I suppose as I work on Episode 50 that I should tell you that I published Episode 49 a couple of weeks ago.
There is a shorthand phrase in the novel biz, the “campfire scene.” It’s a valuable storytelling moment, a time when the characters huddle around some focus, maybe the TV or the edge of a cliff or maybe an actual campfire, and the folks in the story take a breath and make telling remarks. “Campfire scene” is often used derogatorily, implying it is a cheap and clumsy fallback when more exposition is needed. Often it is.
This scene takes place around a campfire, and while there is a lot of exposition, I think it’s pretty darn interesting exposition. Maybe something that changes what you think about what’s already happened.
In other news, I’ve been studying other episodic fiction to answer the question, “what keeps people coming back for more?” Because let’s face it, I need more people coming back for more. Quality of writing is of course important, but even more important is the ability to have each episode end with a reason to read the next. A tangible promise to the reader. I have read some really shitty prose that still somehow gets me to load the next episode.
I need to embrace the secrets of the shitty writers. So far I have ended a lot of episodes on satisfying moments, but that’s the opposite of what successful serial fiction writers do. Even my own previous ironically-shitty serial fiction has embraced the idea that episodes don’t end on endings.
From a marketing standpoint, maybe I shouldn’t be discussing the weaknesses of the early chapters of Knives right out here in the open — but we’re pals, right? We can speak honestly.
As I keep forging ahead, I’m devoting some time now to going back and figuring out how to fix those early episodes — not rewriting them wholesale but adjusting the flow so I can break in moments of tension, rather than on moments of release. I’ll probably add some details I later came to regret not filling in. Martin will be picking up a new quirk I hinted at in later episodes.
But what won’t change is the story. It might be enriched a bit, but it’s still the same tale. I like this story, and I intend to do right by it.
So enjoy Episode 49: Love