Friday, 10 February 2012

Spare Parts (serial experiments)

I break my main flash fiction blog up into 'seasons', two a year. Not to suggest an overarching narrative, or connection, just to help me keep a sense of progression, a sense of where I am and where I've been.

The last season, the past six months, have actually had something of a theme... serials.

I wanted to branch out, experiment. It's one of the joys of flash fiction, you get to try out different styles and techniques. You get to play with form and function.

A little note on serials to begin with, as there are different approaches. There is the chopped up novel or short story, there is the ongoing write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants weekly serial and then there is the route I took, which was the short, pre-written serial. The distinction being that while they were written in advance, they weren't simply chopped up, but purposefully written in 'episodes' with cliffhangers and plot hooks, to be published weekly.

So, was the experiment a success?

Well... a moderate one.

Godstorm was my fantasy serial about a young god thrust into the politics of older gods. Kind of. (Part 1 - Clouds Like Murder). It was probably the most popular, but while it had a strong beginning and end it lacked much of a middle. It's something I want to expand when I have the chance.

Fifteen Feathers was a supernatural suspense serial. (Part 1) I think it was probably the most successful in a lot of ways. It was very (and purposefully) suited to the serial form. On the first day (episode) Katya receives five feathers, which inexplicably sends her mind spinning. The next day she receives four. Then three...

The countdown worked really well, built in natural cliffhangers, allowed each episode to be a day and let me reveal a few more details and build the character as I went along. I've had more than one request to release the full text as a straight up short, which will obviously lose some of the cliffhanger tension, but I plan to include it in my first anthology, hopefully (all going to plan) out in June.

Then I through in a couple of little'uns...

Haunted. A standalone. But... then it's not a serial, right? Well, technically not. But... wait! It was an introductory piece for my character in an ongoing wbtsoy-pants serial that I got asked to be a part of by a friend (which completely coincidentally came about as I was experimenting with serials).

That serial is a post-apocalyptic story called Dusk. It will get a full post of its own at some point, but for now, pop on over and give it a go. It's fun and slightly mad.

Black and White. A two part conceptual sci-fi. (part 1) I have mixed feelings about it... I love the first part; the second part is where the conceptual side comes in and it almost feels like a different beast. But I enjoyed writing it.

And then the biggie. As many parts as Godstorm and Fifteen Feathers together... The Dorothy Delusion. A near-future techno-thiller, with hints of Baum's Oz and multiple plot threads. (part 1)

The end reaction? Well, it's literally just finished, so... I can't really say. But for me, again, a mixed success. Definitely some positive comments, people like the characters, the pace, the fight scenes. But then because I was weaving multiple plots and much of it hinged on questioning characters' allegiances and motivations I know I lost a few people at certain points because reading it was dragged out over several months.

One twist was definitely too subtly set up for the serial form. Although it was only a page or two back, the hints appeared weeks before the reveal so it fell a little flat. But then... I learnt from that, and that was the point.

I hope people enjoy the conclusion, and ultimately I've enjoyed writing serials. Dusk continues, but I'm looking forward to going back to writing and publishing individual flashes. Ultimately I have a very short attention span and individual flash fictions suit that very well... ^_^

1 comment:

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