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Confessions of a serial fiction newbie

Our last guest post comes from Dwain Smith. In the last few months, he's started a serial fiction called the Super Serial.  His perspective on writing a serial fiction is as fresh and new as his serial. He joins us to share his experiences.


Confessions of a Serial Fiction Newbie

Hi! I’m Dwain. I write serial fiction and I have no idea what I’m doing.

I started writing Super Serial about six weeks ago. It’s the story of three friends that create a fantastical universe and fill it with superheroes that do heroic things like punch gangsters and fight terrorists and take naps. Here’s what I’ve learned so far about writing serials and about myself (cue after school special music now):

  • Character decisions matter. With a novel, I can go back to chapter two and tweak an event so that it lines up better with what I’m doing in chapter nineteen. With a serial it’s out there. It happened. That character has to find a way out of the corner I’ve written them into. And so that is why:
  • It pays to be a seat-of-your-pantser. Roll with the punches. Build the world as you go. Surprised to find out that one of your protagonists is a little more Jack Bauer than Captain America? See what new paths that discovery opens up in your writing.
  • Cliffhangers are your friend. They make readers want to read more and give you a chance to catch your breath.
  • Observe the art form in action. Read other serials. See how it is done on television. Since I’m writing about superheroes, I get to turn to comic books for inspiration.
  • Bite off a little more than you can chew. Don’t think big – think huge. Super Serial is an ambitious project. I’m creating the world of the heroes (Intrepid, Vigilant, and the afterpeople) while also telling the story of their creators (Jack, Chris, and Thad). I’m playing with writing style and point of view in ways that I’ve never done in my novels. It’s intimidating. But it is also exciting. And if I’m going to dedicate myself to writing a part of this story every week for the indefinite future – it better be something I’m excited about!

Writing Super Serial has been a wild ride so far – I can’t wait to see what happens next. So let me rephrase my opening statement: I write serial fiction and I have no idea what I’m doing and I think I like it that way.

Now if you don’t mind, I have to go break up some super powered fisticuffs in my next issue. You know how superheroes can be – it’s all energy blasts and roundhouse kicks first, discuss issues sensibly later.



Dwain Smith is the author of The Junk Whisperer, The Supervillain’s Guide to Philanthropy, Fleeced, and Bullheaded. He’s @dwainsmith on twitter and you can read new issues of Super Serial every week at http://dwainsmith.com/superserial/.