Tilly with the Others started exactly a year ago last week. The plan was to run it for 50 episodes (at which point I had to provide a reasonably plausible ending), or let it die a natural death when I ran out of ideas, whichever came first. The structure came from NaNoWriMo and its famous 50,000 word goal. The idea came from a Simon & Garfunkel song, and from an article I read which advised writers to come up with the elevator speech first, then write to that. Tilly's is "A modern retelling of The Stone Angel, but with space aliens."
There were a lot of things missing, and a lot of them still are — it would be nice to find a title that doesn't sound like a 1950s pop group, for example — but it's the closest I've ever got to a long work that has something of a plotline. Plot was and is my biggest stumbling-block, but having to write in episodes helped a lot, because it's generally expected that something happens each episode. Not every episode does have something happen, in point of fact, but enough of them do that the plan now is to let all these words sit and cure for three months, then pull them out and turn them into a more traditional novel.
Writing ficiton for blog posts, like writing fiction in general, comes with lots of contradictory advice. The two dictums (dicta?) that I've come across the most are "write like no-one else will ever read it" and "remember your audience." I honestly didn't think that anyone would stick around for all fifty episodes, and was surprised that the posts averaged 20-30 visits per episode. That's not exactly mass appeal, but it's also way too many for them all just to be spambots.
Of course, the visit count wouldn't even have been that high without the Tuesday Serial collector to list each episode with. There's an amazing breadth of genres and styles being posted each week — a great resource for any reader who wants to check out web fiction.
In particular I want to thank Larry Kollar, Peter Newman, and Helen Howell for commenting on virtually every episode. All of the feedback was very much appreciated, and will be consulted in detail in three months' time. Both Larry and Helen have recently released novels created from web serials: Larry just launched The Accidental Sorcerers, and Helen published I Know You Know. Peter has a novel-in-progress.
I also want to thank my in-real-life friends Jackie McGuinness, Cathy Cheshin, J-A, and Suzanne Lau for reading ("you go on my blog? seriously? you don't have to — wait, you actually read something?") and providing feedback along the way over the phone and/or bevvies.
Finally, a big thank-you goes to Howard Tessler and Rhonda Sussman. Howard and I were both part of the (sadly unfinished) collaborative novel-writing project where Tilly first appeared, and was the first person to tell me she should appear in a story of her own. Rhonda has the networking and communications analysis know-how to get how this web stuff really works. Tilly would never had made it this far without them.
I decided I'm not going to start another Tuesday Serial right away, but I do want to post a bit about writing and other non-fiction topics on Tuesdays for the next while. In the meantime, while Tilly is "resting," I'm going to try to get a first draft of another novel done.