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Old 12-30-2012, 06:10 PM   #1
carlieplum
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When you are writing multipart stories

do you write the whole thing and start to post or write bit by bit and post as you go?

After my first experience writing a multi-parter, I had some gaps in the timing, and I get pissed off when I get into a story and the author drops it without completing it (quite a few I can think of in that category) or leaves it for months without an update. But I've been working on this one story for freaking ever.

I've got 30,000+ words written and the rest of the plot mapped out, but I'm stalled. I'm tempted to post the first few parts to light a fire under my own ass, but...
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:13 PM   #2
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:21 PM   #3
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I write the whole thing--fiction isn't a complete, coherent story until it's finished--and submit the next segment the day the prior segment posts. In recent serials, I've noted on top of the first posting how many parts they are and when I anticipate the last one will have posted--so the reader knows that what is started will be finished. But that's just one way of doing it.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:32 PM   #4
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It's always best to finish it before you post it. Consistent posting is the key to keeping the readership interested, and building your fanbase.

You learn the hard way that starting to post something before it's finished can be your bane. For me, I need to bounce around between different stories, and that means I can't focus enough to keep up a schedule.

Things can happen. I had a tragedy in my life deeply connected to SOTM on the day Ch. 12 posted, and finishing it now has become both a labor of love and a painful process.

In the end, even if having a large chunk of it sitting unfinished on your hard drive frustrates you, it's a lot less frustrating than posting what you have and finding that it doesn't "light a fire under you" to get it done any quicker.

I have one that's been in progress for a couple of years that I haven't posted any of yet. I have about 40k words in 8 chapters ready to go, but I'm struggling with one scene in the final, 9th chapter.

I'm still not going to post it until it's done, because I've been bitten by that trap before.
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:05 PM   #5
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I irritate readers by not finishing a series.

I know where it should go before I start the first episode - but then the characters disagree with me and chaos reigns.

Slowly I'll get there. It might take years for the final part to be written but I aim to finish them all.

With my Shelacta series I cheat. I claim that I can only get partial and disjointed information from the planet Shelacta, so episodes don't need to be sequential or even relevant to the previous one(s).
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Old 12-30-2012, 07:17 PM   #6
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My current story started out as a one-shot, which I gave a friend to have a look at. Said friend both urged me to publish the piece and shot me one hell of an idea that allowed me a somewhat episodic approach. And I went ahead and ruined it by weaving a somewhat coherent plotline into it

So I went from "no obligations, just episodes" to "I guess I'll need to come up with a plan to wrap this up". Damn

As for posting: I try to keep at least two to three pieces ready so I have a buffer for unforseen circumstances like my editor taking longer than expected or me having no mind for writing. Thus far, it has worked, but I'm only three (or four, when counting the already approved but still "pending" piece) chapters in.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind_Justice View Post
As for posting: I try to keep at least two to three pieces ready so I have a buffer for unforseen circumstances like my editor taking longer than expected or me having no mind for writing. Thus far, it has worked, but I'm only three (or four, when counting the already approved but still "pending" piece) chapters in.
I get what you're saying but even that may not be enough of a buffer. For my first long story, I started posting with about six or so chapters done and used that buffer and managed to finish with no lags. I tried it on my most recent story (Rhythm and the Blue Line) and ended up with two long gaps, b/c the holidays last year interfered and I had to do a major rewrite on ch 7, which required serious fixes in Ch 8 and then it was hard to find time to write. All of that happened while I was posting parts 1-6.

I'd say ideally, have the story finished so you can post it on a regular basis -- daily, weekly, whatever. But I do know some people like to have some feedback for encouragement, and it's hard to wait. So I'd say wait as long as you can so that as much as possible is done, and then start.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:01 PM   #8
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I've written a few.
Mostly get an idea and start writing. I pretty much have to write it down to get it out of my
head or it drives me crazy.
After the first "chapter" I usually am all ready planing the second.
I submit the first though.
Then press on.
Right now I have one going, two chapters published and working on the third but I am kind of lost.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oralguy82 View Post
Right now I have one going, two chapters published and working on the third but I am kind of lost.
And that's precisely why many feel you shouldn't submit any chapters until the entire story is finished. You're leaving readers hanging and they may not return for further chapters.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oralguy82 View Post
Right now I have one going, two chapters published and working on the third but I am kind of lost.
Which is where I think you need to rethink the idea of publishing before the story is finished. If you have fans reading your series, a good many of them are going to be ticked about you wasting their time if you don't deliver a finish in a timely manner. And they may not be there to read your next set of stories.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlieplum View Post
do you write the whole thing and start to post or write bit by bit and post as you go?
It depends on what kind of multi-part story you're writing.

From your description, you're working on a "novel" which you plan on serializing by posting one chapter at a time. That sort of multi-part story should deinitely be finished before posting the first part.

