Morgan Hawke is a great writer and I absolutely love some of the things she offers to writers to get their work out there.
If you want a great book to read about, which breaks down the how-to in writing, here is a great piece of advice.
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~ Writing Serial Fiction ~
Not just another Novel Idea
A Serial is Not an Oversized Novel.
I hear it time and time again: "If the story is too big, why don't you just cut it up into a serial?"
You can't just cut a long story in half or into bite-sized pieces because each piece has to be its own complete story to make sense to someone picking it up in the middle.
Think Comic Books, Animes and TV series'. That's how they get more viewers and readers - by catching the attention of someone new with that current story and interesting them enough to want to see/read the next story.
What's the difference between a Single-title Novel and a Serial Novel?
The Plot Structure.
A Novel only has One main plotline -
- which includes a Character (emotion-driven) arc and a Plot (action-driven) arc for both the Protagonist and the Antagonist with the overall plot usually focusing on the protagonist's view of events while hinting at the other's story.
A Romance novel typically has either two plot/character arcs: hero and heroine, or Three: hero, heroine and villain. The main plotline usually focuses on the heroine, but I have read some excellent books that focused on the hero or divided the book equally between the hero and the heroine.
I know some novel authors who have strong subplots for additional characters, but their books are HUGE. Case in Point: Steven King typically has one over-all plotline and separate plot/character arcs for at least three characters in each of his books - which amounts to a whole story for each character. He simply alternates between characters at chapter breaks. (See what I mean about huge?)
A serial plotline has at least two whole plotlines happening at any given time - plus a story.
Think of a comic book series or a TV series.
Each new issue or show opens with an intro to all the main characters then focuses on that episode's protagonist. The story then dives into the action which is either a piece of one of the subplots (while hinting at the over-all plot) or a piece of the overall plot (while hinting at one of the sub-plots) AND its own story too. Either way, each individual episode is in fact an entire story all by itself - while hinting at at least one other story. And every plot arc has to dovetail into every other plot arc to make a cohesive whole.
A Comic book series, a TV series and an Anime series are traditionally divided by progressive seasons with 12 to 24 episodes per (seasonal) plotline, with 4 to 6 major characters including the villain, plus one or two support characters (for both the good-guys and the bad-guys) that are seen fairly regularly.
Ideally, each character in a serial - including the villain - has their own subplot story going on during the main plot. The trick to a serial is to switch between the characters so that each has a chance to tell their own story, then bring them all together in one big, final climactic scene in the last episode. The longer the series runs, the more characters they add.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out with 4 major good guys, and 1 major bad guy with other minor good-guys and bad-guys wandering through the main plotline. Season 2 added Angel to the good guys side and the bad-guys changed completely over from one main villain to two - Spike and Drusilla.
Buffy's plot-line looks something like this:
The Master Plot arc for the whole series.
(Buffy The Vampire Slayer - slays vampires to save the world.)
The Master Sub-plot arc for that season.
(Buffy's in her Junior year at school where she tries to balance school, her friends, her night-time objective and her new boyfirend - who happens to be a vampire - plus the new bad-guys in town, Spike & Drusilla.)
The Story plot/character arc for an individual episode
with its own character arc and plot arc.
(Buffy wants to go to the Junior Prom - but can't find an appropriate date. Meanwhile, things are heating up between Jonathan and Willow - and Spike is up to something, as usual.)
Each successive season added more characters. Why? Because they needed more story.
"No, you Can't just cut a novel into a serial!"
In order to create a serial, the story must be crafted to be a Serial from the beginning with each episode an individual story with a beginning, a middle and an end under a single overall plotline to hold it together.
Each episode can represent a separate adventure for your main character (like a comic book) or be a separate adventure that focuses on any one of your characters (like a TV or Anime series).
To tie the episodes together into a cohesive whole, each successive episode should either finish with a Master Plot question - or answer an earlier Master Plot question. The key here is subtlety.
To wrap it up, the serial climax brings all the characters together then ends with a final episode where the main character deals with the main villain in a grand finale.
An ordinary novel just doesn't have what it takes (plot-wise) to live up to a Serial's standards.
Morgan Hawke (C) 2004