Serial Overview: The Block

Whenever I complete a fiction serial, I always look back on the process, and how it was received. This interests me, and some readers like to read about it.
But if you don’t care about that, you can skip this post, with my blessing.

I had an idea about an ending, the ending that appeared in Part Twenty-Five. It was potentially shocking, and also had the benefit of leaving the story open-ended for a sequel. Or better still, readers could choose their own version of what happened, and therefore decide their own conclusion to the serial.

Once that ending was down in my notes, I had to ‘work back’, and decide how to start off a serial that would arrive at its predestined conclusion.

This story had an intentional ‘London’ feel, and characters based on people similar to (or exactly like) some people I had met during the sixty years I lived in that city. Although many regular readers embraced it happily, it did not get the same level of readership as the last three serials, and some violence in graphic detail in later episodes did disturb some readers too.

Despite that, readership actually increased as the serial went on, and the last episode had the biggest number of views. As of today, total views of the twenty-five parts stand at just over 1900. Comments were fairly high this time, with individual characters attracting many remarks, along with the change of pace toward the end which caught some readers off guard.

I really enjoyed writing it. When I write something set in London, heavily based on personal experience, it does give me an interest above my more regular fiction. If I did something like this again, I would consider adding a content warning for the scenes that some people found hard to read. If you are considering writing something with murders described in some detail, then you might want to think about that too.

There was some research involved, but nothing at the level required with historical fiction. I looked up some Law questions, and some of the history of Rampton Hospital, the maximum security psychiatric hospital involved in the story. The rest was all based on my experiences as an EMT, and from working for the Police in London for twelve years after that.

The serial will be available as a complete story in one long post, later this week.

Thanks as always to everyone who read, liked, commented, and shared on social media.

25 thoughts on “Serial Overview: The Block

  1. I think it’s a delicate balance, Pete. I’m sure some were put off by some of the graphic violence, but you are courageous enough to go places others wouldn’t dare. I stayed with it the whole time; the subject of mental illness gets often swept under the rug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Pete. Compared to big-selling mainstream fiction about psychotics and serial killers, I was relatively ‘tame’ here. But I sometimes forget that I have a ‘family-friendly’ blog. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find the flexibility of where the crime or “event” has to happen in a story/book/serial fascinating, It can be at the beginning or end. Given you wrote the conclusion first (at least in note format) and worked to the “event” in this one, it balances with your recent series of the cursed family. Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed the serial very much, and came away from it thinking it begged to be developed into a full-length novel.

    One question that arose in my mind was how much time elapsed between each murder on that Sunday morning. It seems that some of the victims were unaware that Jeffrey intended to kill them, which would indicate that Jeffrey took time to clean himself up (the overalls, gloves, etc.) before each attack so that no blood was on himโ€”although I do recall that one victim thought Jeffrey had been injured, so at least that one time he hadn’t bothered to look his Sunday best. Since there are only two flats per floor, I suppose Jeffrey didn’t have to worry too much about being seen in the hallway, but, if he did return to his apartment on the top floor to clean up between (at least some of the) killings, he was lucky not to be seen splattered with blood. Even on a Sunday morning, people do step out… Another question that arose: Did Jeffrey carry his axe with him throughout the murder spree, leaving it outside the apartment door when opting to use a different weapon like the carpet knife? That seems unlikely. If he returned to his own apartment between (at least some of the) killings to clean up, that would have given him the opportunity to either pickup or deposit the axe…

    When it comes to a story that falls short of a full-length novelโ€”especially one involving so many victims that require character development as well as an account of their killingโ€”I suppose one has to balance pace versus detail. The question is how much detail should be left to the reader’s imagination?

    I do congratulate you on the open ending. That was brilliant. Naturally, I assumed that Poppy Eccleston met her demise. But it’s true that, assuming she was home, Poppy might have avoided being killed, either by alerting the authorities upon spotting suspicious activity outside, escapng from / fending off the attack inside, or by some other means. As for a sequel, I don’t really see the need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, David. When he was carrying out the killings, he had the weapons in a tool bag, which was mentioned in one episode.

      As for people not knowing about the blood, etc, consider the order of the murders.

      Edna was killed first. He had no blood on him, and she let him in. He broke her neck, so no blood.

