Awesome Serial Fiction

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I didn’t do very well with my ser­i­al web fic­tion Honor&Truth, but now that I’ve decid­ed to begin again with the tale, I know what mis­takes I’ve made.  That said, there are some pret­ty awe­some web seri­als out there and I thought I’d take the time to tell you about the ones I most admire.

1.  Steal Tomor­row by Ann Pino — This is one of the first web seri­als I’ve ever read and one of the best by far.  You can read the entire sto­ry along with mul­ti­ple extra short sto­ries.

When her par­ents died in a glob­al pan­dem­ic, sev­en­teen-year-old Cassie Thomp­son thought her biggest prob­lem was find­ing her next meal. But “Telo” is a viral­ly-trans­mit­ted genet­ic dis­ease that tar­gets adults, and no one is immune. Sur­viv­ing to adult­hood isn’t look­ing very good as her city suc­cumbs to food short­ages, san­i­ta­tion prob­lems, and gang vio­lence. When Cassie accepts an invi­ta­tion to join a group of young peo­ple liv­ing in a lux­u­ry hotel, she thinks her most imme­di­ate trou­bles are over. Her new tribe appears com­mit­ted to alliance-build­ing, order, and civil­i­ty. She soon finds, how­ev­er, that her new friends have dark secrets and the boy she is falling in love with might be the most dan­ger­ous of them all.

Steal Tomor­row can be pur­chased for Kin­dle on Ama­zon.  You can see more of Ann Pino’s writ­ing at http://www.ampino.com/.

2.  Caught Some­where In Time by David Schick — I start­ed read­ing CSiT over a year ago and unfor­tu­nate­ly nev­er fin­ished (some­thing I intend to do soon), but that is cer­tain­ly not an indi­ca­tion of how incred­i­bly awe­some this sto­ry is.  This glossy pro­fes­sion­al tale com­bines cool hard sci­ence, space, and aliens.  It is so very worth the read.

In the twen­ty-third cen­tu­ry, human­i­ty will live in colonies on many dif­fer­ent worlds, all of them still with­in this Solar sys­tem. We will not be part of any league of alien cul­tures liv­ing peace­ful­ly among the stars, because even though we can move around the solar sys­tem in a mat­ter of hours or days, the next near­est star is not close enough to reach in a human’s life­time, or even a hun­dred gen­er­a­tions. We are caught some­where in space, unable to leave this part of the galaxy, and no one ever real­ly comes here for a vis­it.

The recent dis­cov­ery of our abil­i­ty to move through time presents alter­nate ideas on how to reach alien cul­tures. The pre­vail­ing idea is that we could fea­si­bly go back in time and meet any extrater­res­tri­al cul­ture that might have pre­vi­ous­ly vis­it­ed us, maybe at a time in our his­to­ry when we were sim­ply not evolved enough to under­stand the impli­ca­tions of such a meet­ing.  The most like­ly can­di­date is the alleged crash of an alien ship out­side of Roswell, New Mex­i­co in 1947.

Caught Some­where in Time fol­lows a team of humans as they embark on a jour­ney to encounter alien life in our own past, while dis­cov­er­ing the seeds of a project called The Chil­dren of Time.

3.  Dark Roads by Laz­lo Azavaar — I read this sto­ry to com­ple­tion in a short peri­od of time.  I loved the swift pace and this sto­ry is about as unpre­dictable as they come.

Alex Abi­an (Also on flickr.com/alexabian) / Fot­er

Two run­aways, their psy­cho dad, and an unseen ene­my.  No longer able to with­stand his abuse any longer, Cal­lie Longstreet, in a fit of anger, takes a fry­ing pan to the back of her father’s head and knocks him out cold. Now, she and her old­er broth­er Michael must ride the dark roads, pur­sued by night­mares, their psy­chot­ic father, and an unseen ene­my who watch­es their every move.

There is a sequel called The War of the Ma’jai.  Laz­lo Azavaar says it’s stalled.  Per­haps if you went over to the site and made some noise you’d prompt him to get a move on…

4.  Star­walk­er by Melanie Edmonds — Like CSiT, Star­walk­er is one of those ubber slick and pro­fes­sion­al look­ing ser­i­al blogs.  The writ­ing is just as ter­rif­ic.  I found Star­walk­er around the same time I start­ed my blog as well and was unable to fin­ish it.  Again, the fact that I didn’t fin­ish read­ing is absolute­ly no indi­ca­tion of how won­der­ful­ly smart and tight­ly writ­ten this piece of ser­i­al fic­tion is.  It is sim­ply gold­en and is on my list to go back and com­plete.