However, a lot of the multi-part stories here at Lit are "Soap Opera" style multi-part stories. Since a soap opera only ends when the soap company quits sponsoring it, it is difficult to finish it before posting. In that style of story it is best to build up a buffer so you can post on a regular schedule even through writer's bock and real-life crises.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:30 PM   #12
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I'm one of those 'wont update for months' authors you ranted against

Oh well.

I write as much as I can, but there is always an instant in a story when I know whether or not I'll be able to finish. I have dozens of half-written story ideas. I keep them in cold-storage, and occasionally dig them up to work on them.

I haven't left a story hanging yet.

So write your story until you feel that spark. Until you know you will finish it.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:50 AM   #13
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Some Experience With This...

My novel was originally a series on Literotica. It eventually had 15 or so chapters. I had what amounted to the first four installments (none longer than 3 lit pages) written when I started posting it. I had never written erotica before, and mostly I was just looking for feedback on my writing that wasn't coming from friends who were naturally predisposed to be gentle and encouraging with their feedback.

That feedback was what drove me to write more and more. Readers encouraged me to write longer installments, so I did that. Feedback helped shape the story in a few ways; at least one character went from one-time-only-appearance to being a very significant supporting character because readers said they wanted to see more of her. Looking back on it, I think it would've been crazy NOT to use her as the readers suggested, but it hadn't been my original intent. Again, though, the biggest draw to posting as I wrote was the instant validation and appreciation I got from a waiting audience.

The longer the story got, the more attention it got, too, until it had several of the top ten spots on the "overall votes" category (and for sci-fi). I have since taken it down and self-pubbed it. NONE of that would've happened had I written the whole thing out and then posted it on a regular schedule. I likely never would've gotten it done at all.

It's also worth noting: because I posted in a serialized format, I made sure that the majority of chapters had some sex in 'em. When I put it into a novel, that wasn't so necessary, but there are readers who want all that back in and I just can't make everyone happy.

Since then, I have tried to write whole pieces and only post them when they're done, but I find it difficult to stay focused and energized. (This, aside from some other writing projects, is probably the biggest reason why the sequel is only about half-finished.) That lack of instant feedback is fairly significant in my motivation to write.

I have two other series on Literotica. One is complete, though probably cut short to the tastes of many. I simply wasn't sure where it was going from its end point, so I let it end. The other... as I've said in a foreword on one chapter, the other series is just me kinda screwing around, but a lot of readers really want me to finish it and I feel bad that I don't know where to go with it. I'm sure that has cost me some credibility in the eyes of a few.

So yeah, there is good and bad to posting in a serial format. It can be a GREAT motivator, but it really helps to at least know where you're going from beginning through middle to end. If you don't know that right off... well, I guess that comes down to how seriously you take your readership on Literotica.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:45 AM   #14
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I have a similar story.

With "Blackhawk Hall", I was not only posting as I finished chapters, but a couple of chapters in, I was taking on "challenge words" from a reader.

It started as a means for the reader to see if I was interested in talking more through email. The first comment was anonymous, and suggested a fairly uncommon word to work in if I was up for a conversation.

I thought, "What the hell" and worked the word in. The readers was tickled, and immediately emailed me with an attached email addy so we could talk. During those conversations, a new challenge word for the next chapter emerged, and I ran with it.

The Wayfarer's Rest, which is now a staple feature in the city of Fightershaven on my world, sprang entirely from the word "alabaster". It also created a new character ( the man who runs the Rest ) and provided additional backstory to another character in my world.

One of the main characters, Mindblind, ended up developing brand new backstory elements from "Osage" It likewise spawned an entire action sequence that modified the direction of the story, provided some light moments in a dark portion of the tale, gave me some incredible lines of dialogue to put in Mindblind's mouth, and overall tickled me.

Another word completely changed how the ending came about ( for the better ) It was the same ending I'd planned from the beginning, but just happened in a different way.

That story wouldn't be half of what it is without the reader input in the form of those individual words. Other discussions spawned entire stories ( Merchant Princess and Ebon Genesis )

If you know you can keep up with a reasonable schedule, it can be fun to write the story "live", and perhaps even turn out better that how you started.

It's a matter of whether you're up to it, and whether life throws you curve balls in the middle.
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:37 AM   #15
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I don't think I could ever start posting chapters before the whole story is finished. The number of times I need to go back and change something early on to make what happens later better means it wouldn't be practical.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:27 AM   #16
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If I waited until one of my lit stories is finished, I'd probably publish my first one ten years into retirement (which is still thirty plus x years ahead). Having the first few chapters out there reminds to revisit those ideas and add to them, piece by piece. I've received one or two complaints about not updating a story for months, but I feel the positive responses for individual chapters far outweigh those few letdowns. Though I do try to give every chapter its own (literal) climax, so it has some kind of closure, while still leaving a small thread of promise dangling before the reader

I guess it all depends on how you write your story. If you put in a lot of character development you'll likely end up with a number of low-action chapters, which should never get posted on their own. If, on the other hand, you can post a chapter with an intense scene or high suspense that doesn't end in a major cliffy, most readers will cope well.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:33 AM   #17
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The simple answer to your question is yes (both).

