Thoughts on Writing – Writing A Serial Novel – MVChron Midpoint Evaluation

Now that Isaac and I have reached the midpoint of The Multiverse Chronicles (or what was originally going to be the midpoint), I thought it might be fun to look at what we had planned for this series, and what the current trajectory is.

For those of you who are new to my blog, The Multiverse Chronicles is a pseudo-steampunk fantasy blog series that my husband and I write. Isaac writes the rough draft for each episode, which I then edit. We send that draft to a beta-reader, who gives us feedback. We polish the episode, and then post it to our blog (approximately once a week between episodes).

The series started because we wanted a way to advertise our Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel card game. So we worked out more of the universe and wrote it into story format. (Fun Fact: The story came from the card game, but the card game from a story… which came from a role-play game Isaac game-mastered and created the world for. It’s just one big cycle.)

When we first planned the series, we thought they’d be short little episodes, each an individual story following the lives of various characters who we occasionally revisited (actually, we first pictured this as a comic strip). As the story progressed, certain themes would reoccur and a larger story arc would appear, but would only be important to those who read the whole series.

That didn’t happen.

The story evolved to have a full-blown plot. Even then, we determined that we would still keep the episodes short (around 500-1500 words), and we would keep some level of independent story from episode to episode, that way new readers could fall in at any time and be able to reasonably follow what was going on.

Ahem.

Let’s take a look at the actual word count of the first twelve episodes, shall we?

  • Prologue: 478
  • Episode 1: 2,318
  • Episode 2: 3,287
  • Episode 3: 2,771
  • Episode 4: 3,395
  • Episode 5: 3,829
  • Episode 6: 2,202
  • Episode 7: 3,082
  • Episode 8: 3,660
  • Episode 9: 2,760
  • Episode 10: 2,018
  • Episode 11: 3,918
  • Episode 12: 4,226

Ignoring the prologue, which we added at the last minute because we wanted to have at least some reference of why we call this “The Multiverse Chronicles,” the episodes are well above the intended length.

Granted, a lot of that is my fault. I like details. I want to see the world…

And I enjoy knowing what the bad guys are doing.

Isaac’s original drafts are closer to the intended length (for example, the original draft of the first episode is only 1,645 words long, and episode twelve was only 1,672 words long (note: this does not include the end scene, which was added later and raised the total count to 2,591 words).

Combined,the total word count for the first twelve episodes without the prologue is 37,466 words, with an average of 3,122 words per episode.

That’s double the original word count we had in mind.

Adding to the word count was the decision to add “Meanwhile“scenes at the end of each episode to show what other characters, especially the antagonists, were up to. The idea was to build suspense. Per feedback from our beta-reader, we later stopped calling them “Meanwhile” scenes and just made them a part of the regular episode, albeit with a section break.

What remained as planned, however, was to have an illustration with each story, hearkening back to the idea of penny dreadfuls and dime novels. Though the style and number of illustration varies a bit from episode to episode, we try to have at least something.

Originally we planned to have 24 episodes, though looking at our current structure, we now have 27 episodes planned, and I haven’t checked to see if any of the remaining episodes need to be split into two parts (as we did with one of the earlier episodes, and the two episodes we’ll be releasing next).

Once the first season has been released, I’m hoping to go back through the full story, make any final changes and polish the writing, and then publish a print and ebook edition. But that’s a post for another day.

Though we deviated from our original plans, I hope that readers will still enjoy The Multiverse Chronicles. And please, feel free to chime in with thoughts and comments as you read each episode. We would love to hear from you.:-)

Previous posts about the serialization process:

Thoughts on Publishing – Serial Publishing Methods

Thoughts on Writing – What does a Serial Episode Need?

 

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Thoughts on Blogging – A Question For My Blog Readers

As we approach summer, (which means I should have more time to write blog posts), I’ve come up with a question for those of you who read my blog:

What do you like reading on my blog, and what do you want to see more of?

Is there anything you would prefer to see less of?

About a year ago I went from only posting “behind the scenes” content about book covers I had designed, to writing articles on my writing processes and the steps my husband and I were taking in creating our publishing company.

Then I started creating the video blogs with the readings, and then finally reblogging our pseudo-steampunk series, The Multiverse Chronicles.

From what I can tell, most of the people who follow this blog are writers. Do you want to see more posts on writing and the writing craft? Publishing? Self-publishing techniques?

Do you like seeing the Behind the Scenes posts about how I make book covers?

Do you watch the video blog posts I do, and/or listen to the readings of Magic’s Stealing?

Do you read the Multiverse serial episodes?

Is there anything you want to see that I haven’t tried yet?

Feel free to respond via the form below, or to send me an email privately (my contact page).

I look forward to hearing from you.:-)

* * *

Just a quick reminder, I’m running a giveaway for two ebook copies of Magic’s Stealing! There’s only four days left, so enter while you can.:-)

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(Reblogged) How to Save Your Twitter Profile from the Algorithm

I don’t often reblog other blogger’s posts very often, but this one has some important information regarding a Twitter algorithm change that may affect how you see posts in your timeline.

