We have been running this experiment since the middle of March, posting one or two chapters a week of the novel I am currently writing — The Plainsrunner. It is a bit of a shock to realize that we’ve been at it for four months already. That’s a lot longer than it took Sage to get to the city, and she had to walk.
It occurred to me that I should write this halftime report, to explore the process and how I feel about it. It’s what people do, right? They always do it in hockey and soccer games. People working on an extended project usually take some time partway through to assess their progress and make plans for its completion. So why shouldn’t we do it for this book? …
The first thing I’d like to say is that I’m enjoying writing this book, and I’m enjoying sharing it as we go. I’ve never done this before, at least not just like this. I have shared portions of uncompleted novels before. While Green Comet was released whole and complete, the sequels in the trilogy — Parasite Puppeteers and The Francesians — were released in portions. What I called extensions, because I was just adding extensions to the Green Comet universe. Parasite Puppeteers had eight extensions, but The Francesians had only four, because I discovered that there’s a lot of work involved in proofing and formatting and releasing and announcing several different versions of a story, and four is easier than eight. Now, with The Plainsrunner, it looks as if I’ve taken a step backward. Maybe even two or more steps. Because instead of releasing it in four or eight parts, it looks as if it will end up being around thirty parts by the time we’re done. Fortunately I’m only releasing one version, PDF, so that cuts down the work quite a bit. Enough that I’m still able to enjoy the process of writing and sharing the book.
So, what have I enjoyed about it? Primarily, what I always enjoy about writing novels. The months, or more likely years, of focusing every day on adding to the growing story. Watching the story develop as I write it. Seeing what happens next. Learning more about my characters as I get to know them better. Pointing them where I want them to go, and following along, describing what they do to get there.
I have the advantage of you, my readers, because I know what my characters are going to do and what is going to happen to them. I know how the story is going to end even before I start writing it. I know whether this character is going to die, and whether that one is going to live happily ever after. But at the same time, they can surprise me, just as much as they can surprise you. I will know what has to happen in this day’s writing as I put in the necessary points to move the story along, but sometimes the characters can surprise me by how they do it. Sometimes new characters can even appear out of nowhere. For example, I met Buzzard, a major character in the Green Comet trilogy, at exactly the same time you did: when the door to the shop swung open. So there is a lot to enjoy about writing, and it’s all there in the writing of The Plainsrunner.
How could it be better? More downloads. More readers. More feedback. Especially more feedback. We’re in this together, you and I, and you can help by letting me know how it’s going. Is it worth your effort to read it? I know it’s worth it to keep writing it, but what about all that extra work to share it?
And that is the halftime report on the serialization of my novel, The Plainsrunner, on OliverOnline. Briefly: so far, so good. What do you think?