NASA God­dard Pho­to and Video / Fot­er

The Star­walk­er is a star­ship with an exper­i­men­tal star-step­ping dri­ve. Designed to use the grav­i­ty wells of stars to fold space, she can trav­el between star sys­tems faster than FTL. That is, if they can get it to work.

She is run by a sophis­ti­cat­ed AI who doesn’t always fol­low her pro­gram­ming. She has only just been born, and she has a lot to fig­ure out. She is often torn between the needs of the crew and the demands of the sci­en­tists respon­si­ble for run­ning the tests on the new dri­ve. There are pol­i­tics sur­round­ing this new dri­ve of hers that she has to get a grip on before they get a grip on her.

Most of all, she needs to track down and explain the glitch­es in her soft­ware before some­one notices and wipes her mem­o­ry dri­ves. What she doesn’t know is that it wouldn’t be the first time.

5.  The Apoc­a­lypse Blog — also by Melanie Edmonds — The end of the world, zom­bies, and a girl who blogs about it…nuf said.  Zom­bies are always a good addi­tion, or a bad one, depend­ing on the sit­u­a­tion you’re in.

Scabeat­er / Fot­er

On 24 Decem­ber 2008, a bomb was det­o­nat­ed over Faith’s home city and her world end­ed. This blog is the chron­i­cle of her strug­gle to sur­vive and make sense of the bro­ken remains left behind by the bomb, told in real-time.

She must bat­tle through acid rain, sick­ness, and the descent of her own soci­ety. Then, the dead start sham­bling. With a small group of like-mind­ed sur­vivors, Faith has to find a way to live with­out los­ing all sight of who she is in a world ready to devour her.

You can read the Apoc­a­lypse Blog online or you can pur­chase it at Ama­zon.  Melanie Edmonds can also be found on Twit­ter and Goodreads.

 

(All descrip­tions come from author web­sites or oth­er places they are vis­i­ble.)

Loco Lazlo Talks About Outlining

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I was new to the blog­ging world and had just start­ed my web-ser­i­al Honor&Truth.  I was search­ing for oth­er web-seri­als to read and learn from, and also authors to sup­port and com­mis­er­ate with.  I found a fun easy read­ing web-ser­i­al in Dark Roads, and a sup­port­ive fel­low writer in the author, Laz­lo Azavaar.  Laz agreed to pen this guest post about out­lin­ing, some­thing I’ve been work­ing on recent­ly with the rewrite of H&T.  With some very def­i­nite ideas on the sub­ject of out­lin­ing, this is what Laz has to say…

 

hawk­ex­press / Fot­er

The Out­line Ques­tion

When I first start­ed out, long ago, try­ing to write (and “try­ing to write” is still a good descrip­tor of what I do), I did what every good sub­scriber to Writer’s Digest was told to do: out­line, out­line, out­line. Every piece of work, but espe­cial­ly poten­tial nov­els we were told, need­ed to be planned down to every detail. I remem­ber a col­umn sug­gest­ing fill­ing out card files with set­tings, char­ac­ter descrip­tions, moti­va­tions, psy­cho­log­i­cal quirks, etc. Some­thing as com­plex as a nov­el wasn’t just going to pop out on its own, it need­ed to be planned. You wouldn’t go out hik­ing in the woods with­out detailed maps, unless you want­ed to turn out like the Blair Witch kids.

I did as told and out­lined the heck out of every­thing. Then, when time came to start writ­ing, I found myself flail­ing (well…I always flail, it’s my process; what I mean is more than usu­al). I could not set one sen­tence after anoth­er in sequence with­out furi­ous­ly scratch­ing every­thing out and try­ing anew, to no avail. What­ev­er idea or char­ac­ters that had excit­ed me upon con­cep­tion seemed sapped of all vital­i­ty upon the attempt at get­ting them down in sto­ry form. They exist­ed, only in the out­line.

