Friday, 6 December 2013

Writing Update & Why Episodic Stories?

I just wanted to leave an update here on my writing. Previously, I'd talked about showing my writing today. While it could still happen, the possibility is very slim. Currently, I have 1,130 words written in rough form and as I expect it to be short story length ('episode 1' of a new project), I hope it won't  take too long at all to write and then edit once it's written and I'm happy with the content. The editing, as long as I'm happy with the content, really doesn't take long. It might go against what others say about writing, but I write pretty clean rough drafts at least far as grammar and spelling mistakes are concerned.

This brings me to the good news. I'm going to be working hard, non-stop, to get this project out the door even if I'm not fully happy with it (please keep reading here before you throw up your hands in anger and think I'm another self-publisher who doesn't care about their work's quality). I'm unemployed, so I can spend pretty much the entire day writing and editing. Now that I've definitely realised that I can't keep on like this and be too much of a perfectionist if I want to have a writing career and earn a living, because believe me when I say my financial situation is dire and that I've been depressed of late, you can expect stories to be released from me regularly. Best of all? They'll be free, at least until the story's completed. At that point, I'll likely take the stories down a few days after or just leave a few sample episodes up. The only thing that'll hold me back from writing and editing is playing the odd game likely in the evening, reading and reviewing one book which I've promised to do, and spending time with my dad (watching Netflix as it's pretty much the only thing we do as sad as that sounds) as he's not well of late.

So, the free writing I'm going to be letting people read and what did I mean by 'episode 1' and 'episodic stories'? As well as 'please keep reading here before assuming the worst'?

First up, episodic writing. Think of episodic/serial stories as being like a TV show. You get a chunk of a story, then you get some more of the story a few days later. As I believe I'm a short story specialist, writing stories like they're a TV show will work out well for me I think (don't assume this means cliffhangers every 'episode', though some may have a cliffhanger). What it'll allow me to do is tell self-contained stories, while adding to the overall story arc with each episode as characters and events carry over. It should be a tight way of telling a story too, with plenty of individual ones, without needing a thick tome to do it. Now, before I continue, I've been looking into serial/episodic writing, in particular the writing of Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright, and from what I can make out, they like to leave cliffhangers at the end of a season and episode to entice you to read the next book. While that may work for them, it's not something I have any interest in doing. Despite needing all the help I can get financially speaking, I'm not going to compromise my values and attempt to get every penny that I can out of people (I'm not saying they do that, by the way, but it's just that if I did that, that's how I'd feel). So, when I say a story is complete, there may be the odd question that people have but the story arc for that particular book/story will be complete. That doesn't mean I won't be able to do a 'second season' if I want to, but it does mean that if you only want to read the one story, I want you to be able to read it and not feel like you have to read the next story. In other words, you'll feel like you've spent your time well with a story because there was a satisfying ending. It also means that I don't have to feel pressured to deliver a sequel.

Now, time-frame for each episode to be delivered? I want to say episodes published weekly, but I'm not going to. To avoid disappointment, I'm going to say that I could release more than one episode a week or it could take me longer than a week to deliver an episode (they'll be of varying length at the end of the day and I may get stuck etc.). Also, I have a few ideas for stories at the minute, so it is possible that I'll be posting episodes of different stories online before one entire story is complete.

Right, so aside from thinking I could do a good job with episodic writing, why have I chosen to go this route? And this comes back to what I said above about reading the entire thing (as long winded as it is). I self-edit everything these days, started with Gus (which didn't turn out bad at all I reckon), and I don't have beta-readers because no-one here is able to help me with my writing. I could ask writer friends, I guess, but I don't like bothering people. By writing episodic stories and making them freely available for people to read, I can post work I'm not 100% sure about and get feedback on it without feeling bad because I've not asked anyone to give me feedback or to pay to read it. In a way, look at it as a collaborative effort between me and you, potential readers, as well. While I have specific aims with the stories I write and may not listen to feedback, it doesn't hurt to give it and it might alert me to things I need to change before I start charging. Also, if people tell me that they want specific things in and I can include it without compromising what I want for a story? Then I'll be most happy to do so. In addition, I'll be able to read feedback and possibly use it to shape the direction of future episodes for any given story. I probably won't change the content of a 'published' episode, unless there's a good reason for it, but I can definitely take on board what people say for episodes that are to be written.

Now, you might be wondering why I've chosen to make my writing free until it's completed if I really need the money. You're quite right to ask the question of 'if I can read his writing for free, why should I pay for it once it's done?' The answer is simple. I know people will read my work without paying and possibly steal it, but I'm also going to hope that there are people out there who will do the right thing and pay for something they've enjoyed, assuming that people do like my writing. I'll also be counting on others to spread the word about my episodic stories (once I've started to release them, and again, I expect to release the first one soon), because to be frank, I have no ability to make others aware of my writing. My sales have been around 11 - 13 sales across both short stories that I've published in the 8 - 9 months since I first started publishing. So, the way I look at it, I've got nothing to lose posting my work for free and it's the only way I know of to make aware of my writing because I don't think people are as likely to turn their noses up at free writing. Besides, doing what I was doing even while I was posting on Facebook and such, didn't really do much to help me out anyway.

Now, as for where I'll be posting these episodes, they'll be posted on my blog here (also on Goodreads because my blog posts are automatically posted there and apologies in advance if the formatting is screwed up there) and I've decided that I'm going to try and make use of Wattpad. In all honesty, Wattpad seems suited to episodic writing, so it might be best to read my writing there. I'll give links when the time comes anyway.

And before I end this rather long-winded post, I wanted to quickly talk about the story I'm working on at the minute (currently called The Deadlands). A preview if you will. Basically, it's set in a world that's quite barren after an event had caused many people to die. Creatures roam the land and there is magic involved. At least that's the current plan anyway, which could change, but just know that it's about a post-apocalyptic world and you won't be disappointed. It's quite similar to our own world too in terms of having gas stations, computers etc., though those things would be rather minimal in a post-apocalyptic world even if they still exist. Basically, it's our world but it's not. It gives me creative license with things. It will also be adult in nature due to the content and the focus, right now, will be on people, relationships etc. and power struggles. The creatures and such, again right now, I'm not planning on having a big part in it. Currently, I'm planning on limiting the focus to a shanty town out in the middle of nowhere which is basically a place where trouble is brewing under the surface.

So, in closing, look for the first episode to be made freely available in the near future (again, I'm not too bothered about showing something that's not 100% perfect with not charging people money and I will fix things up before I do if there are issues), and please do support me by spreading the word.

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