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Serial Fiction vs Novel

March 20, 2013

Something I’ve noticed as K. Piet and I release our first serial: it’s difficult. XD Not the writing part. We’ve loved writing Immortal Symphony: Overture, and I can’t wait to start working on Immortal Symphony: Counterpoint. However, there is something to be said for readers having to take each piece as it is without advancing to the next immediately to gain full context of a character’s actions.

For example, several readers have disliked Gabriel in Episode 2, Life of the Party. And I understand that. Gabriel in that episode is doing everything his brother is telling him not to do. Hell, he’s doing everything his gut is telling him he shouldn’t do. For a guy who has never touched drugs before, let alone had sex in public, he does both in one night because of Dorian’s urging.

Dorian is a master manipulator. He’s had a long time to get really good at making people do what he wants them to do. Is this a good thing? No. It’s coercion. Although I wouldn’t say the scene at the party is rape–or even non-con–it does walk a line that might be uncomfortable for many readers. But, this is Dorian Gray’s world. It’s a world of vice and excess and debauchery. At the moment, K. and I haven’t revealed much of Dorian’s motivation or of his past, and that’s intentional. We want the reader to learn about Dorian as Gabriel does, offer small glimpses into a twisted man who, no matter how ‘good’ he tries to be, always ends up corrupting and using the ones he loves most.

You see, Episode 3 occurs immediately after Episode 2, and it deals with the aftermath of Gabriel’s choices. This was another intentional choice. We wanted readers to be uncomfortable at Gabriel’s actions. We wanted readers to shake their head at him and say, “What the hell are you thinking, boy?” And judging by the reviews (despite the lower ratings it’s been getting), we succeeded in that. This was the cliffhanger, the hero dangling off the cliff and losing his grip, the dramatic chord at the end of the soap opera scene telling us something unexpected just happened. 😉

For readers and reviewers unused to serial novels, this can be unsettling. They want to review each piece on its own merit and rate it accordingly, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I completely get it. 🙂 But in some cases, a scene that they didn’t care for or that didn’t make sense in the particular release might make more sense when taken in the larger context of the work. I’m going to be very interested in how well Episode 3 answers the concerns that readers and reviewers have raised about Episode 2, because the questions they’re asking are exactly the ones we wanted them to ask.

It’s just a very new experience for me. XD I’m so used to writing the novel, publishing it, and having the whole story judged in one fell swoop. It’s been a long time since I wrote fanfiction, which is episodic in nature, and so I’m trying to fall into the groove once more and just go with the flow.

Right now, Episode 3 is with my editor, though I know there will be substantive additions to the episode when it comes back to me. It was very short on length, and I needed some help with where to beef it up, what might be missing in the context of the episode. Episode 4 is just about done. K. and I should finish that today and send it off to our editor. I’ve also begun working on the bonus piece for Season Pass holders over on SMP. I’m very excited about that! I can’t believe the season is half over at this point in the writing. It’s exciting!

Once K. and I finish out Overture, I’m going to finish Human Rights and get that to my editor, and then K. and I are going to focus on writing Under the Strawberry Moon, which is a lesbian novella we’ve had planned for well over a year now. 😀

The serial is an interesting project, and I have no intention of abandoning it or not moving on to Counterpoint in 2014 (as the second season of Immortal Symphony will begin coming out in February 2014), and I’m enjoying the challenge of the serial in terms of writing, pacing, editing, and reviews. 🙂 I hope you’ll all stick with me through it!

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