‘Pilot Episodes’ for a novel? #writing

Write a pilot episode for your novel? I first read about the idea in ‘Write. Publish. Repeat.’ by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. The writing team had about 6 ideas for novels/novel series and couldn’t decide which to pursue. So they wrote a ‘pilot episode’ for each of the ideas and let the readers decide by which idea they made more popular.

That sounds like a good idea to me. Not the writing six different ‘pilots’ to decide which to pursue. But starting with a shorter ‘pilot’ to gage audience reaction before whipping out a series of 9 books. And people who liked the pilot might feel more invested in the story if they are part of the audience who supported the ‘pilot’ that got picked.

My problem as a writer is that I’m too creative. I come up with dozens of ideas for a given writing project and the project gets too complex to write. By focusing on writing a ‘pilot’, maybe I can keep the project more doable.

The downside of writing a ‘pilot’ is that you have to do as much worldbuilding for something that is the length of a novella as you would for a whole trilogy. But then again you get feedback before you ever have to put out a trilogy.

I’ve recently gotten back into my old Wattpad account, and am serializing my poetry book ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’ there. I’ve been thinking that might be a place to put up a ‘pilot’ episode. The Wattpad community is mostly teen girls who write fanfic, but there are a few name writers. I think Margaret Atwood, author of the famous anti-Christian hate book ‘A Handmaid’s Tale, was on Wattpad. And Hugh Howey.

My ‘pilot’ would be for the zombie apocalypse series I’ve been working on ever since I started watching ‘The Walking Dead’ obsessively. But some ideas go back to my other survivalist stories that go a long way back in my past. It’s centered around a small group of survivors trapped in the northernmost part of Menominee county, Michigan, led by a ‘warlord’ type that’s a bit like Negan in ‘The Walking Dead’, only my story would have hope/redemption in it. Other characters will include a cousin of the Lead with Asperger’s Syndrome, who reads a lot, doesn’t actually talk out loud to anyone much, and is the Lead’s advisor, and a black man who is a convicted murderer who is the Lead’s sidekick.

Anyway, I’m tentatively planning the story and writing character notes and scene ideas for it. I’ve named the community, Lemgo, after a town in Germany near my grandpa Langemann’s home town of Detmold. Lemgo is famous for a witch hunt they had in the 1700s and I went to the Hexenmuseum (Witches Museum) there once.

Wattpad: What I did wrong on Wattpad before was to start posting stories that were not finished there. I’ve heard it recommended to finish the story (or ‘pilot’) first before you start posting. That way you can post parts on a regular schedule and find readers on the site. (One also has to promote the story on your blog & social media so your current ‘fans’ will know about it.)

Where the Opium Cactus Grows: Explosive Poems for Weird People   Are you weird like me? Then you might like to read this on Wattpad. If you like it, or feel sorry for me because I have too many cats, please think about giving it an up-vote. And you can tell me what you think of the odd green book cover I am currently using.

Questions: Have you ever thought of doing a ‘pilot episode’ for one of your writing projects first? Is the idea something you might try? And have you ever used Wattpad? What was the experience like for you? If you comment, you will really be making my day. Even if you disagree with me.

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