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Nineteen months after I started it, I have just finished writing No Time for Ducking to the point I'd originally intended to reach.

While the fic's not terribly long, it's has, obviously, taken me a long time to reach this point. Apart from the outside factors of the rollercoaster of a nineteen months that RL has been, having to divert my attentions to various challenges and generally just being a 'when the mood takes me' kind of writer, one thing that has held me back is that I feel that Ducking is very much my version of events - it's how I picture things happening - if not in the specifics then in that quick and all-consuming love affair: my explanation for how things go so very wrong in HBP, and DH helped me out there with the early marriage, so I've agonised about the relationship progression and the mindset of Remus and Tonks along the way, to quite a large extent.

At several points I've considered making this a full OotP, HBP, DH length fic. At others I've just wanted it finished because I hate to keep people waiting for my schedule, and it's been so nice - so very nice - that people have asked about it and maintained interest over all that time. Over the last week, I've gravitated back to wanting to continue the storyline of this 'verse, and I'm pretty much married to the idea of doing that.

What I can't decide is whether to do that in Ducking or whether to think of this as a series and to pick up their story in a new fic. This 'verse already has three separate fics: Of Mischief and Responsibly, No Time for Ducking and Asinus Protego, so I could very well use fic events to flesh out the in between. I just can't make up my mind, though, and I've never been able to through out all the time I've been thinking about this.

So here is my question to you: how do you feel as a reader about following a fic serial? Does it make the overall story arc harder to follow, or do you like the idea of separate storylines within an ongoing plot of relationship development? As a writer, have you ever faced the same dilemma? Those of you who are writing or have written a series - why did you choose to write that way and do you ever regret that decision? Those of you who are writing long epics - do you ever wish you'd chosen to break it up a little?

Thanks in advance if you have any input to this - I'm in such a quandary!

Hope you all have a good weekend and happy May Day weekend to those on my side of the pond.

Date: 2008-05-03 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shimotsuki.livejournal.com
First off, hooray for more "Ducking"! Nice pink hotels to look forward to. :) I would definitely enjoy reading more in that ficverse, whether as an extended version of "Ducking" or as a series.

I'm also very much a 'when the mood takes me' writer, so I've found it very freeing to work with a series structure. By setting up my OotP-HBP-DH Remus/Tonks story "Kaleidoscope" as a series, I can work on whatever part seems most compelling at the moment. As you mentioned, I also like that this strategy lets me use challenges and events to fit new pieces into the series without feeling that I have to write the whole thing chronologically. Plus, it's easier to mix different structures and narrative styles in a series -- it would be odd to do much of that in a single story -- and that's something else I think is fun, as well as good writing practice.

I guess a downside to writing "Kaleidoscope" as a series is I do feel compelled to make sure each part of it is a stand-alone fic, so I can never assume readers know details from other parts of the series.

I'll be interested to see what people say in response to your question from the perspective of a reader following a WIP. Maybe it is harder as a reader to keep up with a series than with a chaptered story that is written chronologically.

Date: 2008-05-03 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] godricgal.livejournal.com
I'm also very much a 'when the mood takes me' writer, so I've found it very freeing to work with a series structure.

I think that is what's most attracting me to the idea of writing a series and not being constrained to write the next bit of the story if I've got an idea for a something that takes place a little later on, or even a little earlier, and it would be nice to play around with different styles.

I also think I'd fall into the trap of writing a lot about very short period of time - Ducking so far only takes place over a period of five days or so - and so it's not only going to end up a monster of an epic but it's going to take me years. Though, one of the reasons I have decided to do this is that I no longer feel there is a pressure to complete a project within a certain timeframe beyond a need to keep it ticking over for the sake of readers.

I should know the answer to this, as a reader of yours, but do you strictly keep to not mentioning events and details from other fics, or can you sometimes slip them in and still have the fic make sense as a standalone?

Thank you for your input and for being keen to follow Ducking Remus and Tonks further down the line. :)

Date: 2008-05-03 10:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shimotsuki.livejournal.com
do you strictly keep to not mentioning events and details from other fics, or can you sometimes slip them in and still have the fic make sense as a standalone?

Oh, I definitely make reference to details and events from other fics in the series whenever it seems to fit (as long as it doesn't feel like introducing the detail will actually be confusing to a new reader), because I'm hoping that will give the series more internal coherence in the end. For example, some of the things Remus looks at in his Gringotts vault in "The Things We Remember" will show up again in different stories later in the series, but I think they worked okay as stand-alone scene-setting details in that fic, so it's not a problem if people don't make the connection.

