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The Pros and Cons of Serialized Story-Telling

Serialized story-telling has both benefits and pitfalls. On the one hand, the publisher/producer has a guaranteed (sort of) audience built-in, and on the money side, that means easier profits. On the creative side, but the writer(s) and the audience have a certain comfort level with the setting and characters, and the deeper questions in the work have more time to be asked and answered.

On the other hand, if a plot only matters to the extent that it affects change in the protagonist, how many serious conflicts can the protagonist go through before they are changed to the point of being unrecognizable to their established fan base? How does the story stay continually fresh and avoid the re-hash of proven plot-lines? To what extent are writers "trapped" by elements introduced in the beginning of the story that they are unable to change in later volumes?

I’m thinking here of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books. But the article could be done using long-running tv shows as the focus (Supernatural comes to mind) or certainly most comic series fit this question as well. (Neil Gaiman once said that serialized story-telling was like jumping out of a plane and knitting yourself a parachute on the way down.)

This topic could easily go in the Comics or TV sections as well.

  • I love this topic, and there are many ways to pursue this, as you said with films, books, and/or TV. One example that comes to mind is the "Walk" series by Richard Paul Evans, which I've recently discovered; it is a series of 5 books that tells the story of a man's journey from Seattle to Key West, on foot. – Amena Banu 7 years ago
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  • You're right, I could definitely see this for many of the media sections. I think an interesting take could also be how we are also seeing this kind of trend in movies with the many sequels that are being produced. – Christina Cady 7 years ago
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  • One aspect of s;erialized storytelling is that the author can lose the original vision of the story, and after a certain number of books, the story just loses its overall glow. For example, when Rick Riordan continued his Percy Jackson series with Heroes of Olympus, as a reader it felt like there was no life to those books. It wasn't the same. So that can happen. – Travis Kane 7 years ago
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  • If you wanted to delve into the historical precedents for this, you could discuss how the novels of Dickens, and many others in the Victorian era, began their lives as serials in magazines, and influenced the way those stories came to be. – Luthien 7 years ago
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