I’m a better writer. I damned well will sound conceited saying so, but I aim to prove it. For a series pilot, the first episode of Hell on Wheels (HoW) accomplished the introduction of the main characters and established their motivations to set the course of the story.

I got that. Cullen wants revenge for the rape and murder of his wife, and he gunned down a man in confession at church, with some contemptuous looks at the mounted Jesus on the cross, and doubts Christ’s forgiveness of the wicked. I’ve laid out a hypocritical preacher who’s cheating on his wife while raping and fathering a child with his slave, whom in turn is gang-raped by supposed white abolitionist men when she’s only 12. Beyond sex and murder in and for the church, I didn’t begin my novel with one shooting, but an ambush and darn bloody exchange of gunfire in a nearly one-sided slaughter of two dozen men against an equal or greater number. A betrayal helped orchestrate the tragedy and Christopher Pratt is set on his course to take revenge.

However, almost immediately, Christopher is involved with Abigail and the just-blossoming romance provides conflicting priorities for him. Plus, having a live love interest provides Christopher with someone to protect – a motive that can thrust passion into the story. I want my readers to really feel the fear and desperation of my characters.
Obviously, the wife of the surveyor with tuberculosis who just got killed by the Indians will shortly become a love-interest for Cullen in HoW. I hope the episodic series really moves, however, and this doesn’t take up the whole first season with the romance evolving, nor tease you with sexual tension for the course of the series. I realize her husband just died on HoW, however, life out there is cheap, short, and ends violently. So you don’t waste any time. On the Walking Dead episode that aired just prior to HoW, two characters just ****ed in a pharmacy. I’ve actually already written a similar scene for Davina in The Library (my Civil War western’s sequel), however, true to making it more edgy, she is ****ing her uncle, the pharmacist, just before she murders him.

HoW is still very predictable. I am working at being quite the opposite with my novels. Of course in HoW, there was “the sergeant,” who was also responsible for what happened to Cullen’s wife. So now he has to find and kill that guy, too. In the best case scenario, the writers “convict” an innocent man whom the railroad foreman wanted to set Cullen’s wrath against for his own motivations and Cullen has taken the bait. Shooting the wrong man would provide controversy now. Just offing another bad guy would keep in staying with the predictable. You have to write the unexpected, and often sick, twisted, and taboo to not keep with doing the same thing over and over again. But now HoW can have a second episode, as Cullen hunts down this Union sergeant that was alluded to. One great moment was when the audience and Cullen are robbed of the satisfaction of seeing him kill that last man, and the ex-slave’s character cuts his throat instead. It left the viewers hungry to see Cullen’s need for vengeance satiated. I tried to do that when I presumably kill two of my three main characters multiple chapters before the end of my story, and Daniel Winthrop appears poised to get away with at least some of his crimes.

Anyway, I’m left demanding more from the writing for HoW after this first outing and hope I see it else this series might not last, or I might not continue watching. The acting is fantastic however! The cast shows true potential.