What did Dickens do? The challenges of publishing-by-installment.

Publishing Empire’s Hostage in installments (www.empireshostage.com) is proving to be an interesting process.  It is reducing my procrastination considerably – the first book in the series took me over a decade to write – ok, I was working at the time, and travelling, and providing a great deal of care to my aging parents – but still!  My goal is to have the book completed by my next birthday – April of 2016 – and knowing nearly 100 people (to date) are following the installments certainly gives me incentive to write.

But I’m not a writer who maps out the entire story in detail and then writes it. While I have the general gist of the story arc in my head, things just happen.  Characters turn out not to be quite the person you expected them to be.  Questions are asked by the protagonist – and you don’t have an answer (and it’s a really important question.)  When you write and publish a book in the traditional way, when these things happen, you go back to the earlier chapters and make sure they contain appropriate foreshadowing, or just plain don’t contradict the later chapters (and rely on your editor to catch anything you didn’t.)

So far, there’s enough space between my posts and what I’m writing now to go back and make the necessary changes before the installments go public.  At some point, that may not be the case.  I haven’t quite decided how to handle it – I could go back and change the earlier installment.  I could leave it alone, or add a postscript to the installment explaining.

Charles Dickens wrote a lot of his books as installments in a monthly magazine.  I wonder how he handled this problem?

Any thoughts or advice from my readers?



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