Profiling the Serial Writer
Since I’m on the fifth of my ‘fear’ series of paranormal/SF books I have to confess that yes, I am a Serial Writer.
This peculiar psychological stance is easy to recognize and profile. There’s the need to repeat your initial folly. To write not just one book, but three, five, sixteen, more! The Serial Writer has a compulsion to track details precisely. Which character has green eyes? Which one likes sugar in their tea? Her apartment is on what floor of the building?
And Serial Writers are really crying out for help. We want readers to catch us. A lot. And we know that can be easier to do with a series, where readers get emotionally involved over time with a set of people and their world. Revisiting that world allows them to relax into a certain familiarity, even while they anticipate the thrill of adventure and change within it. That’s also true for Serial Writers, who understand the way thrill can be contained within ritual behavior.
The familiar world also allows us to stalk our characters over time, watching and reporting on how they grow and change. My protagonist Jaguar Addams, who wouldn’t trust her supervisor Alex to hang onto her least favorite pencil in The Fear Principle, is trusting him with her life by A Lunatic Fear. Their emotional changes are as much a part of the intrigue as the fast-moving and edgy plots.
But any Serial Writer worth their salt knows also that every change must grow naturally from who the characters are at the beginning of the series. In The Green Memory of Fear, for instance, Alex’s decision to court Jaguar grows from his innate courtesy. He’s a gentleman, through and through. Of course he’ll kiss her hand, rise when she enters a room. And while Jaguar’s twitchy about it all, it makes sense that her passion would override her fears. It always does, with her.
That kind of understanding grows only from a lengthy stalking of a character which some people call obsession. I call it – um – obsession. Yeah. That’s a good word for it.
After reading this, if you find you have the urges of the Serial Writer, don’t worry. Be happy! Serial writing really is a source of great joy. And if you do it right, you may even make a killing.
Barbara Chepaitis is author of eight published novels and two nonfiction books. Her most recent novel is The Green Memory of Fear, fifth book in the ‘fear’ series featuring Jaguar Addams. She is also director of the fiction writing program at Western College of Colorado’s Master’s program in creative writing.
Synopsis: On Prison Planetoid Three, Jaguar Addams uses her empathic gifts to make criminals face the fears that drive their heinous acts. Very few escape the telepathic web she weaves around them . . . until now. When Jaguar takes on a home planet assignment, investigating a psychiatrist on trial for abuse of a little boy, she finds a killer unlike any she’s faced before. Dr. Senci’s psi skills are a match for her own, and unless she consents to do as he wants, he’ll use them to kill everyone she loves. Once she realizes who and what he really is, she leaves the Planetoid to go after him. But Supervisor Alex Dzarny isn’t about to let her go it alone, even if it means losing his own life to save hers.