2,000 words (Together we actually ended up writing about 40,000 words – half the length of the first Harry Potter – in one week). In my first few sections I aimed for 1,900 hundred and ended up overshooting every time. This meant I had to go back and cut a lot of material. By about the fourth section I had got the hang of it. I would aim for 1,600 and usually be right on target or just a little over. Only once did I come under by about 150 words and then had to add a paragraph to fill space.
Having shorter chapters was doubly beneficial: One, it allowed me to get through the voluminous writing a lot faster: Two, it made it way easier to edit later on beause I almost always needed to add material to better bring the characters to life. This was dificult to do in the section where I was already close to the word limit because every line added meant a different line had to be cut.
The second week was for editing. First, my partner and I read each other’s material and provide feedback. We had full autonomy to choose which comments to implement and which ones to ignore, but we were encouraged to consider everything. Next, a senior staff writer from Inkitt read over our work and provided their thoughts.
For me, the editing was a lot more time consuming than the actual writing. For the first part, I was able to get into a flow state and crank out four or five sections a day (I actually finished my whole part in only 3 days, a level of writing I haven’t done before or since). The editing took me a long time as I slowly added and cut and reworked sentences to get the appropriate tone and feel while also keeping the word count in mind.
After we completed the writing I didn’t hear anything for a few months as their senior writers made last-minute corrections and then the story was sent to the Sound Engineers for a sound treatment.
Reading my own – newly immersive – story
It took several months before Inkitt released “Beautiful Mistake” and I couldn’t wait to read it. I was happy to discover that almost everything I wrote remained unchanged. There were maybe ten sentences that the senior writers had edited.
Throughout the writing process I had put deliberate sound cues into my writing for the Sound Engineers (i.e. “the elevator dinged”) and couldn’t wait to actually hear my story come to life! But when I finally did hear it, I found myself a little disappointed. It didn’t sound exactly as I had imagined it in my head. What was super interesting for me were the times that the Sound Engineers added a sound I didn’t plan. These brought me more into the story by signaling the setting in ways I hadn’t even considered.
I also loved the music – Especially during the tense scenes!
Overall, writing for Inkitt was a super positive experience. It gave me an opportunity to write professionally, work with other writers in the industry, and receive valuable feedback which definitely did help improve my writing.
One of the most important things for me was the outline I’d had to follow. I’ve always known that I write better when following an outline, but I’ve also always been bad at making an outline. Having one given to me that I had to follow forced me to focus entirely on the writing to produce the best work I could.
If you’re interested in romance stories, then definitely check out Beautiful Mistake on the Galatea app!