My advice for a multi-parter is to stay at least one section ahead. You also need to keep track of what you wrote; if she removes her big blue knickers at the end of part two she can hardly be wearing tight white panties with a lot of lacy frills close to the start of part three.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:44 AM   #18
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Let me go at this from both the reader's and writer's perspective:

As a READER I find it extremely annoying when a multipart story is not finished. I've come across a few examples of very good stories that I really liked and after five or six chapters they suddenly stop with everything unresolved. I start cursing when I see that the writer hasn't posted for a couple of years and there are lots of comments begging for the story to be finished. So now I try not to start reading a multipart story unless I know that all chapters are there, or it's written by authors that are active and can be trusted to finish - like Cruel2BeKind

I'm prepared to wait a reasonable amount of time between each chapter, e.g. a few months. But that also depends on how long the chapters are, if they end with a cliff hanger, and what the story line is. So if you write a multipart, where each chapter is a selfcontained story, it's OK to start publishing before you have finished writing. But if the story needs every chapter in order to have the plot resolved, I would recommend that you try to finish it before publishing or be sure to finish it within a reasonable time frame.

As a WRITER I would love to do what Dark says and take suggestions from readers and work with that. But it's not going to happen for two reasons. One is that you probably have to be established as a popular author and have a fan base for this to occur, and the other is that I find that my stories have a tendency to go in unexpected directions as new ideas pop up. And some of the twists mean that I have to go back and change details in the previous chapters, which I cannot so easily do if they are already published.

So I'm more likely to do what SR says and have the whole thing written before I post. But I must admit I've had a couple of series where I have written and published each chapter as they got done. Not here but at the Danish site where I've been active for a few years. And it worked OK and at least I've never left a story unfinished. On the other hand most of my series consist of selfcontained stories, and the main connection between chapters is that the same characters appear again and they refer back to earlier times. So I guess it won't matter too much to Lit readers if I never get around to 'finish' them here.

My advice to you would be to publish a few chapters with the warning that this is a story in progress. Tell the readers how many chapters they can expect right now and how you would like their feed back to help you continue writing. Then people know what they get into. But only do this if the chapters really ARE finished, i.e. have been checked for spelling, grammar and inconsistencies. You cannot get away with sloppy writing AND an unfinished story at the same time. Good luck

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Old 12-31-2012, 11:40 AM   #19
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The answer depends upon your own style, the length of the story, and your ability to follow through on what you start, with the last factor being the most important. Be honest with yourself and evaluate whether you have the discipline to see a story through to the end if you start publishing it in pieces. I've done it both ways, and I find that I prefer to write shorter stories (1-3) chapters all at once, and post them in rapid succession. With something a little longer, (5+), I prefer to post each chapter as it is completed. I couldn't imagine writing a 40+ chapter story like some other authors have done, and waiting until the entire story was complete before posting any of it. But that's just me. Do whatever you are feeling inclined to do, and see how it works for you.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:07 PM   #20
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The problem with that Soflabbwlvr is that you didn't once mention the reader. If you want readers you can't just not consider their needs/wants.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:37 PM   #21
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The problem with that Soflabbwlvr is that you didn't once mention the reader. If you want readers you can't just not consider their needs/wants.
Then you missed the point when I specified the need to honestly evaluate one's self-discipline.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:41 PM   #22
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Then you missed the point when I specified the need to honestly evaluate one's self-discipline.
No, I saw that. It doesn't necessarily relate to a reader. It's about "self"--your own needs to complete a project. There was no direct link made to a reader.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:56 PM   #23
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No, I saw that. It doesn't necessarily relate to a reader. It's about "self"--your own needs to complete a project. There was no direct link made to a reader.
I'm not going to argue with you about all of the nuances I intended in a statement I wrote.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:58 PM   #24
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I'm not going to argue with you about all of the nuances I intended in a statement I wrote.
Not arguing would be fine. Nuances intended aren't necessarily what's there to be read. That's one of the basic problems in a writer connecting with readers.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:47 PM   #25
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As a READER I find it extremely annoying when a multipart story is not finished. I've come across a few examples of very good stories that I really liked and after five or six chapters they suddenly stop with everything unresolved. I start cursing when I see that the writer hasn't posted for a couple of years and there are lots of comments begging for the story to be finished. So now I try not to start reading a multipart story unless I know that all chapters are there, or it's written by authors that are active and can be trusted to finish - like Cruel2BeKind
Aw, shucks.
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