It's a little harder in cases where something that happened in an earlier installment is crucial to the plot in a later installment, and I have to find a way to set it up again. POV switches can help with this, since I'm already using a variety of POVs in the series. So the next piece after "Unattainable" (the first-kiss fic, Tonks POV) will start with Remus fretting over how he could possibly have let Tonks kiss him.

Or sometimes a little explanation to another character can set the stage: I'm planning to start the wedding fic (Arthur POV) with Tonks asking Arthur to be a witness, which means she can explain enough about the circumstances of the rushed engagement to bring people up to speed who haven't read "Asking for Forever", the engagement fic.

One thing that came up in [livejournal.com profile] mrstater's comment that I've definitely been thinking about has to do with plot trajectory. I'm trying to give "Kaleidoscope" an overall plot trajectory as a series (let's hope I can manage that half as well as [livejournal.com profile] mrstater did with TH) as well as having a mini climax and resolution for each story in the series. But for my AU fics, even if I start calling them a series, that one is really just a random collection of stories that take place in the same ficverse...no overall plot arc there! So it's nice that the series structure allows for both these options.

Date: 2008-05-03 04:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrstater.livejournal.com
Well, in my case, I didn't really come into fandom with any intention of being very involved. My interest in R/T was such that there were a few missing moments I wanted to write, and I thought that would be my "fix." Boy, was I wrong! By the time I'd written five or six stories in the same ficverse, my interest in the characters had only grown, and I just kept writing stories as they came to me.

I never really thought a whole lot about whether it was hard for readers to follow TH with the way it was jumping around. While I think it's caused some confusion here and there from time to time, most people seemed to have followed all right, and I do like the freedom of being able to skip around and tell whatever story I'm in the mood for, or inspired by a challenge to write -- which I think is one thing about chaptered fics that slows me down; I get impatient or uninspired and wish I could tell some other part of the story, but I can't yet!

From time to time I've wondered if TH wouldn't have been better as one long fic, for organizational purposes, but I don't think it's suffered from being a series, and I do find working in smaller doses a lot easier to handle, and I like how short story, or short chapter fic, allows you to work with themes on a more compact, introspective level. You can spend more time on things than a large epic might allow.

I think there's a lot to be said about the steady build-up to payoff in a chaptered fic as opposed to writing a series out of order; then again, if you do write a series in order, I think you can get the same thing; and yet again, I think as long as a story stands well enough on its own, even in a part of a series, you get that same payoff -- for instance, I don't feel at all cheated knowing what happens in Asinus as you're still writing Ducking, and I do think that's another fun aspect of series, knowing where the author's going, but seeing how they build to that point.

There aren't that many series going on in R/T, it seems, but I do know I enjoy reading [livejournal.com profile] shimotsuki's work as she puts it out, and I look forward to going back and reading everything in chronological order one day. And I've enjoyed series in other fandoms, so...I think I've mostly been unhelpful!

Go you for finishing. I can't wait to read and beta for you. :)

Date: 2008-05-03 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] godricgal.livejournal.com
I think there's a lot to be said about the steady build-up to payoff in a chaptered fic as opposed to writing a series out of order; then again, if you do write a series in order, I think you can get the same thing; and yet again, I think as long as a story stands well enough on its own, even in a part of a series, you get that same payoff...

I wonder if this touches on something that [livejournal.com profile] patriot_jackie was getting at when she said that R/T was different to other fandoms in being so much more character driven than plot driven. We have certain checkpoints from canon: we know they get together at some point during OotP, we know Remus goes underground at the beginning of HPB and that they get back together before the funeral and are married before DH starts. The reader knows these things are going to happen, so it becomes a question of how, and perhaps it is this that makes R/T more suited to writing in a series because there are those marked points for the payoff moment and it's how did they get together, how did they break up, how did they get back together and how did they get married, and it's easy to break this up into individual stories, each with their own themes and self-contained plots. That's probably glaringly obvious, but thinking that through has rather put it in perspective for me.

Certainly TH didn't want for that climactic moment -- or several -- and each story did have its own high point, which I found satisfying as a reader because I had something to keep me going while you're moving through the timeline and building up to the really big points.

Thanks for your thoughts - I'm definitely leaning towards the series option at the moment!

Date: 2008-05-03 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrstater.livejournal.com
You know, I hadn't really thought about it like that before, but that's a good point -- there is something episodic by nature about R/T. Maybe that's why I find long WIPs more difficult to do -- it's so much more work to create a plotty story around which to put aspects of their relationship, lol.

Date: 2008-05-03 07:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patriot-jackie.livejournal.com
Sweet! :D More Ducking is certainly something to squee about!

