For a long time now, I’ve wanted to create a serial story. I have a pile of notes on what would eventually amount to a season of stories if I could figure out how to fill in the gaps and really get it going. It sits in my idea file and mocks me, and I’ve let it get the better of me for years.
But late last year, in response to a digital storytelling course, I took a number of projects that have been lying around waiting for their turn and broke them down into the skills I need to complete them, and what skill gaps are in my way. Effectively, I laid out learning paths to reach each of these projects. None of them have proved effective yet, but it’s an ongoing process. The episodic story did not make it into this planning session.
And now I think I know why. I have only the most basic knowledge of how to approach a serial story. I’ve gathered notes on episode structures and episodic storytelling. I’ve watched many, many television series, which embrace this structure by necessity.
What’s funny is that it never occurred to me to think about how I’ve written and released stories to fan fiction and original fiction sites back when I used to do NaNoWriMo. Chapter by chapter. No real deliberate thought behind it because I was just writing chapters. And I was complimented on my understanding of what constitutes a chapter structurally. I finally realized that’s probably how I should be thinking as I approach serial stories.
I have just started working on a serial story for Saturday Scenes, and it’s something of a double-edged sword. Working toward having something to share each Saturday is a great motivator, but it leaves very little time to overthink and second-guess what I’m doing. (If you know me at all, this is a good thing.) Of course, it also leaves limited time for research, studying, and worldbuilding, so it’s an interesting challenge trying to figure out what I’ve done, what I need to be doing, and making adjustments as I go.
But sometimes it’s really better to fumble your way through a series of missteps and learn from those mistakes than to do all the studying, gain all the theory, and then have no idea how to practically implement it. So, we’ll see how this goes.
If you’re interested in following along, I’m cross-posting the story to my deviantArt account as it develops.