Developing A Story For The Long Serial

In the previous post I write about what exactly is a serial. Now I’m giving tips on how to write a serial. Developing a story for the serial format can be like a novel. Or it can differ. 

It is up to you. But one thing that a serial allows you to do is to plan arcs instead of having subplots. These subplots can take the center spotlight for a while, and need not be solely about the main character. 

Or allowing an ever shifting number of character who become important for a period. Unlike a novel, since it is constrained by the novel. A serial can choose to be far more fluid in how it is handled. 

For me, I personally choose to develop arcs, which help propel the main plot forward but isn’t really integral. And also allows me to play with how I’m foreshadowing and setting up the main conflict. A serial need not have the main conflict be at the centre of the book all the time. 

It can derail and as long as the characters are entertaining and the story still remains strong, which is consistent in tone while still surprising the reader.

And another benefit is that a serial need not be determined by the number of books or how long it takes to finish. For me, I’ll be talking about developing a serial story for the long term. Something that might take you years to finish. As that’s what I write, since I often want to explore the world and setting as much and as far as I can and characters which explore the different options. 

Here are some tips that I have if you’re writing a serial for the long term.  

#1 A cast of characters 

From my previous post serials can explore characters a lot more widely than say a novel. And that means being able to define a larger cast of characters without running into the issues that most epic fantasy series do. Being unable to understand how they fit or feeling that their roles are underwhelming. 

And in this case it becomes a necessity for the story to have compelling, likeable characters otherwise the reader won’t feel the need to read any further. Especially if the story only releases one chapter at a time. Since the plot need not be tight and that just hinges a lot more on the main character. Or if they dislike the main character they can have another to latch to. 

#2 Character Growth 

This is something that is tricky. But character growth can be better done here as it is more gradual. It can take several arcs or even the entire story for them. That means that growth can be more subtly shown or in certain cases stopped if the arc has no purpose to them or has any importance. 

This also allows side characters to take the spotlight with their own struggles, stories, and beliefs. 

It can make the journey even more satisfying as the payoff would be longer provided the writing and the storytelling is good enough to match up. 

#3 Telling different stories 

This can be the biggest benefit. A strong comparison to the serial story that I do is manga. Even as a lot of books adopt this format, for me I took the format of it and turned it to my serial. 

It can tell different types of stories, as long as the story still remains the consistent tone and the shift is well done. Arcs can allow this shift to be more seamless, as the reader would be expecting something exciting and fresh each time it reaches a breaking point.

Also, ensure that the arcs are not copycats of each other but still has the consistency and the core themes and message of the story.

How do you develop your serial story? Leave them in the comments below.