Jump to content

Serialized Story v Novel

Recommended Posts

I would like to write a story using the device of a journal or blog. I realize this has been done frequently and I think I understand the pitfalls of doing so. It's almost a cliche. However, I believe I can do so without the problems inherent in that type of story.

However, I am wondering about related issues. What do you people believe are the strengths and weaknesses of a serial or soap opera as opposed to a novel with a definite beginning and end. I have several concepts that I would like to experiment with in the same story and I feel a serial might be better than writing them as seperate, independent stories. What are your thoughts?

I think I would like feedback as I am posting the story. And, I am a bit impatient. As I write, I would like to post. From a writer's POV, what are the advantages and disadvantages? From the reader's POV, I can guess. I get very tired of reading a good serial only to see the posting end with no resolution. However, if that is not an issue, what are your thoughts?

Thank you!

Link to comment
However, I am wondering about related issues. What do you people believe are the strengths and weaknesses of a serial or soap opera as opposed to a novel with a definite beginning and end. I have several concepts that I would like to experiment with in the same story and I feel a serial might be better than writing them as seperate, independent stories. What are your thoughts?

I've only been writing for a year, so I don't have a lot of experience in what you are talking about. That's never stopped me in the past from expressing an opinion and I see no reason to start now.... :-D

I am presuming that by serial or soap opera, you are talking about a story that just doesn't end. It keeps going and going with an endless series of plots that get resolved but with leads into the next plot. As long as you have at least two plots going, you can end one while allowing the second to continue (and start up a third).

This can be done, but I don't think I'd ever attempt it, simply because I expect to run out of ideas, and have the whole project just end with a whimper. I'm a firm believer that if something is to end, it should end clearly, not just leave things hanging because the writer(s) have run out of things to write about.

Now, if you think of it like a TV show (such as E.R.), then a series of related stories, possibly with an overall theme or guiding plot, then that is a lot more palatable, as the story could be ended at any time.

While I'm guilty of starting New Brother without a clear indication of how it was to finish, I can plead "new writer syndrome" in my defence. On the other hand, I had a very strong idea of how Falls Creek Lessons was going to end before I even started. The difference, to me, was very noticable. Falls Creek Lessons was a lot easier for me to write because everything was leading to a defined end.

On the subject of posting immediately vs holding them -- I've found a few times that something I write in a later chapter contradicts something in an earlier one, but I don't always realise immediately. Having a delay between writing and posting helps catch these. I usually find them when I get the chapter back from the editor and realise my mistake as I go carefully over the changes.

My opinion only, of course.


Link to comment

I agree with Graeme above. The problem with stories like this (IMHO) is that they tend to run out of steam at some point.

To me, before you begin writing any story, you have to ask yourself: what's the point of this story? What am I trying to say here? All the famous writing textbooks emphasize the importance of having a theme, or at least an underlying message or purpose for the story.

They advise that if you have trouble summing up your entire story in one or two sentences, then you have a problem. I had to mull over it for awhile, but I came up with an easy one for Jagged Angel: "Honesty is the best policy." Trite and simple, but it pretty much sums up the story. The lead character's life goes to hell and back, basically because he can't come to terms with being gay. Once he accepts it, his life goes a lot easier.

The theme was more complex for Groovy Kind of Love: first, "True love is worth all the risks," and secondly, "you've got to find a way to carry on, no matter how hard life gets." Again simplistic, but it boils down everything to one sentence (two in the case of the latter). The lead character there realizes at the end that even if he had known the love of his life was doomed, he would have loved him as best he could, for as long as he could. Make the most of what you have, as long as you have it.

The problem I see with serials is that they wander all over the map, to the point where you don't know who the characters are, what the focus of the story is, and really what the central plot is. The old line, "don't bore us -- get to the chorus" comes to mind.

I know there's an audience for soap operas, but I don't think they work in story form. At least, I have yet to find a long continuing story that's held my interest. (Under the Hoodster's story Perry & Jesse comes closest, and has some interesting moments and characters, but even that sometimes tends to ramble too much for me.)

I say, if you're going to tackle a project like this, consider doing it as a series of connected novels, like the Harry Potter stories, Anne Rice's vampire tales, Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, or J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Each of those books works individually as well as being part of a longer work, and I think that approach is far better than a long "serialized" story that seemingly has no end in sight.

TV shows are in a separate category, because each episode can stand alone. Of course, there's always the danger for those who missed a previous show, and have no way to make any sense of the existing characters and conflicts. West Wing juggles these elements very well, and I find you can miss a few episodes of this show and still dive back in and have no problem following what's going on. I've never experienced that with a long serialized novel, especially one on the Net.

Link to comment

I think if you want to write something, you should go write it and THEN ask what people think. Discussing a bit of fiction that doesn't exist seems...well, putting the cart before the horse. First see if you can write something, and then see how it looks because it may not be what you think it'll be, and then ask what people think. And something having been done before shouldn't stop you either, you just write what's in your head. You can't tailor what is in your head to what you think or are told is what people want...that doesn't work. Like sitting around trying to figure out what kind of books are selling most..that's not a way to finish a book, or even to begin it. You can't fit your writing into what other people think you should be writing, you just have to write what's in your head. And probably the less you talk about it, the better, and that's according to writers with far more experience than I have. I've only been writing as long as Graeme has, a year, but I do know that if you talk about it beforehand, it won't get written. Have you written anything yet?



Link to comment

I write a great deal for myself and I am always sending righteously indignant letters to the newspaper. I also have a blog which I have just started. I have written a number of short stories which are not gay-themed, but which gave me some practice and experience.

I have taken some of the advice here. I have already started the project. I had outlined it as a story with a definite end, a specific theme, and a primary plot with two secondary story lines. (I've taken a couple of creative writing classes, though I don't pretend or presume to be an expert on writing!). I've grown tired of reading stories on the Internet and thinking to myself, "I can do that." So, I've decided to do it.

I must admit that I rather liked the idea of an open-ended serial because I enjoy loosing myself in the story. It's nice for a couple of hours a night to be a fifteen year-old grappling with the issues of being fifteen instead of a forty-eight year-old wondering where life went! :roll: But, I also like the idea of perhaps making the work a series of stories with definite plots and endings. That would avoid confusing the reader with too many comoplicated threads and streams.

Thank you very much! I appreciate the feedback. It's been an enormous help.


Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...