You either love her writing and you don’t, as we hear quite often at the library.  But author Margaret Atwood has taken on a new project–writing an online serial! Her latest work Positron, is only about three chapters underway, but she’s publishing it through a new website for writers called Byliner.    

Citing works by early authors such as Charles Dickens who often wrote in serial format, Atwood thought the idea was refreshing and something she wanted to try. She likens serials (writing a book in small portions so that the audience and comment and push the story in the direction they like) to modern day TV sitcoms. “If somebody’s getting high ratings, you make their part bigger, and if they’re not you have them die of an unfortunate disease.” She plans on taking feedback from readers seriously in order to make the story what they’d like. This is completely different from writing a book and having it published as a whole.  If readers don’t like it, it remains the same no matter what.


We have to wonder how far ahead Atwood has developed her story, whether she plans in general or is a “pantser” (one who writes without a lot of plotting). Positron has a unique idea—a world in which there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, so everybody becomes a part-time criminal, spending half their time as inmates, and half their time as prison guards. This isn’t the only thing Atwood is writing, and she’ll continue to publish in traditional format, but it certainly is something to watch and a way for writers to keep their craft fresh.

You can read more about the idea here.



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