©When we write fiction, we should be writing in the first instance, for ourselves. That is part of the joy of writing. Our story comes from an inspired thought or feeling we experienced in a scene we were involved in, in real life, or while daydreaming. That small spark turns into a whisp of smoke until the fire within us bursts into flame, and the fingers flow across the keyboard, capturing all we see and imagine in our mind's eye. We are afraid to stop for fear of losing touch with the plot. Sometimes the fire goes out, and we put the story to one side. But when the plot develops more we become obsessed and protective of our work. When published, we look forward to favourable critiques although there will always be those that disappoint. The good writer should always appreciate good and bad. Readers have given their opinion, and it is up to the writer to decide what critical comments are a help in identifying weaknesses in the work so that in future, those shortfalls can be addressed. Indeed, as writers, we should appreciate the big part that readers play in helping us develop style and plot construction.
With this in mind, we can apply the same thoughts and comments about serial writing but with one big difference. There are up to nine other writers involved in serial writing, and there are several unique rules we have to observe to present a flowing storyline. It is very easy to write 500 words and develop the story, but it is equally hard to do so taking into account continuity and character traits and language, not to forget tense. Just one chapter written out of sync will throw the whole serial into chaos and the work of the other nine writers, however good, will be destined for a slush pile and forgotten. Harsh words but this lesson learned early by all writers of serials is the key to success. That is why serial writing is one of the quickest ways to improve one’s skills. The writer has to think about the previous chapters as well as the writer who will be following. It is not good enough to write a great chapter if there are flaws in continuity. The emphasis is on teamwork so that we produce stories that are professional and exciting enough to be published.
Before we publish, an editor must go through the work to ensure what is known as a good copy; that there is continuity and good grammar and that the work is commercially viable. Editors and publishers are professionals who are constantly in tune with the literary market. They might send a book back for a complete re-write or at least, a lot of changes in any aspects of the plot or background story. This is where we have to learn patience and respect those who know better. That does not mean they do not like your work – quite the reverse. The more work they see as necessary normally means they are looking at potential and are willing you on with a red pen.
When you release your work to the big wide world, you are giving a gift. It is a gift, if produced and published properly, that will be read for many years. Don’t be in such a hurry to ‘get it out there,’ but learn your craft slowly and make sure the whole experience of producing a book as a solo or as part of a writing team is a joyful marker on the road to success. ©