Digital Angels is a bit of an experiment. It is a serial story, updating weekly - much like a webcomic, but with more words and less pictures. One reason that I'm choosing to do this story in this manner is that without deadlines, I find it difficult to sit down and write: too many other distractions. Having a weekly deadline should help overcome that.
The format is not without its own difficulties, however. Normally when I write, I go back and make changes, excise parts, or just move things around to adjust the flow. Sometimes a really good idea for a scene or detail doesn't pop up until you're several pages past where it would go. Keeping the story unreleased until complete allows these sorts of changes. Releasing in parts as it is written...doesn't.
So, we'll see how it goes. Other people have done it successfully, though - from those who write character diaries on LiveJournal to Mashiro's serial story Okashina Futari (story in Japanese | English translations) - so there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to.
About the story itself:
The name/concept of the main character, Digital Angel Bunny-ear Maid "Rumipettan," hopped into being about a year or so ago. I used it as a handle on MSN for a bit, as sort of a teasing compilation of many different things that a friend liked: a character name designed to hit all the right buttons, so to speak. There was never really much of a story behind her at that time.
Earlier this year, as I wrapped up one writing project, my thoughts turned to how to develop this nebulous concept into something...more. I also wanted to revive an idea that never materialized into anything - that of a person who underwent a "class change" so as to be able to work in a maid cafe. It was going to be a comic commissioned from John Colburn (the artist of Ninmu Nanmu), but once I had saved the money for the commission, he had stopped taking commissions. (The first "class change" comic commission had been used as a filler, but has since been taken down.) So, to the backburner it went.
Then, problems with the concepts presented themselves. I generally write science fiction or fantasy - worlds that I create. A magical girl story (anime, manga) almost always takes place in the real world, or at least a parallel version thereof. A major advantage to using the real world as a setting is that you don't have to make up a lot of stuff; by contrast, however, the major disadvantage is that you have to do a lot of research on that setting, then. Further, the "class change" comic commission worked as a one-shot thing, but fitting the concept into "the real world" gets a little tricky.
So, three problems, somewhat interrelated: writing a magical girl story (which can basically be considered a subset of the superhero story) in a 'modern' world that isn't the modern world is odd; lots of extra research needed in order to present a believable modern setting (not just geographical information, but cultural, legal, etc); and a difficult time working in the backstory I wanted, which was to be separate from being chosen as a magical girl.
The solution: set it in a virtual world. A futuristic environment that can closely represent the modern world, but has allowances for oddball things like changing one's class or leveling up. Think like Matrix, but without the evil overlord undertones and grungy feel. It also fits beautifully with the digital theme of these magical girls, and prompted concepts for opponents and problems to solve. One idea leads to many; happy writer.
The next step wasn't entirely necessary for writing - though it is helpful - but I felt it would be important for doing a web serial. Character art. I had just finished up with some Ranma 1/2 fanart commissions from Sarah Meadows, and inquired if she'd be available and willing to help design these characters. She was. And so more commissions are underway as I write this (though, should be done by the time this goes online next month). Y'all should take a look through her gallery - there's lots of lovely Sailor Moon and Ranma 1/2 art therein. And if you decide to commission her, let her know you found her from here. =^.^=
And that, as they say, is that.
--2011.05.08 -- Maelyn