Serialized Writing


What is serialized writing? Basically, it’s when you write a novel that you deliver in pieces. There are several ways to go about “delivering” it. You could post it by chapter to a blog or even a mailing list of blog followers/friends.  You could publish mini e-books of a chapter/episode each. Some people will charge for these, others will “sell” them for free. It can be a great way to introduce people to your writing style.  If you were talented enough, or knew someone willing to help, you could even turn your writing into a webcomic. Also, don’t forget to look to submit to magazines as well, both print and e-zines.

Sound fun, no? I think so, BUT I think there are some things you need to do in order to be successful at serialized writing.

1) You have to have the story outlined. Well outlined. If you don’t know where you’re going, you may not get a chapter done and then you’re leaving your audience waiting and they may not remember to come back and check if you’ve got new work up.

2) If you want to do real serialization, each chapter should be a story in itself with a  beginning, middle and end.  Yet they must all build to the bigger picture. Think about serialized television. My favorite example: Doctor Who.  I’ve been watching the newer Who series (starting at the 2005 reboot) and I love love love how one can really come in to any episode and enjoy it without ever seeing any Who before (so long as it’s not the 2nd half of a two parter). As if that’s not good enough, the episodes reference prior incidents juuuuust enough to catch a viewers attention. Just enough to spark the curiosity that would make someone want to go back and see what happened. Then the show goes forward and even with losing and changing main characters, they don’t just forget those lost people because in real life, who would forget someone they had been with for years. That’s good writing.

3) If you can’t work a it to make each “chapter” into a episode (beginning, middle, end) then make sure your chapters end on cliff hanger. You need something to leave your readers wanting more.

Serializing can be a fun way for a writer to work up a fan base.  It will take some work though. It’s not something you can just jump into. Develop a schedule. Stick to it as much as you can. The more regular you are with it, the more likely you’ll be to have people coming back to read. Have a couple of chapters ready before you start so that you’re not racing the night before to write something that will end up being put up chock full of typos and mistakes. Promote yourself. Encourage fans to comment about what they think will happen. If you fancy yourself able, turn your writing into a choose your own adventure at times. Have readers vote on what they want to happen.  Make it even more interesting by adding art work: character sketches, photos, landscapes, etc.

Give it a try! In the end, you can put everything into one big book and offer that up to fans and new prospects alike.

/I feel compelled to say that my personal experience with serialized writing has been limited. My novel Tears of a Clown was a serialization of sorts.  If you have more info or feel the need to correct me on something I’ve said that is incorrect, please feel free!


6 responses »

  1. I’ve always wanted to serialize a novel and, in fact, that’s how LOVE BITES began – as a series of entries in the (now nonexistent) Creative Writing Challenge Game. I agree that it takes a great deal of preparation to successfully pull it off.

    • Yeah I’m not sure I could really work it out to perfection myself as I’m a pantser not a plotter, but I think it’d be fun to try 😀

  2. Yeah TOAC wasn’t meant to be serialized, but it kind of ended up that way with the cliff hanger chapters and posting them regularly on FB 😛 But if I was really going to do it, I’d have to write the whole book before posting the pieces 😛

  3. This article was very insightful. I’ve considered publishing a serialized novel for a while now, but I just don’t have the fan base to make it worth it. Will start planning one for the future though.

    • I definitely think you need to work up a bit of a fan base before..although people can always go back and read from the beginning. You need to talk it up, the idea, what it’s about, explain some characters, etc. Get people excited and then be sure to use social media to let people know when the posts go up, etc. You can do it! 🙂

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