How I Write the “Despair” Serial Storyline for YouTube and Wattpad

I was recently asked how I write the serial storyline for Despair that I publish on both Wattpad and YouTube. So, I thought I might give you a breakdown of the process and how you can write one yourself.

Perhaps it can help you write a series for Wattpad or even if you plan on trying out Kindle Vella.

It’s not as difficult as some might think. And personally, I find it quite enjoyable. Though, I do need to work on my voice acting.

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Publishing the Despair Serial Storyline

Now, keep in mind that there are a lot of cogs turning when writing Despair. It’s not just a storyline I publish in Wattpad as I also record the video variant.

You probably don’t need to go to such lengths.

Planning Out the Length of Each Episode

First, I decided on the average length of each episode. Depending on the publishing platform you want to use and your target audience, this can vary greatly.

For me, it was about creating a video that was under 10 minutes long. So, that worked out to about 1300 to 1500 words. However, I’m thinking about increasing it to 2000 to make it a bit longer of a video.

Primarily, though, you want a good word count to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more.

A Strong, Regular Publishing Schedule

You’ll need to devise a good publishing schedule for your series. Readers will get quite irate if you lead them along for a while and then stop publishing.

I know this from experience. I’ve lost a few listeners for Despair because I’ve taken so long to publish new episodes. Not to mention how long it’s taken me to write VII on Wattpad.

Your audience depends on knowing when new episodes are going live. It’s imperative that you maintain that schedule.

Not Going Heavy Into Detail

When writing a serial storyline, you need to keep in mind that you have a limited amount of space for the details. After all, you want to keep people reading the tale.

If the entire episode is just breaking down what your character is wearing, you’re going to lose your audience.

This means learning to be succinct and not offering details unless it is intricate to the plot or scene. Let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks.

Ending Each Episode with a Cliffhanger

An effective way of keeping readers and listeners coming back is to end each episode on some kind of cliffhanger. In fact, this process has been done for decades including television shows.

It’s all about tapping that part of the mind that needs to know what happens next. Especially if your audience is truly invested in the tale.

Using Grammarly to Help Polish Up the Text

Once I’m done with writing the episode, I feed it through Grammarly. Now, you can use any checking program you like. I just prefer Grammarly as I’ve been using it for several years.

It’s all personal preference.

Nonetheless, having a grammar and spell-checking app go over the serial storyline can help you polish up the episode.

Having a Beta Reader/Editor to Go Over the Piece

Having someone to go over the story can help you smooth out the edges of the plot before publishing. Since these are short snippets of the overall story, it shouldn’t take much effort.

It’s much easier to edit a 1500 to 2000 word story throughout the week over a 90,000-page novel.

Between Sam and I, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to polish up each part of the serial storyline for Despair. With these being so short, I’m not sure if hiring a professional editor is an efficient use of money and time.

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Record the Serial Storyline Episode in OBS

So, the rest of this is probably unrelated if you plan on just publishing the text version of your story. I thought I would add it, though, in case you plan on recording your own audiobook on YouTube.

After all of the polishing, I hit record on OBS and record me reading the tale. Each episode runs about 15 to 20 minutes of recording time, depending on how often I screw up while reading.

The video is then saved and ready for editing.

Edit the Video and Upload it to YouTube

Editing in Premiere

After recording the video, it’s time to do some editing. Because of the nature of what I’m creating on YouTube, it’s a bit more convoluted than simply recording me reading the story.

There are a few extras that go into the process.

Using Adobe Premiere Pro

To create the serial storyline on YouTube, I use Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing. Then, I only use the audio portion of my video as I use a different visual for the video itself.

Usually, it consists of slow-moving, old-style radios while the story is being read.

You can use anything you wish. But as this is an audiobook, you really don’t need to go too far into being fancy with visuals.

In Premiere, I also add the background sound effects throughout the story. For example, thunderstorms, rain, wind, footsteps on wood…those kinds of things.

Sound Effects from Epidemic Sound

I pay $15 per month for Epidemic Sound. It not only has a massive collection of sound effects, but I can also utilize a slew of music from the site.

When registering an account, you are authorized to use one platform at a time. For instance, I can use any sound and music I want as long as it’s for Creative Sanctuary’s YouTube channel.

And I use a lot of sound effects. Not to mention that I plan on doing a lot more with the channel in the near future.

Background Music from YouTube’s Free-Use Library

My preferred musical score comes from YouTube’s free music library. This is available from The YouTube Studio for your channel under “Audio Library.”