(In other words, they’re trying to emulate the Facebook timeline).

It’s an easy fix, but I didn’t realize they had made the change.

Drew Chial

On February 5, Buzzfeed reported that Twitter was doing away with their chronological timeline in favor of an algorithmic one. Users would no longer see tweets as they were posted in real time, but rather in an order the algorithm thought users wanted to see them. Buzzfeed theorized that this would help manage spam links and adjust Twitter’s signal to noise ratio, but users remained skeptical.

Many users feared, myself included, that Twitter was downgrading everyone in order to sell priority placement tweets to power users, just as Facebook had done with status updates on its Fan Pages. Social media services were shifting stanchions onto their free dance floors, relabeling the spaces as their VIP sections. Twitter appeared to be doing the same; gutting the democracy of the service to benefit a monopoly held by power users, celebrities, and advertisers.

We feared that the algorithm would put an end…

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Thoughts on Writing – A Blurb For Distant Horizon

Isaac and I are preparing to publish our YA/NA science fiction novel, Distant Horizon, and one of the many things that must be completed is a shiny blurb for the back of the book (and the Amazon storefront).

This particular blurb has been through many incarnations, especially seeing as how it started as a query letter (which went through many revisions on Absolute Write’s forums). Of course, the story changed over time, and some of the query letters became obsolete… even when they sounded half-way decent.

In a query letter, you want to give a little more information than a blurb (though you don’t typically reveal the end in either), and as such, I wasn’t sure what should stay and what should go.

How much information is too much?

If I reveal a certain plot point, is it a spoiler, or does it intrigue the reader?

I’ve read some blurbs that pretty much went all the way to the climax of the book, or ran through each major plot point without room for deviation. I’ve read some blurbs that didn’t tell me much at all.

Needless to say, I’ve started to avoid reading blurbs again once I’ve actually started reading a book, that way I don’t start waiting to see when the next plot point shows up. But I’ve also noticed that it takes a really good blurb to hold my attention and make me read it word for word, rather than skimming for key words that catch my interest.

That being said, let’s take a look at what Isaac and I currently have written for Distant Horizon.

The Community is safe, unless you have superpowers.

 

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson resides in an efficient, secure society that’s recovering from a hallucinogenic plague. So when Special Forces agents arrive at her university prior to a mandatory Health Scan, Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers a cruel government conspiracy, her ideal world is shattered.

Terrified, Jenna flees her home under the protection of a ragtag band of freedom fighters. The rebels offer her refuge on their rusty airship and claim her hallucinations are elemental plant powers. She’s not so sure she trusts them, but when she comes face-to-face with a cruel telepath in charge of the government’s darkest secrets, Jenna realizes she’ll need more than special powers to escape with her mind and body intact.

This particular blurb has a tagline: The Community is safe, unless you have superpowers.

(There’s an explanation on the difference between a tagline and a logline here, and a quick explanation here.)

We’re briefly introduced to our protagonist (Jenna), our setting (an efficient, secure society), and a conflict (Society is recovering from hallucinogenic plague. Jenna’s been having hallucination. Societal enforcers show up, making her wonder what’s going to happen to her). We also learn there’s a government conspiracy and get information that gets us just about halfway into the book (when she first meets the telepath).

Analyzing this, I wondered if the conflict could be made clearer from the get-go, and if there’s more we should know about Jenna to make her an interesting character right from the start.

I thought about trying to write the blurb in third person, but offhand I could only think of one book that did this well (Delirium by Lauren Oliver), and I think that worked so well in part because it captured the feel of her writing style.

In one article I read about writing a blurb, the author suggested that introducing the setting before the main character was important in science fiction and fantasy. I checked this theory. This holds true for both Hunger Games and Divergent, and to some degree, Matched (the tagline sets up the world).

Given that the world plays a huge role in Distant Horizon, I’m now considering setting up the world first. (In a world where super villains won the day and dismissed super heroes as delusional misfits with a hallucinogenic plague… All right, all right, I won’t start with “In a world”… And I’m fairly certain that “super villains” and “super heroes” are trademarked terms. *Sigh.*)

Based on the idea of setting first, I came up with this rough blurb:

Ever since a hallucinogenic plague wiped out half the world’s population, the Community has been a haven for its citizens. The people of the Community are safe, secure, and efficient. They take a daily pill to ensure their immunity to the plague, and when the time comes for them to enter the work force, they take a mandatory Health Scan. It’s their duty.

But underneath the illusion of safety, the Community’s Special Forces agents enforce a dark secret.

The plague isn’t real.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson is a freshman biology student with a secret of her own. She hasn’t taken the pill since her senior year of high school. She feels more alive without it, and she doesn’t show any signs of infection—until just two days before a surprise Health Scan is announced and Special Forces agents arrive at her university. Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers the cruel government conspiracy behind the scans, her ideal world is shattered.

I’d be tempted to cut it off here, but I’m not sure that it shows enough about what Jenna will do next. What are her goals? What are the stakes?

