It seems my brain is still in Author Aerobic’s mode even though the exercises are on hiatus. I’ve been thinking about what I can learn from writing serial fiction.
Every form of fiction presents unique challenges. With ‘flash fiction’, you’re forced to condense a story into the minimum of words. This often means stripping out extra characters, crafting sentences that work on multiple levels, and focusing on only a single scene.
I’m finding that serial flash presents a different set of challenges:
- Building suspense. There must be something that brings you back to read the next installment, some kind of mystery and tension, that makes you wonder what’s coming next.
- Adding in foreshadowing. I have to keep my eye on the larger story arc, and make sure to reveal information little by little so that the ending follows naturally, but remains a surprise.
- Figuring out where to begin and end each part. Some people will not come to the story at the beginning. Not everyone will read each installment. I have to find some way to ensure that every part of the story has a sense of completeness.
I’m finding that the process so far has been wonderful exercise in editing. I’ve been forced to break down a larger story (already written) scene by scene, with my mind on upping the conflict, foreshadowing, and suspense. I think that if I treat each scene like flash, the writing will also be tighter and more focused. I don’t know if I will be successful in all this, but I hope so.
When I was a kid, I remember the local newspaper used to run a weekly serial story. I’d clip each story out, and paste it into a notebook. It was a murder mystery and I couldn’t wait until the next installment. I wonder what happened to my collection? The paper got rid of the fiction a long time ago…
Do you enjoy serial fiction? Do you have any fond memories of it? If you write serial fiction, what’s the biggest challenge you face while writing?