Episode 19: Back to Basics and Definitions to Follow

It suddenly hits you after writing for over two weeks that I’m using a lot of terminology that I take as common knowledge because of the years of research I have put into this field of study. While I’m quite sure that all of you readers are quite intelligent and my material is not exactly at the levels of quantum metaphysics, there is still some material that just does not click immediately for you. Most posts provide a historical context towards the term to which special attention is being given to but let’s go to the most basic of words so that we are all on the same page here.

The most obvious word is of course “serial” which is considered to be part of a series, often used to describe a particular kind of killer and most likely to be confused and mispelled with the cereal you eat for breakfast. There are many definitions for serial within the realms of literature but the one I go by for my academic work is that of Michael Lund and Linda Hughes in the book The Victorian Serial where the very first page provides says that it is “a continuing story over an extended period of time with enforced interruptions.” Now let’s really break up that definition to its base elements because we want to gain a better understanding of this area and I want to show you just how much I overthink everything when it comes to serials.

Now the word story is basic enough but ask any academic and you will get a different definition each time. It is often used as a synonym for narrative but that’s a bit tricky. For sake of argument, let’s give the rudimentary definition of a story as the telling of an event through a given medium in which an event occurs in its entirety from beginning to end. The continuing part is tricky because that means that the story is divided into smaller parts that only when put together contain the entirety of said story. Divisions in stories occur in just about everything. Theatre plays have scenes and acts, songs have verses, chorus, and bridge, poetry has verses and stanzas, tv shows have commercials, and novels have chapters. Hell, every page, sentence, and space puts up some sort of break into a particular story. What makes serials so interesting is the last part of the enforced interruption. Serials divide the story in installments all of which have to be significant enough to deliver a meaningful fraction of the story to make the reading experience worth it but leave enough information out to entice readers to look forward to the next part. All of the previous breaks in the actions exist but ultimately is up to the reader to decide when and where to stop. Except for serials where the remaining installments are not yet published or maybe even written, so there is something hysically and temporally stopping you from culminating the story. You have to wait and in that time you speculate, you talk to your friends, you read the installment a second time, you might go over previous points in the story, and you continue to live your life. And the cycle continues until the final installment is published.

The weird part is that anything can become a serial long after the initial story was deemed to be finished. Sequels, prequels, inbetweenquels, and reboots can be made at any given moment by anyone. Hence the story is never over but the journey of reading is one for the search of closure, something that serial fiction delays and deters as its own nature. The process is exhausting enough with one serial but chances are you are following various television programs, book series, movies, comics, webcomics, etc. Some say that this makes society crazy but I think it makes people come together and talk about their facorite stories over these enforced interruptions. But of course, the key is moderation.

More definitions later. Sleep now. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


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