Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The (Re)Rise Of Serial Fiction

In case you've been asleep at the keyboard, serial fiction has been experiencing a re-birth of sorts, helped along in no small part by the ease of self-publishing.

It is now a simple enough thing to get your book into print, so if you have a half finished novel, you could break that into parts and release a serialized version. Giving yourself enough time to test the waters for your book an d make changes as you go along. (Oh, and also have a good reason to finish it!)

I know a few authors who are working on various serial fiction projects, including my friends Sean Platt and David W. Wright who are responsible for the wildly successful Yesterday's Gone series.

There numerous serial fiction titles now for sale at Amazon with more on the way. They span genres, offering tales as diverse as science fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror and a mixed-bag of them all.

But I have seen signs of serial fiction work appearing in print newspapers as well as eBooks. Like the new "Mysterious City" feature now appearing in the Chicago Tribune.

I myself have always been a fan of serialized fiction. As someone who reads every chance he gets, I can appreciate stories which are short enough for me to get my fill in the tiny spaces which I have available for reading. I also enjoy a good mystery, and don't mind cliff hangers that keep me engaged. There is also an inherent tendency for serial fiction writers to write very tight. In other words, there is no room for fluffery in serial fiction (yes, it's a word in MY dictionary.)

If you haven't read any serial fiction lately, give it a try. And if you have a story which might benefit from being broken into pieces, give that a try too. You never know what you might learn from doing either.


Claudia Hall Christian said...

I think you're confusing two different forms of writing. There is serialized fiction - which is simply hacking up long form fiction into shorter bits and releasing them - and serial fiction. Serial fiction is, by definition, published as it's written. This means that a true serial fiction author launches a serial with no end in sight. That's what is happening at the Chicago Tribune and on other sites.

This confusion is understandable. Dickens published serial fiction... mostly. As did Doyle and other contemporaries. Some authors, again publishing at the same time, never published a word until they had finalized a manuscript. So it's an understandable confusion.

Jerry Battiste said...

Frankly, while grammatically correct it's really a matter of semantics. Savvy writers will discover the difference for themselves. I am not a teacher of literature, after all, just an "idea man."


Jerry Battiste said...

For anyone interested in learning about publishing serial fiction successfully, I whole-heartedly recommend you talk to Sean Platt at He has mastered the art of creating, self-publishing and marketing serial fiction. No, I am not an affiliate of his site, but I have been following what he has been doing and noticing it is effective. It would be nice if told him the Starved Writer sent you, but you don't have to.