Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Part of This Complete Breakfast

Ever since I first starting watching, of all things, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I've been attracted to the idea of writing serialized (get it? serialized... cereal? cerealized? breakfast? I'm hilarious) fiction.

Let's be good and define our terms, shall we? By serialized fiction, I mean anything produced and released over time, in sections. Comic books, television, radio, and podcast all count. However, I don't mean anything that is finished ahead of time and then released over time. As you will see below, that doesn't interest me nearly as much.

So, now that we know what we're talking about, what is it about serialized fiction that attracts me? Or rather, what is it about me that's attracted to serialized fiction?

The first is the length of it. If you haven't guessed so far, I have the uneasy honor of being a real novel man. Oh, I can write short stories if I put my mind to it, but I don't find it nearly as much fun as writing something with length. So, I suppose it's rather inevitable that I would enjoy writing something that could be, all told, many, many times the length of a normal novel.

Secondly, I am nothing if not impatient. This is sharply at odds with the above - I like writing long stuff, but I don't like waiting for it to be done. I want to know if it's any good, I want to know what you think of it. I want to see it in print (or what passes for it when you're self-publishing, for free, on the internet). Most of all, I want it now. Thus, the idea of writing something that is both extremely long and also provides immediate gratification is also very attractive.

Thirdly, I'm not one of those writers who gets too stressed about the 'purity of my art' versus the 'demands of the public.' At this point, I'd be too pleased to have a public in the first place to complain about their demands. In fact, I'd welcome a format that lets me interact with fans. I'd love to read comments from readers and incorporate their ideas or defy their expactations in exciting ways. This might be a little of my inner gamer showing; it would be kind of like me getting to run a game for all of you.

Finally, I relish the idea of collaboration. I write best when I have limitations to help me structure my thoughts. Often these limitations are self-imposed ("you're interested in urban fantasy modern noir, huh? Ok, do that!") but it's more exciting when they come from somewhere else. A lot of serialized fiction (TV writing included) comes with coworkers. I say, that sounds like fun.

A little of it also comes from my history. I have always been fond of comic books (though I've never collected them, unlike our next president - Conan the Barbarian? Spider Man, I get, but Conan! You're kidding me. Crazy!). I don't watch much TV these days, or even own one that's more than a glorified DVD player, but I keep up with Heroes and Lost thanks to the magic of the internet. And when I was a kid, I loved Star Trek (Original, Next Generation, and Deep Space 9 - Voyager and Enterprise lost me), Quantum Leap, Forever Knight, Hercules, and Xena (yes, Xena: Warrior Princess. Deal). My impetus to write has always been a desire to produce the same sort of stuff I like to consume, so it is it any wonder I eventually came around to the idea of producing serialized fiction of my own?

Where is there some great free serialized fiction on the internet?

There are a couple of great blogs and podcasts right over there to the right, in my blogroll. The first is Wormwood, an old-fashioned radio play-style podcast telling a story of Lovecraftian horror and modern noir-style mystery set in Southern California. I have to admit that Season Two isn't quite as good as Season One was, but there's evidence that the situation is improving, and even at its worst, it's still compelling and interesting.

Up next is Paper and Dice, which I put second only because I don't know for sure if Montgomery Mullen's stuff is written ahead of time or not. Either way, it's good. He recently finished a novel that I haven't read yet and started something new that I am eagerly keeping up with, about zombie alchemists who raid battlefields for the parts to make new zombie alchemists. It's better than it sounds, I swear. Actually, that sounds pretty awesome.

The last place I suggest you go is (of course) Mur Lafferty's I Should Be Writing. ISBW itself is not serialized fiction - it's an awesome podcast about writing, for writers, by a writer - but Mur is a near-goddess of the internet writing scene, and there is a ton of awesome stuff linked off the ISBW site. She herself has written and released no few serialized stories (most of them, I believe, in podcasts) all of which can be found in links on her site.

Am I going to actually write that serialized fiction idea of mine? After all, I'm clearly getting into the wide world of linear internet self-publishing (what's next? The Burning Zeppelin Podcast? Not bloody likely). Am I going to linearly publish my own serialized fiction?

Probably not. At least, not right away. I'd probably consider jumping on the wagon if the right collaboration offer came along, but right now I have enough to do with the projects I'm currently working on. In the meantime, though, I can dream.

And also read.

* * *

  • Have you ever been involved in creating serialized fiction? How did it go? What were the rewards, and what challenges did you face?
  • This one's simple: help me feed my furnace! Post links to some of your favorite internet serials.


Montgomery Mullen said...

Hi there!

Thank you for praising my little series so far, I hope it continues to impress.

For the record, though I have the basic story mapped out, I rarely have an entry for 'Alchemical Marriage' done more than a day in advance. It's an exercise in diligence. Another one is falling together today.

I don't tend to read a lot of serialized fiction in general, but if I come across something good I'll let you know.

Incidentally, regarding the story-telling competition concepts you go over, have you read the Finnish national epic, Kalevala? If not, you might want to give it a look. There's some fine inspiration to be found there.

Anonymous said...

I've never read Kalevala, but thanks for the heads up. I'll look for it when I'm ready to fire my brain up to finish The Storyteller... or maybe before then, for the hell of it. I'll let you know.