Serial Fiction: What Is It, And Why Write It?

Are you wondering about serial fiction?

I’ve had questions about serials over the past couple of months, including:

  • What they are.
  • How you write them.
  • Who buys them.
  • Which genres?
  • And more.

Here’s a quick definition: a serial is a long story, published as a part-work.

Although a serial is similar to a novel, in that it’s a story with a beginning, middle, and ending, the structure is different from that of a novel.

How do you structure serial fiction?

In serial fiction, each part (episode) of the serial has a climax and a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger entices readers to read the next episode and the next.

Why this structure? You don’t have to follow it. Many authors just end an episode on a cliffhanger. However, I think that you create more satisfying entertainment when there’s a climax in each episode.

On a practical level, you get fewer one-star reviews if readers can read each episode as complete in itself, without feeling pressured into buying the next one.

Your mileage may vary, naturally. How you write anything is your decision.

A popular question: “Is it hard to write a serial?”

As you may know, I love writing short stories, so for me, writing a serial is just like writing a bunch of stories.

Write, publish, repeat.

Since a serial’s structure is challenging, however, I created a workbook to help: the Plan, Write, and Publish Serial Fiction in Four Weeks Workbook.

The Workbook gives you a step-by-step process.

Things to consider before you publish your first episode

Firstly, length. How many words are in each episode and how many episodes?

This is important, not only for readers but for you as well. Knowing the serial’s overall length gives you a shape so that you can structure the complete serial, as well as each episode.

Let’s say you’re intending the serial’s length to be 70,000 words. That means you could create seven episodes of around 10,000 words per episode. Or ten episodes of 7,000 words. It’s up to you.

Next: how often will you publish? I suggest weekly, or at least bi-weekly; that is, every two weeks. If you leave too much time between episodes, readers tend to forget the story.

Can you turn a novel into a serial?

In a word, yes. This article, Turn A Dud Novel Into A Powerhouse Serial, gives you some tips.

If you haven’t tried serial fiction, experiment.

If you’re in the US, you can use Amazon’s Kindle Vella to publish but do be aware that you may face challenges.

As I pointed out in this article on Kindle Vella:

Amazon launches services (such as Kindle Worlds for fan fiction) and then shutters them if they don’t make enough money. So this new venture means that Amazon knows that serials sell…

Although Kindle Vella has been extant for a couple of years, my preference is for control.

Everything you need to write serial fiction

Want to write serial fiction? Here’s how to make addictive, bite-sized fiction work for you. Start today. Mentoring included.