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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Writing a Magazine Serial Part 3

I guess there as many different types of serial as there are types of story. For me though, the opportunity to imagine living in a part of the world I love for the months it takes to write a serial was a considerable attraction. I have a sort of holiday disease which I catch every time I go on holiday which consists of imagining vividly what it would be like to chuck in my life in chilly old England (much as I love it here) and go and live abroad. In the cold light of day, I know that wherever you live there are problems, bills to be paid, cleaning to be done, whatever. But in my imagination, that magic place 'abroad' is always sunny, always exciting and full of possibilities. I think that is why Italy as a setting appealed so much, and if it appeals to me, it was likely it would appeal to readers. People's Friend now have a lovely blog of their own and recently, one of the editors there was talking about how curious it is to work on a magazine where you are always some weeks if not months in advance. So in the sunny, warm days of autumn, they might be choosing articles and reading stories about snow and Christmas. Whilst in the endless winter we have just had I hope it has been as much fun for them as it has been for me to work on something set in the bright, light warmth of an Italian spring. Setting a serial which is around 45,000 words in somewhere far away, gave me as a writer endless opportunities to indulge myself. Above all it gives you a chance to appeal to the senses of your readers. You can take them for country walks on the cliffs where the smell of wild oregano being crushed beneath footsteps is invigorating. You can take them to a seaside destination where people mess about in boats with all the dramatic possibilities that affords for cliffhangers - characters can fall overboard or get lost in isolated rocky coves. There is endless opportunity for romance in a holiday setting - it is inspirational even when deciding what your characters will wear. I had the English girls in my story befriending a lady who runs a dress shop in Sorrento. They pondered over pretty flip flops with jewels and flowers on the thongs and linen outfits just like you do on holiday. I had fun dressing my characters in flowery, lacy, ice cream shades to my heart's content. Then of course there is the food. Oh the opportunities to enjoy all the things which for me are happy memories of Italian holidays gone by. I had my characters making pasta and zabaglione, tasting liquers and Baci chocolates with yummy toasted hazlenut centres. Then there were the granitas and sorbets and the coffee..... Heaven! The thing about setting for a magazine serial is of course that it can be anywhere. If I went on my holidays to Norway to see the Northern Lights, to an edgy built up city, to Egypt to see the pyramids, or on a cruise ship to see a whole continent that simply doesn't matter. As long as I was writing about people the reader cares about in situations they which are intriguing I would hopefully stand a chance of being able to run with my idea and seeing it go into print.

7 comments:

Wendy's Writing said...

Thank your for part 3 of your 'writing a Series' posts, Cara. I have set many of my short stories in holiday destination.

Kate Jackson said...

Thanks for another great serial writing post Cara. Have a great weekend.

Cara Cooper said...

Thanks Kate and Wendy. I am now of course trying to plan my next writing extravaganza around my next holiday !

Sharon Bradshaw said...

Sunshine, Italy and Romance, it won't be easy to sleep tonight. I went to Sorrento years ago and haven't forgotten it. Your "ice cream shades", dresses and Baci chocolates. Settings are so important because the rest follows on. A lovely post, thank you.

Cara Cooper said...

Thanks Sharon. The wonderful thing I found about Sorrento which I visited about twenty years ago and then again this last year was that it had hardly changed. Pompeii had changed quite a bit. When we first went you didn't buy tickets or anything you just wandered in and around the ruins at your leisure. Now, it's much more structured with a gift shop, turnstiles etc.

Sharon Bradshaw said...

Turnstiles etc at Pompeii don't seem appropriate somehow, or sympathetic to the place. I went in the early eighties and remember I didn't feel like a tourist walking around in such a natural setting. Sorrento had almost a fifties, Audrey Hepburn feel to it. I would love to go back. I'm glad it hasn't changed. Thanks, Cara.

Cara Cooper said...

Hi Sharon -I find in general that Italy doesn't change as much as say the UK. Although when we go to Italy we tend to visit country parts and small towns rather than Rome or Milan which I've never been to. Also, I always get the impression England changes a lot possibly because living in London it does change all the time.