Sunday 5 May 2013

Writing a serial story - thoughts, confessions and begging.

The idea of a weekly serial was basically a New Year’s resolution. I’ve not really suffered from writer’s block, but I have gone through times where I lack the motivation to write. So I thought that a weekly deadline might help give me some good habits.

The rules I set myself were a minimum word count of 500 words (I usually hit around a thousand), I had to publish one a week (I’ve missed one due to an exceptionally busy week) and I can’t write ahead, so I have to start each entry the week it’s published (I’ve kept to that).

I had no idea what I was going to write when I came up with the idea. Magic Falls wasn’t a novel I’d had planned or anything like that. I came up with the idea a couple of days before I started writing it, and I’ve been more-or-less making it up as I’ve been going. I have rough ideas, and I know the idea for what the end will be, although not the details yet.

To give an example, the last seven parts have formed a story around Bretton Hall (my old Uni) involving fairies. I knew what the fairies wanted, but I didn’t know exactly how I was going to resolve it. I didn’t know that it would be Jack’s daughter until I came up with the idea at the last moment. Jamie Moore is a new character who’s now going to be a major part of the overall story, but I came up with him the same week I created him. But this is a different way of writing for me, that I’m enjoying a lot.

In terms of building habits, it’s working. I’m writing more than I used to, and I’m now more comfortable writing quickly than I used to be. It’s given me more trust in my own instincts than I had before. This has also been helped by the 30 Hour Novel Writing competition, which I’ll talk more about in a future blog post.

The main problem I have, and I suspect many others have when writing, is that I doubt everything that I do. I write part of something, then I end up with a decision to make with regards to what should happen next, and I freeze. I don’t want to do it wrong, so I’d put off doing it.

I don’t know that I’ve broken that, but I’m getting better at it. I have three major stories to go, and each will be around seven parts. But I only have rough ideas what two of them will be. The Knights will be part of it, and obviously we need to find out what’s going on with Nina. The Jamie Moore mystery may need to be explained. But while I know the destination, it’s a set of rough directions rather than a map.

I’m doing another two-part story while I plan the next major one, but we’re going in the right direction. And I know what the destination is, and it's killing me having to wait until I get there. I'm impatient and I want to tell you about it all now, but I'm not going to. Because then, there'd be no point in the serial. But I'll be shocked if anyone correctly guesses where this is all heading.

Now, a confession.

It’s scary writing a serial though, because it’s not always the kind of thing that engenders interaction and feedback, and sometimes it isn’t until I check the overall trends of page-hits to see that people are reading it. And when I’m feeling down on myself, that lack of interaction can be difficult sometimes, as it feels like nobody is reading it. And while my motivation is a lot better than it has been in the past, it's still a fragile youngling, peeking out at the scary world with big eyes.

So I’m going to ask for your help in regards to that. Firstly, if you haven’t read Magic Falls yet, please do – it’s mysterious, a little scary and it’s all building up to something major.

And if you have read it, and you’re enjoying it? I have a specific and huge favour to ask in return for a year’s worth of free story.

People have been reading it, and what feedback I have been getting has suggested that those that are sticking with it are enjoying it a lot. And readership is definitely growing, but it’s growing slowly, which means that I need help in getting the word out, because I’m not doing it well enough on my own.

So here’s my favour. Tell people about it. Please. Retweeting me talking about it is lovely, and it does help, but it’s still me asking people to read what I’ve written. It’ll be more likely to convince other people if you recommend it to them. If you think someone else would like it, please tell them why.

If you’re enjoying it enough to do so, you telling people about it would be the best way you could help me to keep doing it. It’s a weekly thing, so I’m not going to ask you to constantly cheerlead or anything – that would be asking way too much. But every now and then, if you could tell other people that you think they should check it out, it would mean a lot to me, and it would help what I’m doing considerably.

Thanks for reading, and if you've been following Magic Falls, I really appreciate it.

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