As far as fic series, I think, from an viewpoint that's in a few different fandoms, that R/T fandom is more series driven than the epic chapter fics. Not that abundance or "structural popularity" should have much, if any, bearing on your decision, but R/T has a lot more of the fic series work than any other fandom I have been and am in. From that same viewpoint, I think it's something to take advantage of; R/T readers obviously enjoy it and are used to the stories unfolding in that way.

Namely, I think it's because R/T is extremely character driven; epic fics usually entail some sort of adventerous plotline to hold attention and help the pace foster the development. Naturally, a fic that spans the books like that would probably run into action eventually, but with the series format, it's easier to skip past those parts, which is a real asset for straight-out character development. Action or no action is what I consider for every chaptered story I write - series or long fic?

Chapters also demand a certain level of moving forward; in comparison between the two structures, I feel like I have a lot more room to dilly-dally with character reactions and emotions in series as opposed to chapters.

Certainly not to beat down chaptered fics, because not only do I love to read/write them, but they have, I think, the best way to build up suspense, which I personally think is invaluable in any story. There's also the forced chronology they demand; even though it becomes burdensome at times, it's a nice feeling to know that everything's been covered up to such and such point. - Especially when you hit one of those undefiend crossroads that could go either way!

Anyway, hope that helped. Whichever way you choose to go, I know I'll enjoy it immensely!

Random PS: I asked my mom about WCs tonight; she laughed at me! ;)

Date: 2008-05-04 08:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gilpin25.livejournal.com
Hurray for finishing Ducking.:D

As a reader, I like following a fic serial - as you get to know and involved with that Remus and Tonks, it's fun anticipating where the author might go next. Perhaps hoping they'll touch on a favourite canon scene of mine, or enjoying the surprise when they do something completely different or unexpected. Unless you're writing AU, as you yourself have said, we all know the basic framework of their storyline, and it is the hows, whys, whens and wheres as the author interprets them, and the individuality of that particular Remus and Tonks and the writing which hooks me as a reader. I think I can safely say that you're the only writer who has sent them to a pink hotel in Wales for their get-together (I presume;)), but then that's the kind of thing you remember.

I don't think I've ever had any difficulty following when authors do flit around timewise - probably back to 'well, we all know their story anyway', or, at least, we think we do! - and being very much a write-what-takes-your-fancy-at-the-time person myself, I know I wouldn't be writing in strictly chronological order if I was doing one. [livejournal.com profile] shimotsuki mentioned that each fic has to work as a stand-alone fic with some sort of resolution (and so do that R/T; I don't think you can assume that people will automatically care about them in that individual story simply because it's part of a series, and because you as the writer care) and I do think that's important, especially if you want to get new readers interested enough to look back at previous fics and forwards to new ones.

As for following a chaptered fic, I'm now agreeing with [livejournal.com profile] patriot_jackie here - it's easier to build up suspense and anticipation, I think, particularly if the chapters are appearing regularly. But, obviously, you tend to be counting on your reader to know what's gone before all the time, to latch onto that R/T from the outset, and I think there must be a lot of pressure to keep up a regular output and finish it. Which is why I'm a great admirer of writers who can do so! It's often interesting to see how the writing evolves, and the changes that take place within the fic as that happens. Writers do do prequels, sequels and outtakes, of course, which is a way round not doing a 'please yourself' series if something didn't fit into it at the time.

Finally, I think you have to be realistic about what you can feasibly do writing-wise with that pesky RL thing (mentioning no names, but I know one hair-pulling writer currently surrounded by unfinished one-shots;)), and what you'll enjoy doing to take your mind off it! So best of luck sorting which option suits you best. :)

Date: 2008-05-07 08:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katyscarlett76.livejournal.com
Whilst novel length fics are fabulous, I sometimes find a quite like a series of smaller fics that are related but you don't have to read every single one to understand what is going on. Sometimes I just don't have the time or the energy to get involved into a 20 chapter or more fic so I like being able to dip in and out. [livejournal.com profile] mrstater's Transfigured Hearts series is a good example, I don't think I read it in sequence the first time but it didn't matter. If the fics are complete within themselves then I think it's fine to just write what you want to. And getting a new little ficlet every so often from a good writer is nicer than slogging through a novel length fic of a so-so writer, if people like your work then they'll be excited to see it whenever it appears or whatever timeframe it covers,that's what I think anyway.

I've been consiering a series myself, like you there are scenes I want to write but the thought of writing all the in between bits just to cover the time period in a chaptered fic really doesn't appeal and I know that I would probably then never finish but skipping in and out with a series of fics may be the way to go! Plus you have to balance RL as well and taking on something you're never gonna finish is kind of pointless and lets face it fanfic writing is supposed to be fun not a chore!


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