On Writing Serials

In this new world (relatively new, anyway) of online indie publishing, serialized stories generate a lot of debate.

Some readers see them as cash grabs on the part of the author. Others enjoy the more leisurely reading pace that comes with having to wait for the next installment. As a writer of serials, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

Serialized storytelling is all around you, and has been for a long time. It’s a tradition that extends back to Charles Dickens, who published his classic works in serialized chapters. People would wait around for the latest Dickens, and there were often public readings. Some of my reviewers state that they don’t like this “new trend.” Let me tell you, this is not a new trend at all. If anything, it’s a return to form.

But it’s more recent, too. Do you watch television shows? Congratulations, you’re watching a serialized story! Movies are often the same way, with franchises telling their stories across trilogies and more. Comics are another example.

This is one reason why I don’t get the complaints when people buy a serial. Do you not watch TV or movies? It should be a form of storytelling you are used to.

Serials also give the author a chance to react to criticism. Take The Girlfriend Contract for example. I noticed several people complain about Gwen and Beatrice interacting more than Gwen and Aiden, so I made certain that Gwen and Aiden had more scenes together in Episode 2. Had I published an entire novel all at once, that would be a complaint I couldn’t address.

Moreover, I get to see people’s theories and hopes regarding the story. Guess what, if you share an idea about the direction of the plot or about a character that I like, there’s a decent chance I might actually incorporate it into the story! Serials are far more interactive between reader and author.

Since I can see what people are liking and not liking in the story, I can alter the course of the story to concentrate more on the aspects I know my readers find enjoyable, and minimize or eliminate the stuff that they don’t. What’s not to like about that?

Serials build anticipation. They give you something to look forward to. And, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, anticipation is the best part of anything. Sure, there is pleasure in just blasting through a novel or a TV show or what-have-you as quickly as you can, but there is also pleasure in taking your time.

What are your thoughts on serials?



One thought on “On Writing Serials

  1. Serials are becoming much more common, and I can understand why. I just have to find myself really interested to keep going for that long, I do tend to find myself wandering onto new stories sometimes 😀

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