NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Serialously Late!

And other terrible puns.

I apologize -- I'm writing the final chapters of a serial novella I began a couple of months ago on Wattpad. I've reached the point (at last!) where the writing is going well and I am completely immersed in the story. That's the good part (as far as enjoying the work) and the bad part (as far as getting anything else done).

The story is called The Haunted Heart and you can read the first eleven chapters right here.

It's a ghost story and a romance, but not only is it serialized, it's the first of four interconnected novellas, so while part of the story completes this weekend (fingers crossed) the full story won't complete for...well, it's possible that it might take years. Writing schedules being what they are.

In fact, I just signed a contract with Carina Press for two new stories. Stranger on the Shore (classic romantic suspense with an M/M twist) and Fair Play, the sequel to Fair Game. So that's a lot of next year taken up already.

I've never done a serial before, and it's been a fascinating experience. Obviously there is pressure to produce. That's not a bad thing; in fact, right now it might be a very good thing for me. It's strange getting feedback as I'm working on the rough draft, but it's also encouraging in a way I didn't expect. It's difficult sharing a rough draft (and I know how rough this is), to work through questions of age and motivation and backstory in public. I hate the strings of the puppet show to be visible! At the same time, I'm relieved to find that I'm not any more acutely aware of the reader than usual, so that's good. I guess it turns out I'm always aware of the reader, but that awareness only influences me so far. So that resolves one of my fears about working this way -- the fear that the story might change into something not my own if it was revealed in its malleable form.

As a reader, I'm not a fan of serials. I like being able to look ahead. Yes, I admit that. If the tension becomes insurmountable, I like to look ahead and decide if I'm going to keep reading. I'm one of those. You can't do that in a serial. You can't read ahead and you can't know how it all turns out. I guess that's a good thing. I was climbing the walls reading Ginn Hale's Rifter series.

When I'm done with this story, I plan to let it sit for a while. That won't be easy to do because we're all conditioned to cranking stuff out at the speed of light. But I know there are layers here that I'm missing because of the time factor, so I will finish and then I will go back and layer in the little details that give any story its richness and depth. Also I made my mind up that no erotic scenes would be shared in this format. That's more because Wattpad is mostly populated by very, very young writers and readers.

Anyway, this was an experiment for me, and so far it feels successful. I've noticed that a number of writers are experimenting with serialized stories, so I wonder if the serial is making a comeback? What do you think? Do you enjoy reading serialized stories? Do you enjoy writing serialized stories?

21 comments:

M said...

"As a reader, I'm not a fan of serials. I like being able to look ahead. Yes, I admit that. If the tension becomes insurmountable"

I am SO one of those! Much to the dismay of several of my writing friends. :-) Sometimes you just have to know that the end is worth the middle. I'm not a huge fan of serials because I'm an instant gratification type of person. That being said, one must do what one must do to get new Lanyon material, though I must admit, I held out until almost the end.

KC said...

I haven't read a serial before this one. Now i'm reading two... It would have been unbearable to read The Rifter as a serial, but that's because it has that intensity that makes me want to constantly check what happens ahead (yes, i'm sooo one of those).

That said, i've been enjoying immensely The Haunted Heart. Yes, there's edge of seat panic at times, but it's so nicely tempered with heart-breaking and heart-warming moments that it's worth it.

It is also an interesting experience. During and after reading each chapter, i can let my mind freely wonder and ponder :) it's like a possible worlds thing.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Like you, I struggle with serials as a reader. I like to know I can finish an entire story in a night if I'm hooked... As a writer, I've watched a couple of my friends put out serials through Amazon, and it looks like a wild and crazy ride...but also an interesting challenge. I might give it a go one day. For now, I like figuring out and polishing my story before readers see it. ;)

Sara Winters said...

I love serials. I've read several over the past few years (one just stopped in the middle somewhere :-/) and I'm reading two ongoing ones now. I'm also preparing to write one because 1. I love the format and 2. I hope to produce ebooks of the finished product.

I suppose I like it because of the instant feedback to character and story development. I started on writing and posting stories online, so I'm used to the instant reaction as opposed to readers giving feedback on complete stories. It's fascinating reading comments from readers when I as the writer know how it will all end.

