Sunday
Nov062011

The Future is Episodic Fiction

Back in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, there was a trend that kept readers hanging on to the edge of their seats. That trend was "serialized stories," which were heavily promoted in many major magazines of the day. What is the serial? A Wikipedia article on serials, which can be found here has this to say:

  • In literature, a serial is a publishing format by which a single large work, most often a work of narrative fiction, is presented in contiguous (typically chronological) installments—also known as numbers, parts, or fascicles—either issued as separate publications or appearing in sequential issues of a single periodical publication.[1] More generally, serial is applied in library and information science to materials "in any medium issued under the same title in a succession of discrete parts, usually numbered (or dated) and appearing at regular or irregular intervals with no predetermined conclusion. 

Many great reads were published as serials. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and its sequel sorts, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Both of these works were released through a magazine called The Strand, which, over the course of twelve months, released installments of each book, until the entire book had been serialized. Readers would collect the magazines to finish the story, anxiously awaiting the next monthly release.

The serial was also popular in pulp magazines, such as The Black Mask. Detective novels from authors such as Raymond Chandler had many of their stories serialized. Although the concept faded, it was replaced by novellas. Take for instance any James Bond story by Ian Fleming, which can easily be read in a few hours.

So, why were serialized stories and novellas so popular? I would say it was a time factor. A busy person could easily read a story or section of a story in one sitting, allowing them a break from reality, after which they could get back to work. I myself, also love the 700-page novel, but I do love/miss the serialized story and novella. In this day and age, when everyone has become digitized and wants instant information, quick reads are perfect, which is why I truly believe we will see a resurgence of this type of publishing approach. Take for example Kindle Singles, which are short reads, sometime only comprising ten to twenty pages at most. This type of story is easily digestible, and it allows you to take a quick break, just like watching a half hour show or a movie. You can enjoy the story and return to more important things, such as making dinner for your kids, cutting the grass, etc. Comic books are another avenue for quick reads. And let's not forget how long comic books have been around. They are still as huge a medium as they were when they started.

I saw the need to bring this medium back to the fore after speaking with a long-time friend of mine who has worked in the publishing industry for years, Daniel Middleton, owner of Scribe Freelance Book Design Company. He has watched the trends over the past few years and knew that it was only a matter of time before this concept made a comeback. Therefore, we created 711 Press. Our idea was to bring the novella and serialized story back to life, but with a new twist. We wanted our releases to not only continue from week to week in chronological order, but also read just like you were watching an actual television show. Therefore, all of our TV Books are chronological short reads that can be finished in 30 minutes or less, with each story arc consisting of 13 episodes that run for a season. A great example is our first TV release, the sci-fi YA series Order of 5ive.

Movie Books are another matter altogether, as these will follow the format of the novella, albeit with a twist as I mentioned. Our books fall between 80–120 pages, yet keep the reader enticed with continual action, intrigue, or natural story progression, presenting the reader with a plot that consists of a beginning, middle, and end. The perfect example is the Crisis Trilogy by James LaFleur and Gordon Massie. When we started this trilogy, our thought was, “Why add tons of extensive fodder? Why not just edit all the fat out and leave the meat? If a reader could read a 90-page book, or a 390 page book and still get the exact same story, which book would that reader prefer?” Hmmmm, 2–3 hours of reading or 2–3 days?” If I could read a novel in 1/10th the time it takes to read another similar novel, and get just as great a thrill, I'd pick the 90-pager, hands down. So, that's exactly what we did with the Crisis Trilogy. We edited out page after page of the manuscript and the final version was even better than the first version without all the fat!

But, everyone is different and you may be a long novel type of reader. Hey, I get it. I still love authors like Terry Brooks and I'd be mad if he released a 200-page title as opposed to a 400-page novel. Still, if you are in need of a great, quick read that fits in with your time schedule, I suggest you take the time to check out 711press.com, review our past, present, and future TV books and choose for yourself. We even offer some free books to wet your whistle. I truly believe the serialized story and novella are coming back, and I believe that 711 Press is the company that is going to make it happen.

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