WELCOME TO ALL THINGS BRI
Welcome to my first post about Writing and Preparing a Serial for Publication! The most frequent question I received about serials goes something like this: How do you draft a cohesive, unified story when you know it will be published in pieces?
So, that’s the topic of this first post! Keep in mind that I’m writing about what worked *for me.* Your mileage may vary with this process, so please take what I say with a grain of salt! And, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to it!
In my writing process, I draft in three main phases.
In my first phase, I write what a Zero Draft.
This is an extremely detailed summary of the entire novel, written quickly and in extremely casual English. Writing quickly forces me to keep the pace of the story moving, so that each scene pushes the story constantly forward.
Once I’m done, I’ve got a very slim draft, which I’ll develop later. For example, the Zero Draft for #ProjectBrokenMoon came in at only 23,179 words. This may seem like a low word count, but remember that this a summary. I may capture some lines of description and dialog, but the goal *IS NOT* to write perfect prose.
The goal is to craft what I hope is a cohesive and unified story and to see the entire serial at a glance. This way, I can ensure that every scene has a purpose, that every character has an arc, and that each of the story’s four acts has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Those acts – Act 1, Act 2A, Act 2B, and Act 3 – will become the four episodes of my serial.
Once I finish my Zero Draft, I send it to beta readers. Some are professional editors (which is also what I do at my day job!). Others are experienced writers and readers. All have an in-depth understanding of story structure, character, and are clear on my goals for my book. I trust them to catch any plot holes, moments where the tension falls out of the story, and scenes where my characters behave inconsistently or where their motives are unclear.
When I get beta feedback, I incorporate it into my notes and start my First Draft!
For this post about Writing and Preparing a Serial for Publication, I’m discussing my process my First Draft and my Revision-Edit Draft. Please keep in mind that this is a process that worked *for me.* Your mileage may vary!
First Note: The Zero Draft is the only time I write through the entire novel at once. From there, I take each episode through the process described below before I start work on the next episode.
Second Note: I know this is probably controversial? But I don’t focus on word counts at any point. When I do, I write only half the scenes I need and reach my deadline with an incomplete, bloated draft. Instead, I focus on completing scenes each day. This way, at deadline I have a lean, but complete, manuscript that I can continue to develop. My word count usually takes care of itself anyway. For example, while the Zero Draft of Episode One was only 5,861 words, it reached 15,018 words after the First Draft, and 22,055 words after my Revision-Edit Draft.
So, let’s talk about First Drafts and Revision-Edit Drafts!
The First Draft is pretty simple. Here, I expand the Zero Draft summary into the actual text of my book – into scenes with descriptions, dialog, and characters. Once that’s done, I make extensive notes for revisions.
Then, I start my Revision-Edit draft. Here, I focus on scenes that need emotional development or that don’t clearly convey the story’s stakes or hold tension. I also focus on scenes that need more sensory description or exposition to better support world building.
At this stage, I also use highlighters to mark text that needs no revision in blue. I mark the areas that “feels off” and need to be re-written in yellow. If I don’t identify the lines that already work perfectly, I’ll nitpick the draft until I hate it. Basically, the blue highlights tells me, “This is fine. Don’t touch it. Work on the things that actually need your attention."
This whole process takes roughly six weeks. I write the First Draft in three weeks, and then take another three for the Revision-Edit Draft.
Next, I’ll talk about what comes next: CP letters, Final Drafts, & line edits!