Alex said...

I've been posting sections of a story on Wattpad, and I'm finding it difficult because when I change the direction of the story, it often changes what I've already posted. So I have to decide whether it's enough to delete and repost the changed section, or just plow ahead...

Denise said...

I'm not a huge serial fan, either, for the same reason as you, Josh. I like to look ahead and I like to be able to read as much of the story as I feel like reading. That said, it *is* fun to look forward to the next installment and to wonder what twists the story might take. Rifter drove me nuts, too, because it was so good and I always wanted more, MORE!! Much the same as with this current story, which I've followed since close to the beginning. At least there's not a month between installments! I'm looking forward to reading the final, revised version and I'm definitely looking forward to the new stuff you have planned!

StacieH4 said...

Serials aren't my favorite thing. I always seem to forget to check for new installments, and I can never remember where the story left off, so I have to go back and reread. I also have this feeling in the back of my mind that I shouldn't get too invested because the author could stop at any time and leave me high and dry.

That being said, I am really enjoying The Haunted Heart, though I end every read with the thought "Dammit, Josh!" ringing in my head. I want to know what happens next, RIGHT NOW!! Plus, I find myself comparing his first draft to my first drafts and wonder what the heck I think I am doing trying to be a writer. He has such a gift; it is both inspiring and frustrating. So yeah, the whole experience has left me with that "Thank you sir, may I have another?" kind of feeling.... Dammit, Josh, when is the next installment? :)

Toni Anderson said...

I was asked to write a serial and decided against it. My rewrites are always major on the second draft (and third LOL) I am sure it would be a hot mess. Your book looks great, Josh. Love the cover!

Jean Harrington said...

Josh, Not to be too antique, but Dickens mastered the serial genre. And look at him! Go for it.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I love reading about the process/outcome when an author tries something new!

I haven't read a lot of serials. I'm not one of those "peek ahead" people, but I *am* impatient. :) So when I read a serial, I like to know it's complete and the delivery is on a schedule, not indefinite and contingent upon the author's other deadlines. That can get too frustrating! :)

Josh Lanyon said...

M, I appreciate the fact that so many of you were willing to close your eyes and jump! I'd probably be one of those people sticking close to shore and suspiciously watching the waves. :-D

Josh Lanyon said...

KC, I read the Rifter in installments (at least I got it a couple of installments at a time, but still it was HELL)!

But I admit it's fun too because you're suffering through that hell with other readers, so it becomes a community experience.

Josh Lanyon said...

Anne, it is definitely hard on the ego putting something out there that you know is not really ready for prime time. But it's also weirdly invigorating.

Maybe like skinny dipping? :-D

Josh Lanyon said...

Sara, as a reader that is one of my great fears -- that a writer might not complete the project. That would be truly unforgivable.

Yes, it's interesting to see readers trying to figure out where the story is headed.

Josh Lanyon said...

Alex, I agree. Mostly I've decided to just plow along. I figure that's the point of it being a rough draft. The final version will change, though likely not substantially. It will be longer and more nuanced, for sure.

Josh Lanyon said...

Thanks so much, Denise. I'm curious to hear how readers who read the original version enjoy the final draft. It'll be interesting for sure.

Josh Lanyon said...

Stacie, that's so nice of you to say.

I did vow when I started that I would NOT leave readers hanging (for more than the length of a chapter). And that commitment did keep me moving briskly ahead, so that was a pay off.

As for my rough drafts, well...I've certainly written messier versions -- and cleaner! But basically it's the advantage of doing something for a very long time. :-)

Josh Lanyon said...

Thanks, Toni! :-)

Josh Lanyon said...

Jean, all I can think is how patient people were back in the Victorian age. I can't even wait between weekly installments of my favorite shows!

Josh Lanyon said...

That's the tricky part of this, Natalie. I didn't start posting until I was about three chapters in and knew I'd for sure finish within a month or so. Anything else would have been cruel to readers and embarrassing to me! :-D

Hugh said...

Awesome!

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