And in some cases, this is stuff that I’ve learned the hard way. I considered this when I came across Cassie’s post asking what was important in free fiction online. I misread her and thought she meant free serial fiction, which inspired this post.
Tis a fortuitous thing that I consider what I’ve learned about serial fiction, given I’m going into the second season of my own series. So, to that end, what have I learned in the last 6-8 months or so of writing Agents Provocateurs?
In no particular order …
1. Edit, edit, edit. I do edit, but I’ve promised myself this time around I’ll edit even harder. This came up in Cassie’s post. Watch the spelling mistakes. It smacks of unprofessional. Consider the whole venture as being a top notch thing. Would you let this particular post go to the publishers like this? People are unforgiving and hard, I think. Best not to piss them off with spelling mistakes.
2. Keep well in advance. The more chapters/episodes/parts you have up your sleeve the better. This gives you time to do more editing, and keep on top of things. I never had much of a problem of this. At some points I was 2 months ahead. You don’t need the added stress of thinking ‘where is next weeks chapter coming from?’
3. Keep track. I need to do this one better. Because I’m so well in advance, I miss where I’m up to. Once I skipped a chapter, and had to release two chapters on one day to fix the problem. I also left the end chapter off a part, and am now remedying that particular fault. Keep a calendar perhaps? Showing what part gets released when. This gives you more confidence as to where you’re at, and avoids embarrising skips.
4. Give it it’s own site. This seems like a no brainer, but my serial fiction so far has lived on my personal writing site. When it has its own site, it just makes things easier on the reader. I think that thinks should be as easy as hell for the reader as possible. Any small gripe that can turn a reader off loses you a reader, no matter how good your story is.
5. Consistency. If it’s a weekly thing, make sure it’s a weekly thing. Don’t ever skip. I’m really hard on that one myself. Part of the charm of serial fiction (to me at least) is the regularity, the coming back and tuning in next week for more excitement. Again, this comes back to professionalism. Make sure you’re carrying the thing with that professionalism. Just another small thing that might turn away a reader.
6. Keep It Simple, Stupid. This is one that I might have considered before I started this whole thing. This is one that I want to open up to discussion though, because I’m sure people have views on this. Don’t go too complicated in the story. If people are reading on a weekly basis, they have to remember what came last, and what came previous in the storyline.
Obviously I’m not following this one. I’m writing not only multiple characters, I’m writing spy intrigue on a national basis, set in a setting where the reader has to be bought up to speed with the technology. Not too long ago, I incorporated a recap, so that the new reader could see what happened last, and the old reader could have a refresher.
Ah, if only my serial followed one character on a simple storyline …
7. Don’t neglect advertising. I suck at this one. It’s a matter of finding the places to push your serial fiction, and it’s a matter of continuing it. Never let up on that. Well, this is only important if readers are important to you. Marketing ties back to being professional in it all.
Right. That’s my list for now. I think this that this serial fiction is a new thing. I wrote the same sort of thing under a different name back when I first started writing. But with the advent of this whole efiction thing, I think it’s probably just being packaged different.
Anyway, is there anything that anyone thinks I’ve left off this list? Either with my own series, or with serial fiction in general? Most of this stuff is logistic, and not even touching style and the art of writing serial fiction as apposed to different fiction types. Is there anything as a reader of serial fiction that you have to have before you even give the series a try?