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Friday, February 3, 2012

It Comes In Doses by Michael Shean

Please help me welcome author of the serialised novel, Bone Wires, Michael Shean!

A word about serials.  Or bear wrestling, really, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

When I first decided to start writing novels as a self-published author, I was really crunching ideas as to how to get traffic to my site, interest in my books, and all those other things that indies do to combat the horrible beast that is The Need for Self-Promotion.  I ended up settling on writing short pieces on my website, flash fiction and entire short stories - but the possibility of writing a serialized novel had swirled in my head long after Shadow of a Dead Star launched.  So when I started chatting with Curiosity Quills about the possibility of publishing some form of material in affiliation with their budding brand, I thought, why not give it a shot?  I’d written shorts and a full novel already, and my brain won’t leave me the hell alone on a day-to-day basis - thus was Bone Wires born.

There are two things I’ll say to anyone wanting to give serial fiction a shot.  First of all, if you’re not going to write the whole thing before cutting it up and unleashing it on the public, you have to really, really love your story.  And by that I mean the core of it - I didn’t write all of Bone Wires before it started being serialized, and I had to make sure that I enjoyed the primary characters well enough that I would move the story forward on a weekly basis.  If you don’t like your characters, the story becomes torture and I guarantee you that you will drop that sucker like it’s hot (which leads you to additional trouble as you end up looking bad to your readers.)  Please make sure you’re ready to commit to this.  If you aren’t, and you’re not writing something very short, you’re going to end up drinking yourself into a stupor and coasting toward suicide before the project’s done.

Well, I’m exaggerating, but you’re going to wish you were at least doing the heavy drinking.

Second of all, this is probably the most rewarding experience I’ve had yet as an author.  I like a challenge, and as a person I don’t shy away from conflict.  This has satisfied both conditions.  Imagine wrestling a bear who has probably drunk all the whiskey reserved for the first point and wants to destroy you by rolling you down a hill until you’re pulverized into jelly.  Now set that bear on fire.  This is what trying to write a serial novel every week can be like, especially if you have any kind of a work life like I do - that is, one that keeps you away from the keyboard twelve to thirteen hours a day.  You’ll likely feel like you’re being physically punished by writing this story in doses every week, but when it’s done, out, and people love it, you’re going to feel like a big damned hero.  You will also think to yourself something like fuck you, bear, I’m ready for another round.  I’m sure there’s a point about the masochistic, self-destructive nature of the human spirit in there, but let’s ignore it in favor of the awesome.

On top of the elation you feel by taking a sledgehammer to said flaming bear of mortal challenge, it’s an excellent exercise for your creative muscles.  You’re forced to create and think on the spot, especially if you don’t have time to do a lot of writing - like walking a tightrope without a net, the audience expects something awesome.  You have to deliver on that, and in doing so you’ll be developing the tools you need to deliver future awesome as well.  If I could bottle that experience, I wouldn’t be writing.  I’d be pulling the old Scrooge McDuck in my own personal money bin at home.

So in short, I love serials.  I’ll probably write at least another one after this, either through CQ or on my own website.  Sure, Bone Wires might be the bane of my existence sometimes, but it’s also been an incredibly rewarding project to work on - and continue to work on - as I write my other novels in the background.  That’s something else I’d forgotten to mention; nothing fixes the ‘oh God why am I still hammering on this same project’ doldrums like having a serial project to fall back on.  I recommend that you writers reading this strap on your crash helmet and your fireproof pads, and that you go out show and show the sonofabitch grizzly of challenge who’s boss.  It won’t kill you and you’ll have everything to show for it, including a regular sense of accomplishment and feedback from your readers.  Bear wrestling never looked so good!

Michael Shean is an author of hard-edged detective Sci-Fi, living in the DC area with his wife and over-sized cats. The first novel of his Wonderland series, Shadow of a Dead Star is published by Curiosity Quills Press with its offshoot, Bone Wires serialized every week on the Curiosity Quills website.

You can find Michael at: His blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

This post is part of the Curiosity Quills Blog Tour 2012

Curiosity Quills is a gaggle of literary marauders with a bone to grind and not enough time for revisions - a collective, creating together, supporting each other, and putting out the best darn tootin’ words this side of Google.

Curiosity Quills also runs Curiosity Quills Press, an independent publisher committed to bringing top-quality fiction to the wider world. They publish in ebook, print, as well as serialising select works of their published authors for free on the press's website.

1 comment:

  1. That was awesome. I love the flaming drunken bear of death hill tumbling metaphor! :)

    Anytime I can sit at my desk and giggle like a fool is a good time.


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