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Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Terrors of a Killer Serial

That's right: "killer serial," not "serial killer."

I just finished serializing the second installment of The Papers of Victoria Frankenstein, a YA novel that I'd begun on March 10, 1998, and then, at some point on the later calendar, had abandoned. I think it was probably because I'd gone back to teach at Western Reserve Academy in the fall of 2001, but it may have been earlier than that.

At the point I quit writing, Vickie and Gil had just scored well at the science fair and had learned they were going to get to go to Niagara Falls--a place Gil had long dreamed of seeing (we find out why, too). I had only about 90 pages of typescript at that point.

About a year ago I serialized the first volume of Vickie's Papers (I finished the serialization on May 1, 2013), but there was a difference: I'd already completed that YA novel some years ago, and so the thrice-weekly installments were just a matter of editing previously written text. A hassle (and some pressure)--but nothing like what I just made myself do.

The final version of Victoria that I just finished posting is 221 pages long. That means that I had to compose about 130 pages of new material. And the results prove the folly of doing something like that--at least for the likes of me. (Charles Dickens, by comparison, was sometimes serializing two novels simultaneously! No, I am not Charles Dickens, nor was meant to be.) The whole thing gave me a profound new respect for those nineteenth-century folks who had the courage and the genius to serialize--Dickens, Trollope, Collins, et al.

When Stephen King was serializing The Green Mile (six installments in 1996), he said he would never do it again because (a rough quote) "it gives the critics six chances to kick your ass." Wise words.

Anyway, the last couple of months I've had to create the story as I was going along, and I guess the thing I'm most proud of is that I didn't skip any installments.

But I probably should have. I made quite a few mistakes--of all sorts. I set up things that I never finished; I goofed on geography; I forgot about characters; and on and on.

I'm going to start revising V2 now, though, and when it's in better shape, I'll publish it on Kindle Direct, where it will join the first volume.

And pretty soon I'll start writing the third (and final) volume of Vickie's story. I have notes for it. But I'm going to wait till I have quite a bit of it ready before I start posting it. (Lesson learned ... sort of ... as you'll see.)

In the meantime, I have another nearly-finished-book that I'll begin serializing next week. And I'll tell you about it next time ...

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