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March 2, 2012
Posted at 9:09 pm

We Need A New Name For 'Book'

Before I forget, we are having mixed precipitation and extremely high winds late tonight and all day tomorrow here in eastern Ontario, Canada. Quite often, we lose power and internet during these events. Due to the weather, there may be a hiatus in my posting of Timmy until the power and broadband is reconnected.

On to my thought for tonight: Is there a difference between a serial and a multi-chapter story? I tend to use the term 'book' when talking about the multiple chapter situation, and serial to mean a story that goes on and on and on. Serial stories remind me of some of the old radio programs, where each episode was a complete unit, but tied together with all the other episodes into a never ending weekly media event. Often, there would be the proverbial cliff hanger to made sure you tuned back in the following week. A great place to hear old radio programs every evening, btw, is wrvo dot fm out of Oswego, New York, which provides web casts in various formats.

Another example of the serial are soap operas. These have taken on a life of their own. Almost every nation has their own version these days. In Canada, it's kind of fun to watch British ex pats rushing home to get the latest re-broadcast of Coronation Street or East Enders on cable.

Serials never have to end. If I were to write a serial, I would probably post each segment as I completed it, because the story could wander wherever the wind blew over time, and not get off track.

I see a book, however, as being one long story broken up into chapters. I couldn't imagine posting chapters as I wrote them, because everything has to tie into the whole and be very tightly written, and I do that best with the ability to go back and keep fine tuning earlier parts as often as needed. The other method, of posting as you go, seems to work really well for people who rely on feedback to guide the direction of their efforts. All of the styles and methods as evidenced by writers here at SOL are fascinating to study. I'm guessing, but haven't researched the hypothesis, that whether you're writing a serial or a 'book' effects which method is chosen.

It's obvious that we're going to have to come up with a new name for a lengthy story of limited duration, rather than 'book,' given digital versions are now outselling the glue, board, and paper objects. I was going to add, "Sort of like we needed to have done with record albums and never quite managed," but I realize the music industry/RIAA managed to get us all purchasing digital singles at a much higher profit for them, so that analogy doesn't work...unless attention spans continue shrinking to the point that only short stories, or serial episodes, are acceptable. That day will make me sad, because I quite enjoy crafting a long work where all the chosen words build an entire world.