This is the amended blurb (though maybe a bit lengthy…):

Ever since a hallucinogenic plague wiped out half the world’s population, the Community has been a haven for its citizens. The people of the Community are safe, secure, and efficient. They take a daily pill to ensure their immunity to the plague, and when the time comes for them to enter the work force, they take a mandatory Health Scan.

It’s their duty. But underneath the illusion of safety, the Community’s Special Forces agents enforce a dark secret.

The plague isn’t real.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson is a university biology student with a secret of her own. She hasn’t taken the pill since her senior year of high school. She feels more alive without it, and she doesn’t show any signs of infection—until just days before a surprise Health Scan is announced and Special Forces agents arrive at her university.

Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that the students who fail the scan are sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers the cruel conspiracy behind the scans, her ideal world is shattered.

Terrified for her life, Jenna flees under the protection of a ragtag band of so-called “freedom fighters” whose arrival coincided with that of Special Forces. These rebels offer her refuge and claim her hallucinations are elemental plant powers, but she’s not so sure she trusts them. Still, her curiosity gets the best of her, and when she comes face-to-face with a cruel telepath in charge of the government’s darkest secrets, Jenna realizes she’ll need more than special powers to escape with her mind and body intact.

Eh… it’s a work in progress.

Let’s look at the taglines real quick.

The current one I have is:

The Community is safe, unless you have superpowers.

An alternative tagline I’ve considered is:

The Community is safe, secure, efficient.

At least, that’s what we were supposed to believe.

Or simply:

The Community is Safe.

The Community is Secure.

The Community is Efficient.

It is our duty.

The first tagline introduces part of the Community mantra, and also brings in the idea of superpowers (which is nice to for attracting the attention of readers who enjoy superhero stories). The downside I’ve considered is that it may not be clear whether the Community isn’t safe for people with superpowers, or if the Community isn’t safe from people with superpowers.

Or both.

Technically, it’s both, but the potential problem is a concern I have.

The second tagline introduces a condensed version of the Community mantra, and instantly sets up that things aren’t as they seem (yay, tension!). Downside… no mention of superpowers.

The third tagline is a bit lengthy, but it clearly shows the Community mantra, which is repeated several times and places a huge role throughout the book. Should be a tad discomforting for the reader, but the downside is that it doesn’t reveal superpowers or and other form tension/conflict.

But what do you guys think? Which tagline do you like best, and why?

What do you think about the blurb? Are there any blurbs you’ve particularly enjoyed reading?

I hope you found this post helpful.:-)

___

By the way, as a way to say thanks for reaching 1000 Twitter followers, I’m currently running a giveaway for two ebook copies (.mobi file or Smashwords coupon) of Magic’s Stealing!

Click here if you’re interested in entering the Rafflecopter giveaway, and good luck!😀

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Behind the Scenes – The Rovers

This is a cover for Melange Books. For this cover, the author already had an idea of what image he wanted used for both the front and back. However, the stock image we looked at initially was marked “editorial only,” so that one wasn’t available. However, we did find a similar photograph on the Library of Congress website that didn’t have any known restrictions, in part due to its age.

So, though it was black and white, I retouched the image and filled it in with color, along with sharpening the picture. (Ironically, while I retouched the back cover image as well, I removed the color from that one). We also found a free font that resembled the baseball logo of the referenced team. This was the result:

Book Cover - The Rovers

I changed the border a bit for the front and back of the print covers, due to the trim lines.

Book Cover - The Rovers - Print Edition

Back of Book Cover - The Rovers

 

Primary stock images from the Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/item/91725980

We had a modern-day image we considered using, but couldn’t due to licencing restrictions.

Post Card Border from The Dollar Photo Club (Now Closed)

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-quinn-abbey-image18602883 – Churchyard

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Episode 12: The Keeper of the Deep

Episode Twelve of The Multiverse Chronicles is now up!

The prince and his bodyguard meet the Keeper of the Deep–an eccentric witch in the middle of a mysterious forest.

The Multiverse Chronicles

The Multiverse Chronicles

Season One: Episode Twelve

“The Keeper of the Deep”

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The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel - The Witch's Cottage

* * *

Spots of sunlight danced between the trees as Alia and Alfons made their way through the thick undergrowth of the Deep. A cinnamon-colored rat scurried along the bramble, unhindered and well-ahead of the two humans.

Alfons rolled underneath his covers and tugged them to his chin. Some dream. Dreams were not usually so memorable. He could almost believe he had woken in a jail cell, escaped under the guidance of a rat who claimed his fiancé had been murdered, ran from mechanical soldiers into a magical forest, been duped by mischievous fairies, and finally been captured by a man-eating witch.

At least his dream had ended with his capture and not after being fired, baked, or broiled alive.

He sighed and stretched, but his feet smacked against a footboard.

Odd. Had his bed shrunk?

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Thoughts on Publishing – A Video Blog Post – Reading Chapter Seventeen of Magic’s Stealing

I finally got the next reading (chapter seventeen) of Magic’s Stealing uploaded! Enjoy.:-)

Click here for the link if you can’t see the video.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

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