These files are free to use and won’t trigger copyright claims. And some of the scores are relatively decent.

YouTube does have a few sound effects that aren’t bad. But Epidemic Sound has far more that are high-quality. It’s a massive database that can inspire all kinds of ideas for future episodes.

Embed the Video and Paste the Text Into Wattpad

Once I am done editing the video, I upload it to YouTube on a scheduled release for Saturday at 6:00 pm. The following Monday, I embed the video and paste the text into the next section of the Wattpad book.

This way, people reading on Wattpad can choose to play the audiobook while reading along should they choose.

It also increases exposure for the channel should the book get a lot of readers on Wattpad.

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How Did I Come Up with the Plot for the Serial Storyline?

Initially, I started the story just like any other. I had an idea of what I wanted to write and simply began writing it. However, I didn’t plan on Despair being the audiobook.

In fact, Despair is part of a three-book series that I had planned for Wattpad back in 2019.

After checking out a few other authors who read their works on YouTube, I decided I wanted to give it a go. Though, I wanted mine to be different than everyone else’s.

That’s when I decided to add the sound effects and try to emulate the broadcasts from the early 1900s radio shows. Unfortunately, I’m not the best voice actor, and I don’t have the money to hire one.

It’s one of the things I’d like to do this year, actually. Well, once I am able to afford to hire people to help with the site and channels, that is.

Based on Roleplaying Games

Here is where my geekiness really shines. Despair is actually based on roleplaying games. In fact, I have sheets made for each main character and am rolling real dice to dictate how the story continues.

So, if the main character has a terrible roll and dies, that’s what is reflected in the book.

This means that the antagonist has a chance to win the day based on the luck of the roll. And no, I don’t fake rolling the dice or re-rolling terrible rolls. I kind of enjoy killing off popular characters.

I did change a few rules in the game that I believe are better suited for how certain things work. For instance, I changed a bit of how magic works in the world I created.

One of the things I like most about this process is that not even I know how the story is going to unfold. I am literally just the narrator…it’s the characters moving the story forward.

How Long Does Each Episode Take to Make?

Each episode of Despair can take up to 2.5 hours to create. This includes recording, editing, and uploading to YouTube. The vast majority of that time is spent editing the video while adding sound effects.

That process alone can take just a bit over two hours to complete. It also depends on how many sound effects I want to add to the serial storyline and how many I have to download from Epidemic Sound.

Writing the next episode can take one to two hours. This doesn’t include the 20 to 30 minutes we spend reading over and editing the text before recording.

Grand total, it takes me upwards of 4.5 hours to write and publish each 8-minute episode of Despair.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t very long at all. Especially for someone who has time to kill in the week.

Unfortunately for me, four and a half hours is a huge chunk of time considering how many other things I need to do in a day. But if I can stick to the schedule I set up in Asana, it’s usually not an issue to at least get one episode up every week.

Pros and Cons of Writing a Serial Storyline

Creating a series has both good and bad aspects. And everyone will have a unique experience depending on their level of commitment, style, and publishing platform.

Still, I thought I would share the pros and cons of writing serialized content based on my personal experiences.

Pros of Serial Stories

For me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Mostly because I simply love to write and enjoy exploring all the different methods of publishing.

Some of the pros for writing a serial storyline include:

  • Easier to write, edit, and publish compared to novels.
  • Works as a marketing device to quickly get your name out to the public.
  • Can be monetized in a variety of ways, either through videos like on YouTube or through platforms like Kindle Vella.
  • Easier to keep the flow of the story going without inflating it with fluff or filler.

Cons of Serial Stories

Keep in mind that some of the drawbacks for me may not be what you experience. As I said, everyone will have their own take on what’s good or bad about writing an ongoing series.

Nonetheless, some cons you might want to consider include:

  • Not everyone wants to read snippets of a story.
  • Can easily lose fans and readers if you don’t publish regularly.
  • Requires a great deal of motivation to stick with a strict publishing schedule.
  • More pressure to keep the story going instead of taking a month-long break.
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Writing a Serial Storyline is Quite Fun

To be honest, I quite enjoy writing the Despair series. I’m also looking forward to doing more audiobooks on YouTube. And I wouldn’t mind giving Kindle Vella a try, either.

Do you need to write a series to get the most out of your career? Absolutely not. True success is being able to meet your own goals, and they don’t have to include creating a serial storyline.

As an author, I just find them incredibly fun.

What is your ideal length for any given story? Are you more keen on writing anthologies over a series?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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