Category Archives: Fiction

Enjoy Writing Short Stories? Write Serial Fiction

Enjoy Writing Short Stories? Write Serial Fiction

Should you write serial fiction? I get lots of questions about serials, so let’s cover the basics.

You may be wondering just what “serials” are. In a nutshell, they’re entertainment: ongoing stories, which are released serially.

Serials: storytelling in many forms

Serials were hugely popular with readers and viewers up to the 1950s, when television arrived.

They were published as books by authors like Charles Dickens. Many other authors published their serials in magazines. Once a serial was complete, it was published again in book form, in one, or several volumes.

Movies were released as serials in theaters, again up to the 1950s. From the 1950s onward, serials flourished as episodic TV series.

Today, serials are as popular as they ever were, with companies like Netflix releasing their shows as serials.

You may be thinking that that’s wonderful… but can YOU write a serial and publish it?

Serial fiction: fun for plotters and pantsers

My writing students are sometimes reluctant to attempt a serial. Pantsers are concerned that they “can’t plot”, and plotters worry about the success or failure of their serial.

Pantsers who “can’t plot”…

You might be surprised at your own abilities, because if you can write a short story, you can write a series of ongoing short stories. Then, hey presto: you just wrote a serial.

We discussed a “natural outlining” process which will help.

Serial fiction: how long should your serial be?

In Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks I give you a process for writing serial fiction.

Your serial can be any length you choose. Your serial might consist of: ten chapters/ episodes at 10,000 words each, making a total of 100,000 words. That said, there’s no need to write at this length. You can write five episodes of 6,000 words or whatever suits your story.

Another common question I receive about serials is: what if your serial doesn’t sell enough copies to make it viable?

Oh no: what to do if your serial fiction slumps

Some books sell. Others should sell, and don’t. Sometimes these books can suddenly take off months later. Some are just useless. It happens.

Here’s what to do if your serial slumps:

  • Decide whether or not to complete it. You can end your serial at any time. Wrap it up, in any way you can;
  • If you enjoy writing the serial, keep going, and finish it;
  • Bundle the serial into a single volume. It may sell as a standalone;
  • Expand your serial into one or more novels.

You always have options.

One of my writing students was planning a serial. She had a LOT of plot. I suggested that she write a short serial of just five episodes, then carry the plot forward into a trilogy of short novels.

This process worked well. She released the serial when she had the first novel in the trilogy ready for preorder. Then she published the next two novels quickly. This trilogy is still her top seller.

Should you write serial fiction?

If you like writing short stories and publishing quickly, give serial fiction a try. Serials are a lot of fun, and readers enjoy them.

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

eBook: $5.99

Why write serial fiction?

Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.

It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.

If you’re a new author, a serial serves to introduce you to readers. A reader may not be willing to commit to a novel by a new author, but be willing to read an episode of a serial.

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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

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Make Plotting Fiction Easier: 3 Ideas For Settings And Moods

Make Plotting Fiction Easier: 3 Ideas For Settings And Moods

Before I begin intensive plotting for any piece of fiction, I like to brainstorm settings and moods. It makes plotting easier. Just as movies have location scouts, you can scout locations for your scenes too.

New fiction authors tend to use just a couple of settings, so their fiction is less exciting than it could be.

Plotting and place: everything happens somewhere

Unlike a playwright, or a movie director, novelists don’t have to worry about a budget. They can set their scenes anywhere their imagination takes them — on a lonely island in the Pacific, or on Mars.

Aim to develop settings which will indicate a mood, because this will affect your characters, and intensify their emotions.

You could set a scene in which your main characters are out in a small boat in a storm for example. Set the scene on a cruise ship on a sunny day however, with your characters sipping margaritas, and the mood would be very different.

Let’s look at some ideas for plotting with settings and moods.

1. Enhance your plots: brainstorm locations

Having a variety of settings makes plotting easier.

