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Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing a Serial Story

For the last few years I've been playing with a serial blog story. It's just for fun, Star Trek fanfic sort of, based on a character I play at work. Read it here, if you want. It's a different exercise than writing a short story or novel. Those I plan out. I know what's going to happen and where the story is going. With a serial story, I make it up as I go along. I have no idea where the story is going to end when I start writing. Each week or so, I sit down and write another episode. I guess it's like writing a tv show, but I wouldn't know. I only watch those, I've never written one.

For those who like to write by the seat-of-their-pants, this process will sound very familiar. From what I understand, those authors make it up as they go. I respect them for that. It's a tough process when you give yourself that much freedom. I write from a loose outline, nothing too specific, except for my serial story. That is truly seat-of-my-pants.

It's a weird feeling and more than a little scary to write an episode at a time and post it before you write the next one. What if the writing isn't polished? What if I made mistakes? What if I change my mind and want to rewrite to take the story in a new direction? What if it isn't any good? What if no one reads it? Wait, that last one is a good thing. Sort of.

So why do we write stories if not to share? And what's more fun than sharing that scary but exciting first exploration draft? Serial stories can be lots of fun to write and read. You have a new chapter every week, if the author sticks to a schedule (sorry, I don't do that very well with my story. I post as I write which can be very hit and miss but the first two stories are up and story #3 is started). Writing them is usually done just for fun. There is no real plotting or planning, at least the way I'm writing. The story is free to wander wherever it wants. Scary, but exciting. The story and characters can take surprising twists. For those who believe that the author is in charge and decides everything, you've never really written stories. The characters come alive and do things different than the author may want. The story may wriggle itself in brand new directions. Ideas rise from your meta-consciousness like the kraken from the deep, mysterious and unexplained.

Do you write a serial blog? Post a link and share! For those of you who've never read one, go try one.
Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster