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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Indie Life/Writing Wibbles

Welcome to the Indie Life edition of Writing Wibbles. Don’t forget to hit the linky at the end and see what other indies have to say about their travails, triumphs, and tips this month.

In last week’s Writing Wibbles, I described my mobile writing station that consists of a smartphone, Bluetooth keyboard, and +Evernote. I was delighted when +Katherine Hajer used that post as a springboard to talk about ferreting out the root causes that keep you from writing.

Katherine made a good point about my post: I didn’t present it as a “this is how you get more writing time” post, but rather “this is how I get more writing time.” There’s a zillion “writing tips” blogs and websites out there. Sometimes, advice on one site conflicts with another’s—but they all agree I’m doin’ it w0rNg because I edit as I go and often revise previous passages while I write new ones.

This month, I want to say hello to writers just getting started, unsure of how to find an audience and how to develop as a writer.

This is what worked for me.

When I decided I wanted to start writing intentional fiction1 again, after a long hiatus after college, I already had a blog. It seemed like a good place to post a few short stories I had sitting in my desk, and I did. Not much came of it, but infinitely more people read them on my blog than they could have in my desk.

Later on, I joined Twitter, and one day I stumbled across something called #FridayFlash. The premise is simple: write a piece of flash fiction (1000 words or less), post it on your blog, and tweet links with the #FridayFlash hashtag (and don't forget to add it to the collector). I met many of my bestest Twitter buddies through #FridayFlash.

Writing flash fiction helped me develop as a writer by focusing on the moment, and what’s important in that moment. Flash doesn’t absolutely require elements found in longer stories, like plot or character development, but it’s cool if you can fit them in. I know artistically-talented people who can sketch a few lines and make you see so much more; a skilled flash writer can do the same in a handful of words.

There’s an unwritten rule of #FridayFlash: if someone comes by and leaves a comment, it’s a courtesy to do the same for them. You don’t need to be on Twitter to get involved; just hit the collector and check out things that look interesting to you.

One thing I realized when writing short pieces: 2000 words might be a short story, but it’s a hell of a long blog post. And there were longer stories wanting to get out. Like FAR Future.

While I was writing flash, I was also writing much longer pieces, and began serializing them on my blog. Soon after I finished FAR Future, a flash piece called White Pickups blew up into something huge and I was off to the races again. Then, I discovered TuesdaySerial. It works much like FridayFlash: put up your latest episode, tweet links with the #TuesdaySerial hashtag, add a link to the collector. After White Pickups came Accidental Sorcerers and others. Somewhere along the line, I was invited to join the TuesdaySerial staff.

If you’re brave (or just crazy like me), you can start serializing a story before it’s done. It does give you an incentive to keep writing, and sometimes your readers give you ideas for subplots or can help you get unstuck. Serials don’t get the readership that flash does, simply because serials require more dedication on readers’ parts as well as the writer. But serial readers can turn out to be more dedicated fans in the end.

Feel free to share what has worked for you in the comments. Thanks for reading, and check out some of the other Indie Life writers this week!

1 My dayjob is technical writing. Some of that turned into fiction, but not by intent.


  1. So interesting that you went from short-short to longer to serialization! I've done the opposite - going from long novels to novellas and now to serialization! In fact, I'm launching my first serial next week, and doing exactly what you say - taking the brave/risky/crazy? step of writing and releasing at the same time. (Actually I've pre-written about half of the season, but I'll be writing the second half as readers have the first). I'm actually publishing on Amazon (not my blog), so there's that too... eeps! But it should be a grand adventure.

    Thanks for joining us on Indie Life!

  2. Sometimes, advice on one site conflicts with another’s—but they all agree I’m doin’ it w0rNg because I edit as I go and often revise previous passages while I write new ones. <<<< Pssh! That's the great thing about writing. There is no wrong way. Everyone has to find their own. If editing as you go works for you then DO IT!!!! =D

  3. Right now, at one blog my dogs, Sir Poops and Hair Ball do What's Your Nosh, in support of the new and Indie Author. And at my other blog, I just started writing about psychics and intuitives with some of my own personal stories.

    I'll have to figure out my twitter handle. I forget what it is all the time.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    Found you thru Indie Life

  4. So true about the saying, "It works for me." People try to say you have to do it this way or that way, but what works for one person might not work for another.

    And that's interesting about the serials. I've found that my stories got shorter and shorter when I was doing flash fiction and then suddenly they were getting longer and longer. I guess we learn what works for us and expand upon it. :)

  5. With writing advice, the best thing is to take it, adapt it, maybe bend it to suit you, because everyone's different... and everyone's advice is a product of advice they themselves received. I love that there are really no rules in writing!

  6. When I first put my toe into the writing water it was to write flash and short fiction. TuesdaySerial sounds very cool. I'll have to check it out! Thanks!

  7. Hi, Larry,
    Like you, I tend to edit as I go, in that I don't leave a chapter until I'm satisfied with what I've written. When you post to a writing network, as I used to do, it pays to get each chapter as clean as possible before posting.

  8. Hi all!

    Susan, I thought I'd settle in as a short story writer. Then something bigger wanted out! I'm working on a series of YA fantasy novellas now; they seem like a good fit for a rainy afternoon. What's your serial going to be about?

    Thanks, Patricia. That's what I decided to do. Sometimes I have crazy-productive kind of days, others I seem to piddle around but still end up with 1000 words or thereabouts.

    Hi Shelly, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! I'm borrowing your dogs' names for the next dog we end up with ;-)

    Cherie, that's really interesting. But you imply you're not going to write more FridayFlash? I always enjoy reading your stuff when I see it.

    Nick, that's a good way of putting it. "Safe" formulaic stories might sell, but the formulae now are far different than from 80 years ago. Somewhere along the line, things changed. And they'll continue to change.

    Ansha, it'll be good to see you there! Just let me know if you have any questions.

    J.L., that's a good point. One of my goals this year is to join (or start if necessary) a local writing group. You need clean copy for that, too!

  9. YA fantasy novellas sound like fun! My serial is called The Debt Collector - it's a future-noir about a world where you life worth is calculated on the open market and going into debt risks a lot more than your credit rating. :) I launch next week! Should be an adventure.

  10. Larry, your writing path sounds kind of fun and amazing! Thanks for sharing it with us, for someone like me, who has always thought novels and settled into short novels (50-65K) you've given me another way to look at things! Thanks, Heidi

  11. Great post Larry, like you Friday Flash helped me develop as a writer and Tuesday Serial is a great way to not only write a novel but get feed back as to whether it is working or not.

  12. Sounds like fun, Susan!

    Heidi, I hope it helps. Like I said, this is what worked for me.

    And all of you should follow Helen here — she's had some success herself with her serials!

  13. May the writing continue to go well, Larry. And for all that write.

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  15. I can't edit as I go along (or I work quite hard to stop myself.) Else I'd never finish because I'd be looking at the words, each of them, deciding if they were the right shape (let alone the right word itself.)

    I do that with the sentences too - balance, rhythm, flow. I can't let that happen when I write the first draft. I only wish the results of all the examination on passes 2...n actually matched the images/sounds in my head.

    But that's a story for another day...

    'Twas interesting to read how your writing developed, Larry. As with you, #FridayFlash has had a big impact on my work.

    Serializing a story as it's developing has history behind it, and some of the greatest writers. I wish you well with yours.

  16. Friday Flash and Tuesday Serial are the sort of writer's communities I've been looking for a very long time. I am so very grateful I came across them.

    This is a great summary -- it's been really impressive both reading your work here and seeing the books come out.

  17. Thanks, Boran!

    Kevin, fortunately I don't get into THAT great a detail when I'm writing! I think I'd have to just write forward like "everyone else" if that were the case. Thanks for the well-wishes, and best of luck to you as well!

    Katherine, I've enjoyed your stories as well. It won't be long before you're launching your own books and watching them try to catch that updraft…


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