Sunday, 24 April 2016

This is your brain on two months of serial fiction

I'm working on a serial story, a m/m werewolf romance novel uploaded free to the internet chapter by chapter. I've just uploaded chapter eight which brings the story so far to just under 20k, so it's impressive to see how a little bit every week adds up over time.

My idea with Omega Blues was to complete a draft then edit and upload it in chapters, but of course a first draft is often little more than a vague outline that shows you what you want to write for your actual story. This and the next two chapters are completely fresh and not in the original draft.

When I started uploading Omega Blues at the start of March, I had a 50k-or-so manuscript to work from. In the last couple of weeks I've been re-imagining the story to make it more dramaticcutting something into 2k chunks really makes you realize where the dull, infodumpy sections are! I've tossed aside well over half of the original writing. The fresh draft couldn't have existed without the first draft, and it definitely wouldn't be shaping up the way it is if I hadn't worked chapter-by-chapter to focus in on the best story I can possibly craft.

I've wanted to write a weekly serial for years, but all the blog posts I'd read couldn't prepare me for the experience. Like with any novel, it's an experience unique to the writer and the novel. Between work stress and band practice, I've been drained this month, and I'm confident that I wouldn't have been able to achieve as much as I have if I hadn't put in place weekly deadlines.

On the other hand, editing Omega Blues each week takes days of writing time away from my next novella, Prima Donna Boy. In the past I've seen that multi-tasking on writing projects makes them all go slower so the time between publishing drags out longer and longer. While I think this is true hereI defnitely would be further through edits on Prima Donna if I didn't keep switching to Omega Bluesthe weekly chapter uploads are proof that I am getting something done.

With writing there's a war between wanting to write fast and furiously, creating 'in the moment' with no breaks and no distractions, and wanting to take a break to plan and think about the story. Handling these two stories at once has forced me into the latter mindset, but I figure as writers we should always be experimenting and trialing, in our writing practice as well as in the writing itself.

There are plenty of anecdotes about famous writers and their routines and superstitions. They can be terrifying for a new writer because they're told from the perspective of full-time writers with established careers. Those writers always seem so definite: the only way to get any writing done is to do it exactly like this and yet there's so much conflicting advice.

The thing is, every writer is different and there isn't a one-size-fits-all writing habit. Before we know what's going to work for us, we have to experiment. From the time of day when we write to the level of distraction we can handle (music, a cafe, silence?) to the way the story itself is createdintricate planning or broad brushstrokes? Write from the start to the end, or from a key scene outwards? How much can and should a story change while it's being written?every writer and every book will be different.

I've lived in isolation, writing in a cabin in the woods with no internet or phone reception, and I have Boganettes, Hot Blood Punk and Mr Wonderful to show for it. Now I'm living in a city and writing in stolen moments between irregular work hours, a reading challenge and intense band practices. I have Omega Blues to show for it and, whatever else I can produce, I know I'll be learning more about myself and my writing from the different experience.

The latest chapter of my free werewolf m/m romance, Omega Blues, is now live on Wattpad!

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