Friday, January 22, 2010

Writing a serial story: YIELD TO ME

I said I'd post about my experience of writing a Harlequin online read, and now that YIELD TO ME has gone in I can take a deep breath and think about it.

It was quite an experience writing this kind of project! I expected it to be a big challenge, and it was. I learned a huge amount along the way. The good news is the comissioning editor thought it was a terrific read and didn't want any revisions. That was a big relief. I was working so close to it that even when my lovely CP reassured me, I wasn't sure if I'd pulled it off.

Partly the challenge was down to the unusual format. It had to be 8 chapters of between 1,000 and 1,300 words, so the writing had to be tight whilst also moving the story forward at a fast pace. I surely learned how to tighten up my work...

When writing a chapter in a novel or a novella, an author can usually take it to its natural conclusion, and that might be a whole heap of words more or less than the last chapter. With the serial story it had to be spot-on. I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in each of the chapters, and my writing experience went a bit like this: I’d be merrily writing away and then realise that there wasn’t going to be room for some of the details or description I would naturally have included had it been a novella or a novel. (The guidelines warned about this, but still...I had to go through it in order to learn.) As a result, my word count kept going up and down like a yoyo, throughout. I think I probably wrote around 30,000 words during the process of reaching a final 10,000! :o)

The other major challenge I had was because I’d opted to write the story about two secondary characters who appear in RAMPANT. They are key characters—-by that I mean everything that happens in RAMPANT is because of them and their relationship. The serial is about their initial meetings, so I was writing even further back into time than I had with RAMPANT. I had to cross reference details, but also be sure that the serial worked as a stand alone.

The chapters will be uploaded for reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so one of the main requirements was to have an appealing chapter hook at the end of each chapter, and then a brief update at the start of each chapter to quickly remind readers what had gone before.

YIELD TO ME will function as a stand-alone serial read, but it could also read as a kind of background prologue to RAMPANT. Either way, I hope readers will enjoy the end result. It’ll be online as a free read during March. Fingers crossed!

Click on the link below for the online read library. There's a new Spice story there by Megan Hart!

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