      He killed Market Boy as the man slept, so would have had no blood on him already, and surprised the man completely anyway.

      He then had a lot of blood on him!
      Entering Burger Babs, he found them in bed. He knocked Gym Guy unconscious, then secured him, and a terrified babs with tape, before bludgeoning him to death. Then he did the same to Babs. Both had their mouths covered with tape, so Babs could not scream, and was not strong enough physically to fight him off. (As well as being too scared to do much)

      Much more blood on him!
      In Bulgy Eyes’ flat, he found the man standing at the toilet. Bulgy had his back to him, and would not have seen any blood. He was killed by having his throat cut from behind, before he could defend himself.

      Even more blood now!
      He goes into the Asylum Seekers’ flat, enters the woman’s bedroom, and terrifies her with the sight of him. But he places a hood over her head and tapes her to the bed, so she is unable to get away. He then finds her brother sleeping, hits him with an axe, and then cuts his head off. Leaving the flat, the man is dead, and the woman taped up and immobile.

      Completely soaked in blood now!
      In the Fat bald Bloke’s flat, he surprises the man in the hallway, but stabs him immediately, before he can raise any alarm, or do anything. He then finds Elviira sleeping, nudges her wake, then immediately kills the shocked woman with an axe. She has no time to do anything.

      By the time he enters the Teacher Lady’s flat, he is a sight indeed, but that actually excites the woman, as she is a deviant. They go into Biker Man’s room, where Jeffrey wakes him up showing him a knife, and pressing it to his mouth. The man is actually complicit, believing it it to be a sex game. He was wearing a ball gag when the cutting began, so his cries would have been stifled. Then his throat was cut to finish him off. The woman then had sex with Jeffrey, not expecting to be killed, or perhaps more strangely, excited by the danger.

      He then gets to Theatrical Conehead’s flat, where the man thinks he has been hurt, fails to remark on the tool bag, and invites him in. He is amost immediately thrown over the balcony, before being able to comprehend what is actually happening.

      So, no return visits to his own flat, no cleaning up, and I estimate around an hour or just under, in real time, with the longest amount of that spent in Teacher Lady’s flat.

      I hope that explains it, and answers your questions?

      Thanks as always for your much-appreciated input throughout the serial.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the detailed analysis. Yes, that answers my questions. And answers them very well. I should have gone back and reviewed each scene. Had I done so, perhaps I could have spared you the questions!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the insight Pete! I understand the need to add warnings at times, it’s a fine line as it can also distract from hat is to come…like a movie rating that says WHY it’s rated that way – sometimes with plot points revealed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought I kept it ‘this side’ of acceptable, John. But different people have different sensibilities. Too late for warnings now, but I will add one to the complete story post.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kim. I do that nicknames thing in real life.There was a dog-walking lady who used to live around here who had enormous boobs. I knew her real name, but referred to her as ‘headlamps’. (Not to her face of course!) ๐Ÿ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry I missed this story Pete, I just read the first chapter.
    I will catch your next series.
    I am sure it was a wonderful story as you are such a terrific writer.
    Hope all is well in your corner of the world.
    Be well and be safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting, Pete. I liked the shift 3/4 of the way in. It was almost like you were shifting from literature to genera literature. I like it when an author draws you in and then pulls the rug out from under you. Your technique mirrors the psychology of your lead character. It’s very clever.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I started reading it, but as my eyesight has diminished even more, I found it hard to read huge blocks of writing, even though I wanted to. I read it at furst, and knew it was going to be a story I would want to read to the end. I will try to get my Voice Over working properly so that I can listen to it. I am sure it is gripping. I had a mightmare two mights ago that could be developed into a grizzly murder story! I might try it! You have todo SOMETHING with those nightmares! Otherwise they are wasted ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lorraine. Maybe your reading device might be able to read the whole story to you, once I have published in it full. Turning your nightmare into a story is a good idea. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Bets wishes, Pete. x

      Like

  8. Iโ€™m always amazed that some of your readers pop in in the middle of the series instead of starting at the beginning! I enjoyed this one, even though there was no one to really root for. Jeff is a great character to have in your writing locker.

    Liked by 3 people

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