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Writing A Serial Novel

Having fun with online writing.

by Michael H. Thomson
November 15, 2003

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Writing A Serial Novel_Michael H. Thomson-Having fun with online writing When I first created my website, I had no earthly idea what I was going to do with it. At first, I plastered family photographs on different pages, and expressed a few political opinions. I tried different experiments with templates, and toyed with the idea of selling some type of product. It wasn't until a few months ago that my website started becoming fun. That was when I began using it as a vehicle for serious writing.

Writing a novel has always been a fascination for me. Unfortunately, until recently I haven't had the staying power or discipline to write more than a couple of thousand words on any subject, let alone the sixty or seventy thousand words necessary to write a 240 or 280 page book. That is until I reached down into my inner self and pulled out what had been lurking there for several years... A "ham".

I knew the "ham" was there but it had been a length of time since I had visited him. From 1971 until 1988, I got to satisfy the "ham" in me by being a regular presenter on several subjects. I had stage presence, I told jokes, and could wax dramatic or poetic. Many times I would finish a presentation and walk away feeling an adrenaline "high". I have not enjoyed such a "high" until just recently, when I began an online serial novel.

For fifteen years, I have had two novels "living" inside of me. On both I developed folders where I would deposit notes, clippings, and other research I had garnered over the years. On both, I had made futile attempts to begin the stories which have middles, ends, but until recently, no beginnings. Late one night in August of this year, on an impulse, I wrote 900 words of a beginning chapter to one of the novels and pasted it into a template on my website and waited...

Two weeks later, I received an email from an individual I did not know, but who wrote a terse, but encouraging two word messages that said, "Write more!" I put two more chapters out there and started receiving encouragement from a readership that I have discovered to be very impatient. The term "I'm hooked" has become very frequent in subsequent emails.

What this has done to me has given me a responsibility to produce words on a regular basis for a small but growing readership. It has also forced me to organize myself i.e., on the wall of my third floor "writing chamber" I have a story board where I have organized my chapters into "scenes". These scenes describing events in a chapter have helped my writing immensely by getting me into the "action" of a chapter as I am writing it.

Then there is the "fun". Humans are a big mish mash of good and evil. Some of my "evil" characters are a composite of the evil aspects of several people I have met in my life's journey. The same hold's true for the "good" aspects of my heroes. Because my current online novel is centered in a regional locale, much of my readership is from that region. In my emails I receive many funny stories. Here are some of the funny things that have been relayed to me by my readers:

A printed copy of one particular juicy chapter literally "crawled" its way down the bar of a country club in the region with bar patrons arguing as to who I had modeled a particular character after. They weren't even close. My character was modeled after the composite of two people who lived in different states hundreds of miles away from the small southern country club.

In another town, thirty miles away, a women's bridge club, between hands, marked up some reproduced chapters playing a guessing game as to who some of the characters "actually" were. One of my characters, a slim, red-haired, green eyed, female night club operator who was based on a slim, red-haired, green eyed female waitress - who actually lives 700 miles away from the bridge club - got special - and I must say, very "catty" attention...

An unsigned email from an individual claiming to have thirty-five years of law enforcement experience in the town, he thought was the locale of my story recounted to me seven incidents that he wished I had woven into my tale. John Grisham, Stuart Woods, and other strictly print media writers have to wait years to get this kind of feedback. I receive it in near virtual time every other day.

Will my book make it to the print media? Will I become stressed out from a torturous book signing schedule? Will starlets stand in line for my autograph on the set of the eventual hit movie?

There are no answers to any of those questions. However, there's this: Writing online has forced me to finish something that I once considered nearly impossible given my previous level of procrastination. The "ham" now has the "stage" of a website and an audience of hundreds. Writing two to four thousand words per week has improved my writing and the feedback from my weekly efforts has given me a great appreciation for what it's all about... The Reader.

If you have a book living inside of you and you have the time to write it, but don't know how to get started, take my advice... create a website!

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