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How To Write A Stress-Free Serial

I've written several serials for my blog now, two fiction and many nonfiction. And I've finished them all ... something that has resulted in many of my friends asking me, "Please, share your secret!?"

And because I don't want it to be a secret, I have decided to share.

1. Have an idea worth finishing
First, know what you want to write. It's all good and fun to know that you want to write a serial, but make sure before you start writing that it's actually serial material. Inspired to write something, but been putting it off because it's just not quite good enough or appropriate for a traditional novel but you're in love with it anyway? 

Ask yourself if your current reader base would like it ... don't write horror if your readers are a bunch of Christian 14-year olds. Try to make sure the content still fits your blog. 

All of my serials were ideas I was passionate about. 

The fiction ones, The Lawrence Children and Susan of Narnia, were ideas I'd had since I was about fourteen, so the plots had been simmering in my brain for a good five-eight years before finding life in words. 

My nonfiction serials, Living With The Amish, Why I Love/ Hate Myers Briggs, On Spending Time and Working Before Resting, and many others were all topics I was passionate about through experience and thus couldn't keep in a single blog post. 

2. Finish it BEFORE you start posting 
Then, once you're certain, write it all out. DON'T WRITE SOME OF IT AND POST BEFORE IT'S FINISHED. That's a sure way to guarantee a load of stress for yourself. Plus, you'll end up forgetting and finding you don't know what to write next, and then your serial will never be finished, or you'll have long breaks between publishing breaks, and your audience will lose interest. 

So write everything first.

For both The Lawrence Children and Susan of Narnia I wrote the first drafts in under three weeks. 

For most of my nonfiction series, I wrote them all out in the space of a couple days, if not a single day. Except my Amish series took right at a year to put together, because of having to work with so many people.

Because my fictional serials weren't novels I was trying to write for publication, but something I was doing for fun for my blog, I didn't use quite the same method as I usually do. I took maybe a week tops break from the manuscripts, then dove right into the second draft. And that's all the writing I did ... the second draft usually took me about the same amount of time as the first. 

In the first draft, I focused on getting the story down. 
In the second draft, I focused on making the story more interesting, taking out parts that made it dull, adding description where I needed it, and tightening my prose. 

3. Find beta readers, and possibly editors
After finishing the second draft, I looked for a few beta readers among friends and Go Teen Writers. I even found a few people wanting to edit and had a few people go over my serials. 

I didn't want to put a ton of work into these as it's just for my blog, but at the same time, I didn't want to post garbage. So I looked for about three-five beta readers and one or two editors. I did this only on my larger series though, not any of my two-parters. 

My beta readers would point out plot inconsistencies, bad dialogue or confusing wording, and characters doing things out of turn. 

My editors would do basic line edits. 
I actually hired Elisabeth Houseman to edit Susan of Narnia, because I was really excited about that serial. And she did a fantastic line edit. 

I've also had R. M. Archer edit for me, and I've always been very happy with her work. 

One last thing that's very good to do, is to thank all your beta readers and editors. And I actually write and schedule this post just after finishing up step three so that I don't forget who was involved with helping me. Here's my afterward post for the Lawrence Children as an example. And I have one written up for my Susan serial, too. It's just scheduled and waiting to post until the serial has all been posted ;) 

I should have probably written a thank you post for my Amish series, too. But I didn't ... and at this point, I'd have a hard time remembering all who helped me put that together. Which is really sad and why I should have written it when I had the chance. 

4. Schedule it on your blog
This actually will take some time. For my shorter series, I can give it an evening or two. But my fictional series took several evenings. 

I'm not sure how other blogging platforms work, but blogger has really funky formatting behaviors. Especially when copying from one place to another. I usually write through google docs or libre office. Sometimes I can copy the text straight over from there to blogger. But sometimes copying and pasting will put white behind all the text, so I'll have to copy and paste into the website bar, then copy that and paste into my blogger document. 

That'll make the text standard to whatever I have set on blogger, but it also means everything is now blocked text. So I have to go through and make all my paragraphs. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT your formant looks decent. Don't think your readers are going to give your story a chance if the text looks miserable. And small paragraphs are crucial, so don't be lazy with forming paragraphs. 

Once I have all my posts formatted in blogger, I choose a regular day for posting. For non-fiction series, I post on my regular Wednesdays. I did my Amish posts every couple of days, but my two-parters were done on one Wednesday and then the next. 

I also collect all my permalinks and include those at the end of every post so that readers in the future can conveniently find any post in the series. 

For my fictional series, I form a new draft and copy the permalinks there, since those posts are usually about twelve posts long. Once all twelve permalinks are together and formatted how I want them, I copy them and paste them at the end of each of my other posts. Having that extra draft to work from saves time from going back and forth through each of the actual posts. Once I'm done, I delete the draft containing the permalinks. 

5. Forget that about it and allow others to enjoy!
You've written your serial. You have it scheduled out ... if it's a twelve-parter, that means you have a year of content and you NEVER have to worry about writing or posting. Whew! You've just saved yourself from losing ten years of life. Can't you just feel that stress rolling away, and wow, there's so much joy? 

All you have to do now is share your posts on social media whenever they publish—most times I forget it's even time for the next installment to post until after the fact. It's always a nice surprise to see that it's still working without my needing to remember its existence. 

Posting your serial should be fun, and this method of doing it makes certain of that. Your readers can enjoy and you need never have the displeasure of experiencing stress or blogger shame. 

Have you ever written a serial? Do you have any tips to share? And what are some of your favorite serials, fiction or nonfiction, that you've ever read from blogs? Share links! 


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