Structuring your writing

Plus a launch date for my next serialised novel

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting a workshop by crime writer ES Thomson as part of the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival which was a delight. There are many perks to working at the National Centre for Writing, not least of which is sitting in on workshops. ES challenged the participants to a series of exercises and I thought I may as well join in. I even write by hand, as she suggested.

Other than occasional note-taking and problem solving I never write by hand. My typing is generally faster and more accurate, so is a better 1:1 representation of what my brain is thinking. There’s the added complication that even I can barely read my own handwriting. I mean look at the absolute state of this:

Andy Hamilton wrong a book called Longhand recently which is published entirely in his own script. I don’t think readers would thank me if I tried something similar.

Structure!

Useful link time. Also in the day job, I worked on putting together a pack of free resources all about Structure in novels. Lots of good stuff in there from Rob Shearman, Rebecca Watson and Chitra Ramaswamy. Here’s the fab pod with Rebecca and Chitra, all about Little Scratch (which I now need to read ASAP):

I contributed an article for the pack all about using Scrivener to wrangle the structure of complex, long projects. You can give that a read here.

Got any additional tips for structuring stories? Let me and others know:

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Introducing my next big serial

I’ve been developing my next serial for most of this year. My last, No Adults Allowed, wrapped up in September 2020, so it’s about time I got started on the next one.

I’m excited to announce that Tales from the Triverse will debut on 1 October 2021 in early access via this very newsletter. If you like crime dramas, fantasy adventures or high concept science fiction this should be in your wheelhouse. I know that sounds like an unusual blending of genres, and you’d be right, but trust me. This is going to be a lot of fun.

I’m trying a new release model this time round, whereby paid newsletter subscribers get early access and bonus materials, before chapters are available for free on Wattpad a five weeks later for people who don’t mind waiting a bit longer.

The idea is that this allows everyone to read the story regardless of their financial situation, while offering the opportunity to further support my writing (and get some cool extras) if somebody wants to and is able. A lot of writers are locking all their material away behind paywalls, which doesn’t really appeal to me. Hopefully this bridges the gap.

The opening chapters will be available as a free preview, so you can find out if the book is going to be your sort of thing before committing. You can of course also check out my previous books for free, too:

  • A Day of Faces is a weird YA adventure following a teenager girl who looks a bit like a snake. It won a Watty Award in 2016 and is a lot of fun.

  • The Mechanical Crown is an epic fantasy saga, big in every way you can imagine. It’s about lots of things, including power, isolationism, prejudice and airships. Obviously airships.

  • No Adults Allowed is a whittled-to-the-bone YA novel that’s a combination of Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness, but as an optimistic take on the end of the world written by someone who doesn’t hate children. Paid subscribers get an ebook of the revised edition.

Want to write your own serial?

I’m all-in on serialised storytelling. You might have noticed. I’ve been doing it since 2015 and it’s opened doors for me and connected me to thousands of readers around the world. In the last six months, serialisation of literature has suddenly become a hot topic again, with indie and established authors making a lot of noise about new projects.

I mean, Salmon Rushdie has jumped on board. He has his very own Substack where he’s sharing short pieces as well as an upcoming serial:

That’s not a small thing. Substack has been courting prose and comics writers throughout 2021 and it’s started attracting media attention. Rushdie in particular was all over the news. I’m sure it’s left many quite bemused.

Anyway, point is that back in 2016 I wrote a guide called How to Write Serialised Fiction. If you’re a subscriber to this newsletter you will have received a link to an ebook download. It was quite popular at the time of its release but is now rather out of date, so I’ve been updating it to v2, which is now ready to go. It’s extensively re-written and expanded. I’ll be serialising it on this newsletter (meta!) starting 20 October, and I hope it’ll be really useful for any writers intrigued by the form. This new version is a chunky 25k, so there’s a ton of useful info in there.

What else?

I interviewed Tom Whyman for the Writing Life podcast, all about his book Infinitely Full of Hope. It’s about becoming a parent, and noting that the world is frequently a giant hot mess. And he wrote it before Covid-19.

I’ll be sharing more info on Tales from the Triverse very soon. In some ways it is a lot more experimental than what I’ve done before, so I’m excited to start revealing it to you all.

I’ve also been busy judging the children’s award for the East Anglian Book Awards, which has reminded me of how rich and wondrous children’s literature can be. Amazing stuff, and I can’t wait to talk more about the entries.

As always, thanks for reading.

Simon K Jones