On Writing a Serial Novel

Violet WarLast Spring, I had announced that I was working on a free urban fantasy website called Violet War. The goal of the website was to promote a series of books I’ve been working on and offer the first draft of the series’ first book (Argentum) for free.

Since starting this project, I’ve found that writing a serial novel comes with its own set of challenges related to the fact that this is a novel of discovery.

In this book, the main character (Sophie Miller) is an exile (think convict) from her magical world. Sophie committed a terrible crime and was later experimented on by the Alchemists then imprisoned by them in a House of Illusion. Those experiments ripped apart her memories, so much so that when the illusion “breaks” she is forced her to deal with the world around her in unusual ways. At first, she doesn’t trust herself but later questions everything she sees.

These questions have turned into information dumps at times, so much so that some chapters rely on discussion rather than action to drive the plot. Fortunately, I’ve been able to catch those moments by sketching out the entire novel from beginning to end. Pacing is really important to me, because as a reader I get very bored when the story doesn’t move, so my chapters are relatively short. They range from one thousand to twenty-five hundred words for that reason.

Another way I’m circumventing those information dumps is by adding chapter breaks which are memories and pieces of info that Sophie knows. Once the “House of Illusion” is broken, she begins to remember bits and pieces of her former life. The things she remembers may seem innocuous at first, but might have a larger impact on the overall story in the end. (*hint*)

Technology has also played a big part in my presentation of this novel. If you look at the physical structure of how Argentum is laid out, you’ll see that there are section breaks in the book. This structure is intentional because of the way this template handles numeric chapters. If I didn’t have a section, then Chapter 10 would have shown up after Chapter 1, which would have made things really confusing for my readers.

I’m pretty excited to have made so much progress on my project this past weekend. This is definitely new territory for me as an author, and I hope you get the chance to read my work.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

Want an interview? If you’d like to interview me or request a guest blog post, please connect with me via the contact page, too. Due to time constraints and other communicative concerns, I typically don’t follow up on requests via social media.

Keen on sending fan mail? I am also happy to engage with readers and fans. Please note that I am unable to reply satisfactorily to certain types of queries related to the companies I work for due to the agreements I typically sign. If you have a question about a TV show or a line of books, the best way to get your answer is to contact the studio or publisher directly.

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