• http://profiles.google.com/edward.w.bear Edward Bear

    First thought: not interested. Second and third thoughts likewise. This is just me, but I wait until all the episodes of a serial are out before starting the story. I want to know, with utter certainty, that I can finish the story and the author won’t just chop it (*cough* Stephen King *cough*) because “not enough sales.”

    • Alice Armitage

      I understand- it’s so disappointing to get involved in a story and then not be able to find out the resolution. I feel that way about good TV series. When the network suddenly drops a show, I still want to find out what happens to all those characters I’ve gotten to know. Maybe there should be some kind of implied contract to finish a story once started! 

      I suppose there always is a risk in a serial that it won’t be finished. But I have to admit, when I want something to engage me but only have a short period of time, I love a good serial. For that reason, I was excited to see today that Silent History has started it’s third month of daily “testimonials”. And, even though I’m not generally a fan of paranormal fiction, I am hooked on Margaret Atwood’s Zombie story on Wattpad and read a new chapter as soon as it’s posted.

      • http://twitter.com/whirlyshirly s-girl

        I believe my other comment got eaten up in the post.  I know the risk of a story ending prior to completion is a concern for a lot of readers used to the current digital and paper book market. So to offer some clarification to those who are not familiar with some examples cited here — Wattpad “Featured” stories are complete and usually curated in terms of their “Entry ” into that category. I recommend generally starting there with Wattpad.

        WebfictionGuide also has pulled out complete novels at http://webfictionguide.com/complete-novels/?subset=vetted .  You can also use their directory to look at the serial novel/online novel in the general websphere.  Most of those stories are hosted by the creator themselves and not through a publisher or a community.   

        • Alice Armitage

          Hi s-girl-

          Thanks for the info about Wattpad and webfictionguide.com. They are both great resources for serial fiction and other stories available online. 
          There really is a lot of terrific fiction out there. And these sites are good places to start discovering it!Best,Alice

      • http://twitter.com/whirlyshirly s-girl

        One other thing I forgot to mention is that Wattpad and Webfiction Guide stories are available for free. The article talks a lot about small fees but there is no fee in this case to read.

    • Malissa Thomas

      I have a fan that agrees with you!  She won’t read the serial but instead will wait patiently for the book!  It may be a long wait!

  • http://twitter.com/ClaudiaC ClaudiaC

    Alice! Thank you for such an awesome article about Serial Fiction. I’ve been writing the Denver Cereal for the last 4.5 years. We have over 50,000 individuals who read every day, 6 books (soon to be 7) well selling books, and… well, it’s a lot of fun. The community of readers is really wonderful, funny, and kind. I’m blessed to get the chance to work on such a great project. Last year, I had a contract to work on a serial fiction in Fort Worth Texas. The Queen of Cool published every week for a year (26 chapters total – Dickens preferred 23 chapter contracts – what’s a girl to do?). The Queen of Cool brought over 1500 new readers to the site every week.

    One thing to remember is that here in the US, serial fiction has never really died. Armstead Maupin wrote the Tales of the City for the SF Chronicle; Redbook carried the Diary of V for 9 years; and Candace Bushnell’s Sex in the City are a few of the more popular serial fictions. These American authors and powerful storylines changed the way we look at the world. Just like Dickens taught what we now call “middle class values” to an emerging literate group, Armstead Maupin gave us a language to speak about AIDS, Candace Bushnell gave young single women a voice; and Redbook’s V talked about the forbidden topics from relationships to sex to money to raising children. Each of these serials were hugely popular, had wide audiences, and still sell books.

    Serial fiction is a powerful method of teaching people how to live. When done well, serial fiction literally changes lives. I’m delighted to have the chance to participate in serial fiction.

    Thank you again for writing about it! :)

    • Alice Armitage

      Hi Claudia-

      Thank you for commenting. You make very important points about the last 20 years of serialized fiction. And I am very aware of the contribution you personally have made- I am in awe of your ability to produce such good writing on an ongoing basis.

      I wanted to include a section about all the wonderful serials that have been on the internet since the 1990s. But I ran out of space. You, Maupin, Bushnell and others have been prolific and innovative. Somehow the contributions you all made to storytelling have not gotten the notice they deserve until the stories are published in a more traditional form. Yet,in many ways, it is the episodic nature of that writing when it was first created that allowed it to be so influential. 

      Hopefully, serial fiction is about to regain the attention it deserves. It is as a form of storytelling in its own right with unique ways of interacting with readers. In a sense, serial fiction was the first form of social media!

      All the best,

      Alice

  • Malissa Thomas

    I’ve seen an increase in the mention of serial fiction… fancy that, I’m writing one!  I wonder if most authors complete the series before they release or do they just work off the cuff?  Personally, I know where my story is headed and it will take a while to get there but I haven’t written in advance.  It’s free on my website and fun to put out there!

    • Alice Armitage

      Hi Malissa-

      Thanks so much for commenting.Many of the articles and interviews I read in preparing my article made it clear that, so far, publishers are nervous about putting out serials that aren’t completed before sections begin to be posted. They were worried that authors wouldn’t be able to keep up with frequent, recurring deadlines and didn’t want to create a bad experience for readers who were exploring serial fiction for the first time.As a writer myself, I understand how much pressure could be created by a rigorous and ongoing publishing schedule- no room for writer’s block ever. I commend you  for being able to do that. What’s the URL for your site? I’d love to read your work.

      Best,

      Alice

    • MLTCG

      Where can I find your book?

    • http://twitter.com/whirlyshirly s-girl

      I think you’ll find both approaches out there.  There are certain advantages, of course, to writing everything out (at least once) before you commit to the serial. However, the ability to respond to feedback is more constrained in that instance.  There are two small communities of serial (webfiction) writers that you can engage with if you are interested in chatting further — one at the Webfiction Guide forums and the other at Goodreads. 

  • http://twitter.com/StephenTBradley Stephen Bradley

    Not only serial — but truly collaborative!  Let readers propose their own additions,
    plot lines, characters… take the story off in new directions.  Truly
    collaborative storytelling to fully engage fans.  #authorbee

    • Alice Armitage

      Hi Stephen-

      Thanks for commenting. I agree- I think that collaborative storytelling is an exciting opportunity in serial fiction. You can see it already in action in the Field Report section of Silent History (unfortunately only available so far as an iPad app). That is the only serial site that I am aware of now that allows readers to upload their own additions to the story. 

      A fascinating concept- really the closest thing we have to sitting around a campfire, with each person adding something to the story. But now we can go one better- we can share that story around the world.

      Alice

  • Nick Bouton

    @Alice We’ve been promoting serial and collaborative fiction over at @Protagonize (http://www.protagonize.com) for nearly 5 years as well, to great results from our community. It’s definitely a popular writing style with younger and amateur authors, too.

    • Alice Armitage

      Hi Nick-

      Thanks for your heads up on Protagonize. It looks like a terrific resource for writers and readers.

      Serial fiction seems to be now getting more attention lately, but obviously  it’s been happening for a while at forward thinking sites like yours.

      Best,

      Alice

  • http://twitter.com/whirlyshirly s-girl

    No problem. I appreciate you covering the topic and allowing the conversation to continue further.