For example, let’s say that you’re writing a contemporary romance, which is set in your home town. Why your home town? Because you know that location well, in every season of the year, so it cuts down on research time.

Your main character is an artist, who owns a gift shop. Without brainstorming, your locations might be: her home, an old Victorian house; her gift shop; a coffee shop.

All fine, of course. But what if your locations included:

  • The courthouse, where your heroine works as a sketch artist during a trial;
  • The local museum, where she’s commissioned to paint a mural;
  • The local spa, where…
  • And so on.

Without thinking about it too much, you can quickly come up with a number of settings which will set a mood, and help you with plotting.

2. Pantser? Develop settings while you’re writing

Although it’s easier to develop settings while you’re plotting, before you start writing, what if you’re a pantser?

In that case, opportunities to vary your settings will present themselves, if you’re looking for them. Keep asking yourself: what if…?

  • What if I set this scene on a deserted beach, rather than in their kitchen?
  • What if the murder happened on a plane, rather than in an office?

3. Better settings: change your scene locations when you’re editing

Let’s say you’ve written the first draft of a novel, and you’re concerned that the settings are generic. You can change them when you’re editing.

You needn’t change every scene. Look for a scene which needs a little extra punch — you’re sure that you could do more with this scene.

Brainstorm locations. You’ll able to revamp the scene, changing the setting and the mood, without too much effort.

Keep a “settings” file: it makes plotting easier

When you become aware that settings and mood can enhance your fiction, you’ll want to develop a “settings” file.

I keep a Settings notebook in Evernote. If I’m out and about somewhere, and think “oooh… fascinating”, I’ll snap a couple of photos. When I get back to my car, I write a few sentences about the location.

At home, I’ll transfer the idea, as well as the photos, to Evernote. Then I brainstorm how I could use the setting. The brainstorming is important, because ideas tend to be as hazy as dreams. Unless you cement your idea, it drifts away like smoke.

Have fun with settings — you’ll find plotting easier.

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99

In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

More info →
Buy from Apple Books
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Check out Angela’s Writing Classes and Angela’s books for writers.

Writing Fiction: Stop “Writing”, Create Experiences

Writing Fiction: Stop “Writing”, Create Experiences

You’re writing fiction. You’ve published one, or several novels. Perhaps you’ve yet to complete your novel.

Wherever you are in your publishing career, you want one thing — the same thing every other author wants. You want your novel to sell because you want readers.

So, how can you be certain that your novel will sell?

There’s only one way.

When you’re writing fiction, stop “writing”

To sell, your novel must entertain readers.

Unfortunately we authors often lose track of the “entertainment factor.” It’s easily done. We’re writers, so we concentrate on the writing. We want to write well — but when that shows, it’s fatal.

if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it

In New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy, I shared my favorite Elmore Leonard writing tip:

My most important rule (for writers) is … if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

Similarly, you may have heard the advice to “kill your darlings.” It’s the same thing. It’s “writing”, so you’re not entertaining readers.

Next time you read something in your fiction which gives you a warm glow, stop. Are you thinking, modesty forbids… but that’s quite good? If you are, ask yourself: am I creating an experience with these words?

The easy fix for “writing” syndrome

There’s an easy fix for “writing”. Here it is. Stop focusing on the words. Focus on what’s happening in your novel instead.

Unfortunately, this can be a challenge, especially if you’re a new author. You’ll get better at recognizing “writing” problems as you gain experience.

In your first draft, only fix obvious problems.

When you get around to editing, rewrite when you find anything which bores you. Ask your beta readers to identify any scenes in which their attention wandered.

Tip: entertain yourself first

If you’re not having fun with your writing, your readers won’t have fun either. Boredom is always a clue.

When boredom hits, try this simple exercise.

Set a timer for five minutes.

Start writing with this phrase: Here’s how to make this scene exciting…

Then follow your own advice. Make writing fiction fun for yourself, and you’ll entertain your readers.

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

More info →
Buy from Apple Books
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing

How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily.

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