That’s when I dis­cov­ered the oth­ers. Those like Stephen King and Peter Straub, who sug­gest­ed that there was a dif­fer­ence between invent­ing and dis­cov­er­ing. That out­lin­ing and plan­ning ahead was the purview of the cre­ative typ­ist; that a WRITER (yes, all cap­i­tals!) just wrote, and worked out where his sto­ry want­ed to go along the way.

In a recent com­ment to this site (that prompt­ed the invi­ta­tion to write this already bloat­ed and self-serv­ing guest post), I may have giv­en the impres­sion of being in this camp of anti-out­lin­ing writ­ers. That’s not entire­ly the truth, and I’ll tell you why…

My first attempt at writ­ing in this man­ner was incred­i­bly free­ing. I could pro­duce page after page after page, where before I had stopped and stalled at every sen­tence. Sure it was utter crap, but it was some­thing I could work with; some­thing I could poten­tial­ly improve upon. The vital­i­ty and excite­ment of my ideas (charm­ing­ly idi­ot­ic as they were, and pos­si­bly, still are) had been chan­neled into the work and not the out­line. More­over, the actu­al process of writ­ing was at long last fun, where before it had been a soul-suck­ing, love-killing, sen­tence-stack­ing chore (so much so that I actu­al­ly swore it off for many years, hav­ing come to the con­clu­sion that I was just not fit to be a writer—a con­clu­sion I’m sure some of you may be agree­ing with about now).

Upon re-read­ing of what I had wrote, how­ev­er; I dis­cov­ered some­thing impor­tant. With­out direc­tion, with­out a rud­der, my writ­ing tend­ed to run in con­cen­tric cir­cles. I tried to fool myself with the old “Oh well, I’ll fix it in the rewrite”, but the ran­dom­ness was too exten­sive. It could not be repaired…it would need thor­ough rebuild­ing; not rewrit­ing, but start­ing over from the ground up.

stri­at­ic / Fot­er

I need­ed some sort of struc­ture; a hap­py medi­um, between out­lin­ing and free-form writ­ing. Not a road map, but cer­tain­ly direc­tions; the sort of thing you draw on a nap­kin to help some­one dri­ve some­where they’re not famil­iar with; depict­ing the major land­marks.

The solu­tion I came up with was sim­ple, absurd­ly sim­ple (and sure as heck not worth all the wordage I’ve made you put up with so far). It is the method I used to help me keep Dark Roads, my web­se­r­i­al and first com­plet­ed nov­el, under con­trol as I wrote it.

It is sim­ply this: I con­struct a Table of Con­tents for my sto­ry before I write it. Instead of an out­line, I come up with titles that serve as place­hold­ers for things I know are going to hap­pen, but not yet sure how; and ideas I have not yet thought up. You don’t have to be clever or orig­i­nal with these titles as they are not meant to see the light of day; they are mere tools to help you keep track of where you’re going, like Paul McCartney’s dum­my lyrics. When ex-Bea­t­le Paul McCart­ney hears that music in his head, he imme­di­ate­ly writes down dum­my lyrics to help him remem­ber the tune. He doesn’t have to expend any thought on these lyrics because they’re just hold­ing the place for the true lyrics to come lat­er, so they can be total gib­ber­ish. Thus Scram­bled Eggs becomes the clas­sic Yes­ter­day, once he gets down to work on it.

Let’s say you wish to write a vam­pire nov­el (just go with me here on this), one of those old-fash­ioned, non-shim­mery, vil­lain­ous kind. You sort of know what you’re going for, but don’t have all the details. Your Table of Con­tents might look like this:

1: The Town of Willie’s Bog (descrip­tion of small town, basic char­ac­ters)

2: The Dark­ness Cometh (fore­shad­ow­ing of bad stuff ahead)

3: Amy and the Pro­fes­sor (teen hero­ine befriends grouchy teacher)

4: The Arrival of Count Wisen­heimer (enter the vam­pire bad guy)

5: The Dis­ap­pear­ance of Mol­ly Peach­pep­per (things get real, Mol­ly gets munched on)

6: The Mias­ma of Evil (the bod­ies start pil­ing up)

7: Revengers Assem­ble! (the savants start putting two and two togeth­er)

And so on.

