Tag Archives: writing process

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.

More info →
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Resources to build your writing career

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

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 More: 3 Essential Strategies To Write Your Book

Writing More: 3 Essential Strategies To Write Your Book

Whatever happened in 2018, the year’s almost over. A new year offers a new beginning, so perhaps you’re thinking of what you’ll do differently next year. One of my students has decided that she’ll focus on writing more in 2019.

She’s making that her primary New Year’s resolution, because she wants to write and publish two books in 2019. Her challenge is that she’s struggling to find time.

She asked for some tips to help.

Writing more: habits, time, and enthusiasm

Unfortunately, writing more longterm isn’t just a matter of clearing time in your schedule. If it were simple, you would be doing it already.

To write more, consider:

  • Your current daily habits: do you write every day? Could you develop a writing habit?
  • How much time do you have to write each day, or each week?
  • Can you generate enthusiasm for your writing?

Let’s look at habits, time, and enthusiasm in a little more detail, so that you can build a strategy.

But wait… Are you thinking that “writing more” sounds a lot like working more? You can write way more than you do now, and work less, when you develop a writing habit.

1. Develop a writing habit so that writing more takes less work

Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, offers some amazing insights. One insight is this: once you train your brain to do something, you can do that task faster, and with a lot less effort.

Duhigg tells the story of scientists researching what happened to rats which were running a maze. At first, when the rats were unfamiliar with the maze, the rats’ brains lit up completely, all over. The rats were working hard to learn the maze. But things changed once the rats had learned the maze.

As each rat leaned how to navigate the maze, its mental activity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less.

It turns out that brains (both rats and human) like to create routines, and habits. These habits are then replayed automatically, using a lot less brainpower and energy.

That’s the reason that you can drive, and arrive somewhere, with no memory of the journey. Your brain has formed a routine for driving that route. It’s become a habit — you no longer need to think about it.

If you want to write more, aim to write every day. Sit down in the same place, at the same time, and write. This routine may seem a challenge initially, but when it becomes a habit, it will be automatic, and not like “work” at all.

2. Make your available time work for you

Writers who’ve gone full-time, and still find consistent writing a challenge, often say that they were more productive when they had a day job.

When you’ve got hours of time, it’s tempting to think “later.”

Whatever time you have to write each day, sit down and write. Ten minutes is enough time — you don’t need to wait until you can spend an hour or two hours writing.

Pack a little writing kit: a notepad and pen. Or write on your phone. Writing in small amounts of time is a habit too, so train yourself to do it until it becomes automatic.

3. Enthusiasm makes writing more possible

When you’re enthusiastic about your writing, it’s easier to sit down and do it.

Enthusiasm tends to ebb and flow. You’re enthusiastic about a project when it’s new. Over time, doubts set in. Enthusiasm fades.

At those times, try to regenerate your enthusiasm. If you’re tired, take a day off. Try approaching your writing in a new way: if you’re writing fiction, write from a different Point of View. If nonfiction, do a little more research.

It’s worth firing your enthusiasm, because enthusiasm brings creativity with it.

Writing more: a habit YOU can develop

Willpower takes energy. Instead of forcing yourself, trying building a writing habit. Once daily writing becomes a habit, you’ll automatically write more.

Try it in 2019 — and Happy New year. 🙂

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

More info →
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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.