Episode 108: Can Authors Choose to Serialize?

In the last post, I went on about why serialization might be done. All the reasons made sense to a degree but nothing seemed like the catch all reason to explain how or why we stories are divided into parts. But then I refocused my analysis towards the central point of what my dissertation is about, authorship. There is a conscious choice as to how and stories are divided. Some of the divisions fall into the physical aspects of the medium, like needing to take breaks as both storyteller and reader to prevent exhaustion or distraction. But I have personally heard and even told stories serially in which the blocks of time range for a couple of minutes and even to hours, many times without the forethought as to why I decided to stop and go the narrative in that particular manner. It becomes more complex once you craft with seriality in mind, many times taking into consideration the previously mentioned reasons for serialization. Then again, plans go out the window if continued publication is outside of your control.

For TV shows, there are very strict time limits and commercial breaks during the individual installments that become even more difficult as you go into the publication process during a season. Storytelling has to fit a particular mold and the episodes need to fit into that mold before they even get on the air. If the viewership comes in droves then renewal is imminent but if numbers fluctuate there might not even be a new season. Not to mention that if the reviews/numbers are horrible, the execs that go above the author can choose to abandon the narrative ship immediately, which happened to a musical show about life in Vegas starring Hugh Jackman that was called Viva Laughlin and it lasted one episode only. I know more were produced and I kinda want to see if those episodes could ever be made available.

Television needs multiple episodes to tell a decent story, unless there is a 22 minute version of a televised stand alone short story but that’s not something I’ve ever seen. Movies have a different dynamic, serialization could be hinted at but never done because of low sales or expanded upon to something that was never meant to have a sequel if there is enough demand. The last few years for Marvel movies show a direct desire to serialize interconnecting franchises in ways that the upcoming Captain America looks like it’s going to be the proper link between Avengers 1 and 2.

The thing that really makes me overthink the idea of serialization as a choice by the author for narrative purposes is that the print analogues work way too closely to the previous examples. The way I see it, comics have a very similar process compared to television and books follow the film industry. What makes me feel somewhat awkward about the comparison is the deliberate choice on my end to say that the print formats are following the rules set out by the moving pictures. The old days of traditional print publishing and comics still had editors and people higher on the publishing food chain than the authors choosing what would keep being printed but not with the profit centrality that commercial storytelling now contains.

Still authors can choose how to divide their stories, and that will be further explained on an upcoming post.

In the meantime, I’m trying to find a good sendoff like “goodnight and good luck” or “see you space cowboy” but can’t think of one that fits. I will be trying out a few in the upcoming posts, if any of them sound perfect let me know.

Here’s to not getting cancelled,


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