Losing My Serial Writing Virginity by Victoria Walters
When Simon & Schuster asked me to write a serial for them, I was excited to try a new writing challenge but then I saw the deadlines when I had to write it by, and I was slightly daunted too. Whenever I’ve written a novel before, I have written a whole first draft and then gone back to the beginning to edit it but there was no time to do it that way this time. I had to write Random Acts of Kindness a part at a time, and that was an entirely different way of working for me.
The first thing I did was to write a synopsis. I hate writing synopses! It’s so hard to write out a plot of a book without it sounding boring, and usually I tend to wing it when I write. I start with a premise, my characters and a vague idea of how I want the book to end then I just sit down at the laptop to write but there was no way I could do that with this serial. Each part needed to be 25,000 words and that’s a lot to write in a month, which is about how long I had to do each part, so I needed to be far more disciplined than I had with my writing before. I wrote a detailed synopsis so that I would know what needed to happen in each part and how each one would finish. I knew that there needed to be a more definite ending to each part than you’d have in a typical novel, a cliff-hanger if you like, to hopefully make readers eager to read the next part but also feel satisfied by the one they had just read too. I also read serials by Cathy Bramley, Holly Hepburn and Cressida McLaughlin to do some research and actually Cressida gave me some great tips over email as well.
The biggest challenge for me was that I didn’t have the opportunity to go back and edit the earlier parts once I got to the end of the story. I was worried about writing myself into a plot corner or that I would suddenly have a great idea but couldn’t add it because the beginning of the book had already been written. The first part was published before I had finished writing the end, which made me nervous but actually, it all worked out perfectly. Because I had planned the story out, I got to the end without wishing that I could change the beginning. I also had to make sure to add a summary of the previous part as readers would have a long gap between reading each part and might forget what had happened but to write that within the story so it flowed well – not like the ‘previously on…’ voiceover at the start of new episodes of TV shows. It was tricky to get that just right.
Writing Random Acts of Kindness was really enjoyable. I loved my characters and that meant once I started writing, the nerves faded and the story just took over. It flowed easily and because I had a plan, I didn’t get too stuck. The deadlines were tight especially when it came to editing but I work fairly quickly so it didn’t cause too much stress apart from my editor asking me to get one part to her in a couple of days when I was struck down by a stinking cold!
I have loved reading reviews of the story as it has been released as well. It’s been fun to see what readers like about the story and the characters, and find out what they are hoping will happen next. Getting feedback much earlier than you do when you publish a whole novel is lovely because it spurs you on, knowing that people are enjoying the story, it makes you want to get the ending just right for them. Three parts have been published so far and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks when they reach the end of the book. I feel far more confident with writing a serial now and I’m eager to get started on the next one!
Part 1 of Random Acts of Kindness – Promises – is available to download for FREE here.
Part 4 – New Adventures – is available to pre-order now and publishes on 4th June.