Liam’s Guest Post: On Periodicals

Well! This is Liam’s guest post! :D It’s rather good, if I do say so myself. Here it is:


I just spent the last couple minutes looking over Coffee’s blog to see what would be fitting for a guest post, which she awarded me a while ago.

The thing I realized is that I can’t think of much.
Coffee writes a lot of poetry, a lot of fiction, and a lot of updates on her life. Now, for one thing, I’m not a poet. For another, I’m not someone who writes fiction for some other person’s blog (that’s something I restrict to my blog alone). And for another, I’m definitely not privy to her life, and for that reason I can’t write anything about it.

I’ve hit a wall.

It hurts.

It’s not often that I hit walls. I have good depth perception, and can usually avoid them.

So I’ve decided to write about writing a periodical, which Coffee does in her Never Ending War, and I used to do on another blog, about a dragon-understanding genius with many enemies.

Writing a periodical, believe it or not, is harder than writing a novel in a month. First of all, you have to write it. This happens chapter-by-chapter, not in large chunks. You can’t skip around while writing a periodical (which I never do anyway). As you write a periodical, unless you can predict the future and every move your characters will try to make, you have no idea what’s happening until the end. At least, I don’t. There are a million ways any story can go, and unless you’ve got an iron grasp on yours (which makes for a terrible story), you won’t be able to predict it entirely. Scratch that—you’ll barely be able to predict it at all. Your story is an entirely different entity, and it cares nothing what you think. If you write one chapter a week, or a month, or whatever, it won’t be the same as you planned it when you wrote the first chapter.

Once you finish the first chapter, you have to edit, which in this case means touch up the writing style, change a sentence here, a word there, fix a couple spellings over there. (Of course, Coffee never spells anything wrong, like I often du.) This kind of editing is different than entire-novel-editing; in that you focus on the story as a whole first and only after you get the plot right, you go to touching up the dialogue.

But in a periodical, it doesn’t work like that. You have no clear idea of the future. You have no way of knowing what the mystical soothsayer in chapter three must say to her customer that would mean something profound in the last chapter. You have no way of knowing anything, and if you make a decision, you must stick with it. There is no chance to edit the whole thing before you go public with it.

And that’s one of the scariest things of all in writing a periodical: it’s public immediately and you don’t know what people will think. You’ve got critics at every step. All book critics say things like, “The book was excellent, blah blah blah.” None say, “The first chapter was confusing, but the second was better, and the third was just plain strange, what with the pink dappled slug and such.” But that’s what happens in the slow publishing process of a periodical. Chapter by chapter, it’s hard for a reader to get a clear understanding of everything, and most will say “I didn’t understand this part of the chapter…” and you want to yell at them, “YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO UNDERSTAND YET!” Of course, since they’re your readers, you don’t. Well, not if you’re a nice blogger, like Coffee and I.

Anyway, you can’t edit on the broad scale you do in a full-novel-edit—you must edit sentence by sentence, not chapter by chapter. This is what makes it so hard.
Moral of the story: Periodicals are hard for writers to write, so keep your stupid comments to your stupid selves. (Wait… I’m supposed to be a nice blogger…)


Perfect, no? (: Also; I want you all to know that blog’s down all week; it should be back up on Sunday, and I’ll post that missing chapter from tNEW. >.< Other than that, I’m busy this week, and there’s just no way… Sorry<3


11 comments on “Liam’s Guest Post: On Periodicals

  1. Oh so you’re allowed to insult Coffee’s followers, but when I want to insult your subscribers it’s suddenly the end of the world?!?!

  2. Come back soon, and thanks for the link!

  3. Ugh, periodicals. -looks at The Gardener- -vomits-

  4. I think I was writing a periodical. Riddle Rose might meet those requirements.

    At chapter 8 and I staunchly refuse to go further until I’ve fixed the other 8 chapters.

    It’s weird… I usually never edit.

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