Astounding Things and Such

Category: Writing Blog Page 1 of 12

Breaking up is hard to do

Or, how am I supposed to break this book into bite-sized bits.

I had been uploading my book, The Bore of Babylon, Book One: Nate Blackpool, Time Pilot, to the site so I could get some eyes on it and some feedback. While I only made it to Chapter 6, I got a few eyes and no feedback, but I knew it would take time (the first three chapters are still available). The main point was for me to put my eyes on it again and get it ready to go into the world. I have a lot of stories lined up for Nate and Flah-psi, but letting this first one get dusty wasn’t going to stop the ideas from coming.

Then I heard about Amazon’s upcoming foray into serialized fiction, Vella. Right now it’s only going to be in the United States and, as far as the rumors are concerned, it looks like it will launch for Kindle mobile in the summer (but who knows). I thought this would be a good place to move Nate and get it into the larger publishing ecosystem.

Well, as of today, the first twenty episodes have been uploaded, five say they are “released” and no one except me can access them. In a way I’ve moved Nate and Flah-psi from one dusty drawer into another. I think there will be another 40 episodes in the story, but I’m holding out doing the labor of uploading until I know more about what Amazon will do.

In the meantime I am breaking the chapters up into ~600 word “episodes.” I think with the token structure Amazon is suggesting (1 token per 100 words), keeping my episodes near the minimum length of 600, lowers the barrier for readers and they don’t have to spend a lot to keep reading. At least in short stints. Overall it will be the same amount of tokens, but, for what it’s worth, my first three free episodes are twice that length.

As I’m working through the text, I’m finding places where I can split a chapter into two. Generally I try to end on a strong image or a cliffhanger, or even better, some provocative dialog (which, yes, is still a cliffhanger, but better!). Invariably I will have to add more to one half or cut from the other (usually add), and it’s been a challenge

When I have two smaller chapters with different POVs, combining them seems akin to head-hopping. I’ll be doing this with two short scenes for episodes 21 and 22. They are focused on minor, background characters as a way of setting up the “fish out of water” scenario and, with a good transition between the two, I think they can work. I may have to switch their order.

With longer scenes that I’m cleaving in twain, I’ve struggled to find places where I can add more description or internal monologue to a section to hit the 600-word mark. Six hundred words doesn’t sound like a lot, but I tend to write tight (too tight, some might say) and filling out details feels like padding. I want to make sure everything I add either adds to the characterization or propels the plot.

This is turning out to be a strange revision process, but I am enjoying it. Serialization wasn’t something I had intended, even as recently as when I was posting on this blog. Reworking the story for specific propulsion will help my writing in the long run, specifically with the Nate Blackpool series, as they are adventure, time travel, humor, and a dash of spice; also a seven-foot-tall warrior rabbit named Flah-psi.

Next steps: commissioning character art for my three main characters. I’d welcome suggestions in the comments.

Five minutes of terror

I have been revising my Nate Blackpool book into serial format. I tend to write short scenes with end hooks to (hopefully) keep the reader moving along, so breaking The Bore of Babylon into serialized sections doesn’t require too much work. I’m thinking about how readers may want to interact with Amazon Vella (if it releases when?) and I want to make it as easy as possible for them to keep reading my story.

Today, as I was working on the transition between two important scenes (“What the Onion isn’t” and “What the Onion is”) I noticed that a good chunk of exposition was missing. In fact, the few paragraphs that set up the entire joke.

This is the start of my terror. Rummaging around my Scrivener files, trying to see if I accidentally placed those paragraphs in a separate doc and trashed it (why? who knows?!?!) then I finally took a step back and said, “what advice would I offer someone in a similar panic?”

“Just do a search for a word you know is in the section.”

Brilliant! I found it instantly and realized that the paragraphs weren’t missing, I just failed to scroll to the top of the document.

Wow. Thank god no one was around to see my embarrassment and I can take this boneheaded mistake to my grave.

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