Has and I are currently reading and loving Beth Kery’s Make Me serial, featuring investigative journalist, Harper McFaddan, and software entrepreneur, Jacob Latimer. Beth Kery is our go-to-author for hot and sensual erotic romance. Thanks to Berkley and to Beth Kery, we have a fantastic and informative guest post that answered our question: What makes the perfect serial romance?
“Writing the Perfect Serial Romance” by Beth Kery
The thing I love the most about writing the serial is that it has proven to reach an audience that is different than my typical one for a traditionally published book. As Because You are Mine, When I’m With You, and The Affair went through their eight weeks of serial publication, I began to get emails and social media feedback that sounded different than I’d ever before received. Some of the messages came from people that weren’t part of the avid reader community and don’t consider books to be a huge part of their life. Some said that the e-serial novel was ideal for them as an on-the-go, busy individual. Some were from people who didn’t even consider themselves readers at all, but who found the serial installments approachable. There was a sense of gratification at finishing a title, a sense of fun and anticipation to reading they’d never before experienced. Those were some amazing messages for me to receive.
I also love that a serial allows me to tell a story in more detail, and in an original way. In The Affair, for instance, I told the first eight weeks of Emma and Michael’s romance in ‘real time’, with each installment coming out once a week for eight weeks. In Make Me, I was able to take advantage of the unique, longer format of the serial to tell Jacob and Harper’s story both in the present and in the past, allowing the echoes from the past to enrich and illuminate their characters and intense connection in the present. While I could have done this in a traditional book, I probably wouldn’t have had the leeway to do it in so much detail and scope.
There are some elements that I think are really important to the serial. Each installment should be representative of the whole on a consistent basis. For instance, I write erotic romance, so each of my titles in the serial should signal to a reader immediately that they are reading a story in that genre.
I think it also helps for the serial to have what I would call the obsessive factor. By that, I mean that the characters have to be bold and large, and so does the romance. The serial needs to really grab the reader’s attention and make them hunger for what happens next. That doesn’t mean a cliffhanger necessarily. It just means the story has to be big and compelling enough to make them excited for next week.
There are a lot of things in common with writing a television screenplay and a serial. The reader has to care. That requires some big characters, like a Jacob Latimer from Make Me, someone whom is steeped in mystery and whom lusts after a woman so intensely, and yet is so conflicted by her presence, we just have to figure out why. Even though each installment is part of a bigger story, it has its own mini-arc. Like in the television show episode, new questions arise, but some things are resolved. The grand finale isn’t reached until the very end, but there is a sense of development, and there is some since of resolution or completion in each installment.
The serial novel isn’t for everyone. But for those who give it a try, I think they might be surprised how the element of time adds to the sharpness of the story, the anticipation, and let’s face it, the fun. There is something to be said for a book binge, for gobbling up a book in one or two nights. But there’s something special about letting the characters and the story linger, too, for letting your mind really mix up with the words, for letting the romance really burrow into your unconscious . . . for making the story truly your own.