Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Serials and Anthologies By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Have you ever been asked to join with other writers to work on a serial story or an anthology? I’ve done several so I’ll try to describe what is meant by each and the advantages and disadvantages of doing this type of project.

Serial – This type of writing requires the participant to continue the story line (normally anyway) wherein each author does their own section but must continue with the H/H intact and same characters (you can add, though) and you must move the storyline forward using the GMC already building. An example of this is a project (entitled A Vow Fulfilled) I participated in two years ago but which only was published online this past winter.

  • Benefits: Working with different authors. Seeing their way of approaching a story and characterization vs. yours. Noting their voice(s) as compared with your own. If you do the serialization online, in bits, and do a blog hop you will see a jump in your blogs stats. It is a very nice gift for your readers. Also, for newbies like me, fans from your published author friends might take note of you for future reference (one hopes!)
  • Drawbacks: Trying to contribute/finish what someone or several other someones have started is difficult! When I first got my manuscript to add to I literally froze up. Could not imagine how I was going to write the next section. This is very different from brainstorming and writing your own story. Also, if you have a strong voice, like I do, you’re going to struggle to try to fit within the story and not stick out like a sore thumb (I failed!)

Serial/anthology – I think there can be a mix in which one is contributing to a single story but where the writer need only include a few elements. For example on Colonial Quills we did a Forted Frontier Christmas story that we published online for eleven consecutive weeks. Participants needed to include key points such as the fort and its surroundings and the time frame but could choose which characters were in their section.
  • Pros: Lots of fun! Flexibility to do your own thing but structure, too. There is no requirement to keep a story going. So honestly—I can’t think of any drawbacks!
Anthology - Wiki defines an anthology this way: An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts. In genre fiction anthology is used to categorize collections of shorter works such as short stories and short novels, usually collected into a single volume for publication.

The Christmas Cup of Cheer project that I am participating in for Guideposts Books (releasing October, 2013) will include 15 short stories in the anthology or collection. In this anthology there are some stipulations such as it being a Christmas story (and I also believe they had to be set in North America but I am not positive on that!)

Some collections are like the Cry of Freedom compilation. They are a series of published stories and novellas that release sequentially. In this series, in which I made my debut, authors are required to stay within a certain time frame and setting--in this case the Civil War in America during the year 1863. This series allows each author to independently write a story for publication. So an advantage is almost complete freedom. A slight disadvantage is you lose the working together component. But if you all participate in social media together, this can be offset.

Have any of the readers participated in a serial or anthology? What was your experience?
About the Author
Carrie Fancett Pagels writes “romantic” historical fiction. Carrie’s debut release Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance, a Kindle Civil War best seller,  is  part of a multi-author release headed up by Murray Pura. She is a contributor to a nonfiction anthology God’s Provision in Tough Times by Cynthia Howerter and La-Tan Murphy, releasing in June 2013.
Her short story "Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas" will appear in Guidepost Books A Christmas Cup of Cheer in 2013.

Carrie is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency and is owner/administrator of two group blogs: “Colonial Quills” and “Overcoming With God." Carrie was a psychologist for twenty-five years. She lives in Virginia with her family.

Connect with Carrie:

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  1. Thanks for defining these terms, Carrie. It's interesting to hear about your experiences. Some years ago, I was asked to participate in an anthology, and it was fun to kick around story ideas that would fit. A proposal was put together and submitted. Then the targeted publisher pulled back on taking any new submissions, so the project got thrown in the drawer. But I'd be open to trying it again.

    1. Hi Dawn! Our serial was "put in a drawer" for two years until we started publishing it online this winter.

      Hmm, so what did you all do about your anthology? Hope you can pull that back out and get it published!

    2. I think everyone has long forgotten it! LOL I was just thinking the other day that I should pull out the story I was researching and see if any of it inspires a new story. ;-)

  2. The children's book, Family Ties, that rotates in the sidebar has one of my short stories. It's one that appeared in a publication by Pauline Books and Media in 2007. In 2009, the editor called and asked to put it in the collection. It's a great feeling to get an editor's call out of the blue.

    It seems like co-authoring or writing a serial would be really difficult when it comes to voice--as you said, making it blend with the other authors. Do you have any tips to make it easier, Carrie?

    1. Sandra, that is neat!

      What I did was read and re-read the others' sections of the serials. I did my best to make the continuing characters use the same types of words they'd used earlier. And to perform in a similar manner. I introduced new characters which made it easier. Honestly, I think for someone with a strong voice it is super hard and I was greatly concerned about my section. But the point of these serials is to some extent to show how each author writes differently yet can continue a story line and develop characters.

  3. Its is always nice to learn more on writing and it was nice to come here and do so. I can hardly wait to check out your other works !
    Blessings and Much Love
    Linda Finn


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