I have finished the final instalment of my PF serial and I thought it might be interesting for others to read about how I have found the experience.
As most of you know, I write short stories for magazines but up until a few months ago, had written nothing longer than 4000 words. Well, one of my goals for last year, was to write a serial - actually write one not just talk about it. So you can imagine how pleased I was when the editor I work with at PF said that he thought I was ready to try something longer. The only problem was, I didn't have any ideas - not for anything longer anyway. The more I though about it, the more the ideas eluded me. Then one day, I was writing a short story and it just seemed to get longer and longer and I realised there was too much story to tell in even a longer short story.
The problem was, I needed to send in a synopsis of the whole thing - aaagh! I don't plan - never have - but this time I knew I would have to. What I did was to do as much research as I could (my story is set in WW2) and make each factual event into a scene around which my characters could revolve. I then used a fantastic mind-mapping tool called Total Recall (you can read my blog post about it here) to group these into instalments.
The idea was to write a three instalment serial but by the time I had finished it had grown to five!
So what have I learnt about writing a PF serial.
- Scenes can be much more detailed than in short stories.
- You can have more that one POV (three or four). Pick your three strongest characters and tell the story through them but let your main character shine through.
- Scenes with minor characters don't have to be written from a particular viewpoint.
- Keep the pace up throughout and end each instalment with exciting cliffhangers.
- Weigh your story more towards your female characters.
- Work closely with your editor and take their advice - they know their readers much better that you do!
I know I have mentioned it before, but if you are thinking of having a go at writing serials yourself, you should have a read of Cara Cooper's posts on the subject here. It was reading these that made me get off my backside and do it!
I've enjoyed writing my serial and will be sad to not be living with my characters any more but never mind, I've written and subbed the first instalment of a new one... so who knows?