I belong to a prompt community. I joined, oh, four years ago or so with the idea that I’d be able to use the prompts to stir the creative juices. It hasn’t really worked out. Oh, it’s not the community’s fault. They are awesome, talented writers and the prompts are usually very interesting. Something about the medium just doesn’t work for me.
Oh, sure, sometimes a prompt jolts something out of the creative centers of my brain. When I joined originally, you had to post once every three months to stay a member, and I could usually manage something in that time frame. But a few years ago they changed the requirement to once a month, and I knew the likelihood of ye olde brain coming up with something purely prompt based that often was pushing it.
(This is not to say that I have problems with ideas. If anything, there are too many ideas floating around. They just tend to be novel-shaped.)
So I decided to work on a serial novel, with a new part going up every month (or more often if I got around to it). I’d already completed Hidden Worlds serially, so I knew it was something that I could do.
Two years later, I’m still working on that story. I use the prompts to direct the next part, and feedback has generally been very good.
I outline very vaguely so this works well for me.
What does writing serially do for you? I use it as a side project which helps me get through harder sections of my main projects. It also allows you to work on something a relaxed pace and gain readers over time.
Things you should note about serial writing:
1. Do it consistently.
I put up a new section every month. This means my readers can expect a new section on a regular basis, that I know when it’s due so I’m thinking about/working on it when I should be, and that it doesn’t get eaten by other projects/life.
2. Outline, at least a little.
The thing with writing serially is that you need to have an idea where the story is going to go, what kind of story it is, what promises you want to make to your readers. What do you do if you get 25K in and realize you’ve written yourself in to a corner? Alternately, if you make it three-fourths of the way into the story and do a genre change out of right field, people will not be happy.
3. Reread the last few sections before picking back up.
This helps you remember where you are, what you named your characters, and what you were thinking when you left off.
Some publications are taking serial stories on now. If you’d like to try for one of those, you need to have the entire story at least outlined before submitting. They will not be as lenient as my prompt community if something goes off-kilter.
What about you, Squiders? Ever write something serially? What have your experiences been?