In case you’ve been so busy shielding your mountain compound against high altitude nuclear EMPs for the last couple of years that you’ve missed it, let me reiterate–the rules for writing and publishing have been burned and rewritten so many times, they no longer exist.
It’s Every Writer for Herself
In the wake of the publishing apocalypse, dozens of templates on how indie authors should pursue success have emerged. Most of them probably work, when taken in context. Let’s face it, every writer’s context is different, and (as any blogger knows) when you stretch a template too far things will get ugly.
Episodic Fiction Isn’t for Everyone
But I absolutely believe episodic fiction will exponentially increase in popularity as the digital revolution continues. The internet is the ideal environment for episodes and episodic story-telling.
- Readers desire repeating content
- Readers want to invest once and benefit over and over
- Readers don’t want to wait (long) for the rest of the story
- Readers don’t want to pay big bucks for digital content
- Page length is meaningless on a screen
- Story is still supreme
These reasons and more are why episodic story structure will explode in popularity in coming years. This doesn’t mean that writers should take their backlist and publish them a chapter at a time.
Chapters are NOT Episodes
Episodes have a distinct structure. Episodes put unique demands on writers. Marketing and sales for episodes will evolve as they grow in popularity. These are the topics I’ll spend the next days and weeks discussing in these posts. Let’s start with…
Television provides the largest sample base for episodic story-telling–some examples good, some bad. Not all serial story-telling has an endgame, but the good ones most definitely do.
Has anyone else noticed that The Walking Dead (comic or television) starts to get grating/irritating after a while? The reason, in my opinion, is due to the lack of clear endgame for the series. What sort of life is Rick and his group striving for? Survival can only fuel a serial for so long before the passengers become too exhausted to care.
Sticking with the same genre, the show Falling Skies does a much better job of providing a clear endgame. (In Falling Skies, the apocalypse involves aliens instead of zombies.) The survivors have the overarching goal of forcing the aliens off Earth and taking back their world. Every episode involves a new event with new problems, but the endgame repeats regularly in the hearts and minds of the main characters–they long for a day when the aliens are gone, and they’ll fight until they accomplish that or die trying.
The epic Lord of the Rings remains satisfying for hundreds of pages (and what breaks down into several episodes) because throughout everything the story remains true to the endgame of destroying the ring.
Battlestar Galactica is all about finding a home for the human race.
Even the crime drama, Castle, eventually lands on the endgame of Castle and Beckett being together and living happily ever after. (It started with the endgame of Castle shadowing Beckett for a book he was writing before picking up the obvious relationship endgame and then continuing on for one season too many…)
Most authors wouldn’t try writing a book without an endgame. A serial should have one too. It just might take longer to get to. (In the next post, I’ll dive into the smaller arc of the individual episode.)
Please, leave any and all comments. Have an example of a serial you love that doesn’t have a clear endgame? Share it!