I’m starting a new experimental serial fiction project. It involves extremely(!) short chapters updated three times a week.
The story is called “Court of the Abominatrix“. The first part/chapter/page is here. It isn’t much right now; give it a few more pages before the actual story kicks in.
Even with the Book of Dark Places permanently shelved, the itch to do regular serial fiction is still strong. The problem is that, in the OLD days, a single “update” from me ran anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 words, sometimes more. Sure, it didn’t start out that way, but over time I kept trying to put more and more “story” into each chapter, resulting in longer chapters and longer periods of time between each one. I got extremely tired and the whole thing collapsed. I’m not likely to reach that level of output again unless I’m doing it as a paid, full-time job. But what I can do is shorter, more regular chapters. That’s what I’m trying to do with “In Deed,” which I can hopefully update every other week.
The problem is: That’s not enough. I’m a realist, and the reality is that I’ve got maybe 10 people reading my stuff with any regularity. I’ve got to rebuild my audience, and I’ve got to keep them coming back a lot more often than once every couple of weeks. Even once a week is inadequate; I need an update schedule more like what the webcomics do. I was trying to address this with the “three times a week” schedule on BoDP, but I couldn’t keep it up. The graphics work was just too much work. Even with a standard text story, chugging out multiple chapters a week just can’t be done by me if I want to stay married
and sane. But what about something shorter? What about… what’s a good number… 500 words?
That doesn’t sound like much at all. And it isn’t. But I can do a lot in 500 words… hell, I can do a lot in just 55 words, as you’ve seen. So I’ve decided to do a little experiment. I’m going to tell a story in 500-word increments, one “page” or “chapter” or whatever you want to call it, every other day. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have no doubt that this is sustainable. I can write 500 words even on a BAD day. I can write 500 words even when I’m traveling. Whether the story will be GOOD when told in this way… that’s what I’m trying to find out.
And so, I give you “Court of the Abominatrix”. This horror story had been sitting around in my files for years before it fell victim to the Great Hard Drive Apocalypse. But the idea was too twisted to die, and I’m reproducing the storyline from memory, 500 words at a time. Obviously it won’t read like a “regular” story, and it might be frustrating to people who want to sit down and read a complete story from beginning to end. This isn’t for those people. This isn’t for people who are hungering for the 15,000 word chapters that I used to do every other week in the old days. This is for people who are already accustomed to the way webcomics work: a tiny section of story every few days, rather than a huge chunk every few weeks.
The update schedule for “Court…” is Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Episodes may show up on the afternoon/evening of the previous day, depending on how busy I am. I will probably post notices and links here in the blog for every update, which means the posting frequency will increase. That may be annoying as well, but it’s necessary to get the word out to the search engines and such.
Your first thought after reading the first page of the story might be: “Huh…?” That’s to be expected. Keep reading, give it time, and remember that the next section of story will be arriving in a few days instead of the few weeks/months/years(!!) that you’re accustomed to. It will all make sense soon enough.
Feedback is welcome at any point, but right now there’s really not enough story to form an opinion yet. Still, if you’ve got something to say, you know what to do.