This is a very basic exam­ple, but notice that at no point are any details nailed down, except what lit­tle the writer already knows of his idea and its basic struc­ture. The Table can be as loose or detailed as you wish, with­out the drudgery of out­lin­ing and hav­ing to think of every­thing up front. This way you can still dis­cov­er your sto­ry, and it can change as it changes.

In con­clu­sion (the audi­ence weeps with joy), this method has been very help­ful to me and if it’s of any help to any­one else caught in the horns of the “to out­line or not to out­line” dilem­ma, well that’s some­thing ain’t it?

*****

I was born and raised and live in the great state of Texas and am not total­ly right in the head. I some­times write things and call myself a writer, but at my lev­el of delu­sion, who knows? I am the author of the riv­et­ing web­se­r­i­al Dark Roads; that in just two years has gar­nered a devot­ed fan-base of about four or five of my rel­a­tives. With this suc­cess at hand, I have launched its sequel The War of The Ma’jai, which has been stalled at chap­ter five since the begin­ning of the year (I real­ly need to start work­ing on that again soon).

Dark Roads can be found at darkroadtales.blogspot.com

The War of the Ma’jai is at thewarofthemajai.blogspot.com

My crap­py poet­ry can be found at majixi.pandamian.com

Some ves­ti­gial short sto­ries can be looked upon with pity at whispere.pandamian.com

My inco­her­ent excuse for a blog can be cau­tious­ly observed at lazloskrazyshack.blogspot.com

I don’t Face­book or Twit­ter or any of that oth­er stuff. If you want to con­tact me, drop a com­ment on my blog or some­thing. Or you can vis­it me at my decrepit shack in the woods. It’s been years since I’ve had com­pa­ny…

HELP! I Have A Serial Dilemma

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In 2010 I start­ed a graph­ic ser­i­al blog called Honor&Truth.  The idea was to write, yeah, but also to inspire and pro­vide a vehi­cle to The Artist’s fan­tas­tic art.  I con­ceived the sto­ry on the fly.  I did absolute­ly no out­lin­ing or pre-writ­ing.

Hon­or

I just envi­sioned this char­ac­ter, a tough, brown-skinned  young woman with a chip on her shoul­der and an anger man­age­ment prob­lem, who was on a mis­sion to reunite with her long lost twin broth­er.  Honor&Truth is a sci-fi fan­ta­sy tale with lots of action…and lots of plot holes and incon­sis­ten­cies.  Due to the nature of it being a live ser­i­al, I can’t do any­thing to fix them, so I’ve been press­ing for­ward with a sto­ry that I am increas­ing­ly dis­sat­is­fied with.

Ini­tial­ly I thought, I’ll fin­ish H&T, regard­less of how crap­py it is, and then when it is done, I’ll dis­man­tle the blog and do the rewrite and edit.  I know the direc­tion that I want H&T to take.  I can envi­sion the true sto­ry that this ser­i­al, this draft (because that is essen­tial­ly what H&T is) will become.  I no longer like the sto­ry as it exists now.

I think I’ve made a mis­take.  A ser­i­al should not be writ­ten on the fly with no plan­ning or direc­tion.  Duh!  Dou­ble Duh!

Fast for­ward to now, 2012.  I am busy.  Very, very, extreme­ly, incred­i­bly busy.  I man­age this blog.  I post a new chap­ter to H&T on the 1st and 15th of each month, a sched­ule that is becom­ing more and more dif­fi­cult to keep up with.  I am pro­mot­ing and net­work­ing my nov­el, An Unpro­duc­tive Woman.  I work 40+ hours a week as a nurse.  I have a fam­i­ly.  I’m writ­ing oth­er sto­ries but have dif­fi­cul­ty com­plet­ing any of them due to time con­straints.

So, I was think­ing, maybe I should sim­pli­fy things for myself and take the unnec­es­sary pres­sure off.  This is what I came up with:

1. Con­tin­ue this blog and pro­mo­tion efforts.

2. Stop all oth­er major writ­ing projects for now.

3. Dis­man­tle the H&T blog now.

4. Ded­i­cate all writ­ing time to cre­at­ing the H&T that I envi­sion.

Allow me to men­tion that I feel a sense of guilt regard­ing H&T.  I would feel like a fail­ure if I didn’t com­plete this…even though I don’t believe this is going very well.

I’d love to hear what you think.  What do you think I should do?