My gut instinct last night was not to publish Part 4 of The Curse. I didn’t know why so I overrode what I felt and published it anyway. It bugged me all last night and this morning. I read it again and now I see that I should have followed my instincts.
I wrote Part 1 almost ten years ago and didn’t write another word until I started writing again last September when I was casting around for an idea to write a story. After the first draft, the story ended up being about 1800 words. I had a couple of people beta read it and from their suggestions the story expanded to about 2500 words.
It still didn’t seem right, so I sent it off to another beta reader. I tweaked and added a whole new section which brought the story to 3100 words. By this time, NaNoWriMo was about to start and I decided that The Curse was complete and ready to go. In the next few months I submitted it to six different magazines and received six form rejections.
With every thing going on in my life and the writing challenges that I had set up, I didn’t make the time to go back over the story and see why it was getting rejected. Frankly, I gave up on it getting published. A month ago, I didn’t have anything to write on a Friday and as a lark, I posted the first part of The Curse. It seemed well received, so I decided to post the rest in installments every Friday.
Normally, I like to keep my posts between 400 and 800 words. Anymore than that, it seems to long for a blog post. I know when I read a story on someone’s site that is well over that, I rarely finish the story. After posting Part 2, I was surprised that readers were saying that I had left it as a cliffhanger. I was even more surprised when after posting Part 3 that it looked like another cliffhanger. Why it was so unexpected is that when you read the story in whole, there isn’t an obvious moment where you think “Cliffhanger!”.
Part 4 was hard for me to figure out how much to post. I tried three or four different ending spots but nothing seemed right. Finally I said the hell with it and just posted what I did. I realized afterwards that I needed to add a short note that Part 5 would be posted next week as it looked like the story had ended.
I didn’t get the reaction that I had been getting from the previous parts. I now know why. Part 4 is just a massive info dump. I had been ratcheting up the story up until that point and then it goes completely flat with the dump. Now I see why the story had been rejected repeatedly.
Back to the drawing board.
I’ve got some ideas on how to fix that part. Mostly by eliminating a lot of the info dump and adding in an action sequence or two. Then instead of doing a paragraph telling about the trek to Canada, I’ll need to add in more story lines and more characters. I expect the story to almost double in size by the time I’m done.
In retrospect, it seemed like I errored by posting Part 4, but instead it has given me insight to why the story wasn’t working and how to fix it. I think this was an inspired exercise by posting the story in serial format. I had thought to delete the Part 4 post, but I’ll let it stay to remind me to stay away from the cursed info dumps.