Mistakes made when writing a short story as a serial

I recently started writing a short story, “The Encourager”, and decided to release it in five or six parts. I was going to post each part here on Mondays. It was just an way to get me to write at least a little every week, knowing that I had a sort of deadline to meet. I released the first three weeks of the story without any trouble.

But after posting part three and thinking about part four, I realized I had some problems which crippled the story.

I had outlined the entire story, including the resolution, before I began writing. I thought it was a good idea to know where the story was going before I committed it to the Interwebs. But I didn’t actually write the whole thing up front, and so I made a large mistake.

When reading over the story I realized that there was one of those “why don’t they just…?” moments. You know, like when you’re watching Star Trek and you nudge your older brother to ask, “Why don’t they just beam part of the hull away?” or, “Why don’t they just have the computer fly the ship?”

While I realize it’s blasphemous to ask questions about Star Trek on the Internet, it’s perfectly acceptable to shred my story on a blog.

I have a “superpower” in my story called “Pushing” – the ability to influence another person’s thinking. The problem is that I had someone killed at short range by a well-prepared team of soldiers. I realized that no one would knowingly bring handguns close to someone who could effectively control your mind. Instead I decided to carry out the killing with distant snipers (“Why don’t they just have long-range sniper support?”). Of course, I noticed this issue as I considered the later parts of the story, and my change in tactics dramatically changes what’s possible for an ending.

So, I’m re-writing the beginning and middle of the story and I’ll release modified versions once I’m done it all. I might still schedule the parts serially, or I might just post the whole thing. We’ll see.

So, if I don’t get the revised parts one to four out the door by tomorrow night, please forgive me. If you have other feedback about any part of the story, original or modified, I’d welcome it. Thanks!

[I should note that there’s nothing special about the serial format here. Each week’s “episode” isn’t a scene or anything. I just wanted to break it up for the writing process. I’m not sure this was a good idea, except that it was instructive.]

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