Feedback Friday!

Posted: August 30, 2013 in Feedback Friday
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Welcome to Feedback Friday! I know, there isn’t much to offer feedback on yet – but there will be! Chapter One goes up in 2 days, at which point I’m looking forward to hearing what you think. For now, though, I’m going to talk a little bit about what a serial is, how it works, why I’m publishing online for free, and a few other things. I’ll also offer a book recommendation at the end, because god I love those; if the rest of this bores you, feel free to scroll down and find that.

So. You may already know what a serial is, but for those who don’t, I’ll briefly explain: a serial is a work, usually novel-length but not always, that’s offered in weekly installments. They used to be pretty popular in magazines and newspapers, and now that blogs are everywhere it’s easier to put one out there; there’s an entire website, TuesdaySerial, dedicated to finding and sharing the latest serials that are available.

As to how writing a serial works, there are two ways. One: the author writes the entire work, from start to finish, and then offers it up in pieces, adhering to the serial model. There’s some debate as to whether work made that way should really be called a serial; a lot of people who write serials would prefer to call what I’ve just described a serialized novel instead, to differentiate between the two. I personally think the difference is important to note and remember, because true serials are written on deadline, and they’re hella hard when it comes to workload. Which brings me to Two: the author writes a chapter (or section, or whatever it is they’re putting together for their installments), edits it (hopefully) and publishes it immediately. They could front-load some of the work and have a few chapters in the hole, ready for publication, but odds are that at some point in the process they’re typing furiously at 11:30pm, trying to get that entry finished for the promised publication date.

I’m writing Love in the ZA the second way. I have the first 3 chapters edited and in the hole, and part of chapter 4 roughly written, but the entire work is not complete. I have an outline, where I have written down a vague idea of what’s going to happen, but I have no idea how it ends, or how we get from point E to point O, or any number of things that I would have figured out were I working with a completed manuscript. That, I think, is part of the fun in writing a serial like this: I have no idea what’s going to happen until I sit down and write it, so it’s a surprise for me as much as for you. It’s also, however, what makes this so damn hard: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. I might get to chapter 15 and realize that oh no, I killed off somebody who I actually really needed and replaced them with a useless character I hate. Too bad, so sad. There’s a definite risk of suckage here, is what I’m saying. I certainly hope that doesn’t happen, or that if it does I manage to finesse my way out of any painted corners, but we’ll have to wait and see.

(I should also say, since I just admitted that I have a few chapters finished and won’t be forced into writing on deadline at the outset, that I am sticking to the spirit of the law, if not the letter: I have not and will not go back and edit those completed chapters, using knowledge I’ve gained by writing ahead, to make them better or different. They are what they are, and at this point I’m pretending that they’re no longer available for me to fiddle with.)

Now we get to the question: Why are you giving your work away for free? It’s not like what I’ve written has been pulled out of my ass; you may end up hating it but rest assured, a lot of time and effort went into it (50+ hours as of right now). Why, then, just put it out there and not expect anything in return? Artists hate when other artists do that; they argue that it devalues all of our work. I don’t necessarily disagree with that – I’ve seen what some people are offering to pay for writing jobs these days, and they make it pretty obvious that they don’t think writing is worth much. Don’t send me hate mail; I get it.

There are a couple reasons I’m doing this the way that I am. For one, the market is pretty saturated with zombie-related stuff right now; by the time I come up with a completed manuscript and go to secure an agent or publisher, we’ll be (I suspect) on the ass-end of the fad. Odds aren’t great for the work going anywhere, and while I’m certainly having a ton of fun writing this, I want people to READ it. That is, after all, the point of writing anything. Did you read it? Did you like it? Did you tell somebody else about it? Hooray, you just made my day. Mission Accomplished.

The second reason, and maybe the biggest one for me right now, is that I want this to STAY fun. I’m a full-time student; I have a horde of kids for whom I am the primary caregiver. I enjoy writing, and I want to continue to enjoy it. I want to write a story that I genuinely like spending time on, I want to let it go off in a thousand different directions if that’s what it wants to do, I want to be able to say “Hey, who do you think should die, Character A or Character B” and then DO THAT, just because I put it out there and said I’d listen to the response. You can’t do that when you’re writing a novel the traditional way, or when you’re worried about what an editor will have to say about what you’ve done. I want to play, and I want you to play with me.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

The book I’m going to recommend today is one that I originally read online for free, but for a variety of reasons better explained by the author is only available through Amazon right now, for 2.99. (Prime members can borrow for free!) Abigail Barnette’s The Boss is an erotic romance (heavy emphasis on the “erotic” part of that – there’s a lot of sex, and it’s BDSM-themed, so buyer beware); Barnette’s real-life counterpart, Jenny Trout, was inspired to write it after reading – and ripping on – 50 Shades of Grey. (If you’re unfamiliar with Jenny’s 50 Shades recaps, I highly recommend them. She’s hilarious.) I really enjoyed it: the main character is realistic, the sex scenes are well-written (although not quite my cup of tea) and I found the storyline outside the bedroom interesting. There’s a sequel, The Girlfriend, that you might want to check out if you find you like the first one. That one was a little too much for me, sex-wise, but again, the story is good. So give those a whirl.

(Disclaimer: I don’t know the author personally, and have no stake in whether you buy/read her books or not. Any and all book recommendations are going to be mentioned here solely because I enjoyed them. Just sayin’.)

I guess that’s it for Feedback Friday this week. I look forward to hearing from you, either about something I said today or about what you read this Sunday. Or, hell, tell me if you read either of the books I told you about and liked ‘em (or didn’t, that’s cool too). You can comment here; you can e-mail me (lizvlake@gmail.com); hit me up on my Facebook (Elizabeth Lake) or Twitter (@lizz_lake). Although, please, be patient with me on Twitter; I still haven’t figured that shit out 100%. I’m working on it.

See you Sunday!

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