Monday, January 5, 2009

Writing A Serial Novel - Four tips

For a new writer, the problem is getting noticed. The amount of new fiction released each month, whether in book stores or blogs, is huge. Most of it is from people readers have never heard of and most of it is, sadly, terrible. For the new writer, then, the guy or gal toiling away over the keyboard without a waiting audience beyond close friends and immediate family, taking that initial crack at the market is a daunting task.

This is only exacerbated by the fact that writing is both lonely and front loaded. Penning a novel is not a social activity, nor is it quick. And, under the typical publishing regime, nearly all the work is done before the author has any sense of whether it will pay off.

I decided early on to serialize THE HOLE, though at the time I didn’t realize I was writing a novel. During the first month or so of writing, I imagined the story would run to 10,000 words or so, about thirty pages in paperback. Because the short story market is so limited for new authors and because my concern was not making money but finding readers, I had long ago opted to put all my short fiction online instead of sending it off to the various low circulation magazines.

And that’s when I discovered what I think is the true benefit to serializing for fresh authors. If you know you have a big advance waiting for you when you cross that second or third draft finish line, motivating yourself to crank out five-hundred or a thousand or two-thousand words nearly every day is easy. But when that’s not the case, when the only place your novel might end up is the echo chamber of unpublished manuscripts, spending a year or more writing the thing can be difficult. Serializing the first draft gives an immediate response. Assuming you can find a batch of readers (a topic I’ll discuss at length in upcoming posts—subscribe to my feed if you want to be notified as they’re available), you’ll get feedback and encouragement at every step of the way.

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