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Short stories vs serials and series

Lostlady

Just curious, are there any advantages to writing a serial over stand alone short stories? While I tend to favor short stories, it has occurred to me that by keeping the names of the main characters the same most stories can be easily linked together. I've often wondered if I'd be better off doing this rather than submitting individual stories.

The Slim Rhino

@Lostlady

Both approaches have merit, but serials are, at least in my opinion, more prone to score-bombing and many readers wait for a story to be completed before reading it, so you might have less readers at first while a serial is still in progress.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
ustourist

@Lostlady

Try doing it as a collection and marking your stories numerically within that system.
That allows both for individual readers and attracts those who want a continuation of characters, plus someone who reads a story from the series may be attracted enough to seek out earlier ones.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Lostlady

The SoL system allows you to group stories together as part of a series or a universe. In both cases the stories need only have some sort of connection to each other. My Rivers Region series are connected in they all occur in the same area. But each story stands alone on its own merit.

Crumbly Writer

@The Slim Rhino

Both approaches have merit, but serials are, at least in my opinion, more prone to score-bombing and many readers wait for a story to be completed before reading it, so you might have less readers at first while a serial is still in progress.

Not sure I agree with this. Most 1-bombing is negated by erasing the top and bottom scores. However, fewer people read short stories, either in books or online. Most want to immerse themselves in a story. What's more, by having an ongoing story, readers will anticipate the releases and will seek them out. Essentially, you'll be drawing on a different market, and they'll be more loyal, assuming you can be consistent in your posting schedule.

@ustourist

Try doing it as a collection and marking your stories numerically within that system.

That's one approach, basically making it a Universe, or a collection of short stories. But then it's easier enough to weave a storyline together, allowing one chapter to flow into the next, and for readers to get to know the various characters over time and cheer when they succeed. That also allows you to add conflicts and bad guys, to spice up the story.

The key, though, is that longer stories are more plot centric--even if it's only one guy getting laid as often as he can, while many shorts only amount to 'one-offs', where readers only read them until they get themselves off. You're really dealing with two different types of readers, and you need to be aware of the differences. You want to reward both your readers and their favorite characters with plot twists, conflicts, fights and resolutions, and a clear destination readers can anticipate.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Most want to immerse themselves in a story.


I disagree with this, as my short stories have a lot of readers. However, if you have a number of short stories in a series they're more likely to be read by people looking for a longer read because they'll see them as parts of a longer story arc - as is the case with my Clan Amir series, which is mostly short stories.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

if you have a number of short stories in a series they're more likely to be read by people looking for a longer read because they'll see them as parts of a longer story arc - as is the case with my Clan Amir series, which is mostly short stories.

What's more, if you bundle your shorts into a common universe, readers who pick up and like one are more likely to read the others. It's a natural transition between the stories (instead of merely 'what else has the author written?').

Replies:   The Slim Rhino
The Slim Rhino

@Crumbly Writer

Also, a series of stand-alone stories in a common universe feels more like a TV series, where people can skip episodes that don't appeal to them, based on the tags. With a single, multi-chapered story you end up with a myriad of tags and people don't know when the one scene is coming that they might not like and maybe avoid the story altogether because of one tag.

Lostlady

@Lostlady

Thanks to everybody for your input. You've given me some food for thought for future projects and I appreciate it greatly.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Lostlady


You've given me some food for thought for future projects and I appreciate it greatly.


Dang, you said food for thought it would've been more fun if you'd said fuel for thought then I could've made a joke about throwing more fuel on the fire.

Anyway, you're welcome. Most of us are friendly and like to help people.

typo edit - again

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Most of us a re friendly and like to help people.


You definitely have that right Ernest.

Welcome to the site Lostlady.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@docholladay

How does the joke go? I'd like to help you out. Which way did you come in?

Don't be like all these other authors and waste their valuable story writing time posting jokes and comments on the Forum. Write more stories and post them for readers of SOL (and Fine Stories) to enjoy.

Of course if you have a momentary writers block, fell free to join in the fun. It is fun, right? Mostly. Sometimes feelings get hurt. I try to think what the other guy (and we are 99% guys) would feel if I said it to his face. We do get some zealots very occasionally. Consider the source and ignore them.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Don't be like all these other authors and waste their valuable story writing time posting jokes and comments on the Forum.


I only write jokes here when something gives me a spur of the moment joke to write, right.

victorecho

I have done a little of both. Although I also have been caught in the serial bug. The biggest problem I see, as an author and a reader, with the serial is not having an ending. I have watched authors, myself included, walk into a serial and not have an exit. I know as a reader this annoys me, so as an author, I have promised my readers that I won't start posting if I don't have an ending.

What ends up happening then, is I either don't post any long form stories (novel length) or I post a bunch of scenes or vignettes that may or may not be related to each other. When they are, I lump them together a la "City/Seasons" or "Charlie's Bar." I only have a couple that are true short stories in terms of length, and that is mainly because that is how they ended up but they are really just longer scenes (Bad Porn being an exception to both as it is a movie script).

My advice, go where you want to go, write how you want to write, and keep your readers engaged. And don't take the scores too personally.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@victorecho

What ends up happening then, is I either don't post any long form stories (novel length) or I post a bunch of scenes or vignettes that may or may not be related to each other. When they are, I lump them together a la "City/Seasons" or "Charlie's Bar." I only have a couple that are true short stories in terms of length, and that is mainly because that is how they ended up but they are really just longer scenes (Bad Porn being an exception to both as it is a movie script).

There's a big difference between short story writers, who tend to write, like you do, in vignettes, often exploring techniques, and novels/serials, for which the story/plot is paramount. Thus it's hard to transition from short explorations to one where the focus is 'story above all else'. If a story segment doesn't drive the story forward, it gets cut, no matter how interesting or 'beautiful' it might be.

Most long story writers begin with a specific end point, though they're not often sure how they'll get there (the full details of the story). The problem on SOL, is we often get 'serial' writers, who start writing on a chapter by chapter basis, and they never have a clear endpoint in mind, and they never move their stories to that end. Sooner or later, they realize they have no exit strategy, and eventually they grow exhausted and end up posting less and less frequently, rather than wrapping the story up--which just frustrates everyone, author and readers both.

Novel writers need to be like newspaper writers. When writing daily newsfeeds, you're telling a very specific story, and you want to keep it concise and focused on the story. There's no room for personal observation, personal opinions or conjecture.

Novels are similar, if a subplot is interesting, but never goes anywhere, you cut it. If an interesting character doesn't go anywhere, you cut him. More than anything else, novels are concerned with conflicts, rather than a specific plot, so the effort is dedicated to developing those conflicts, resolving them a piece at a time until you reach a final conclusion. Any of those individual minor conflicts can be cut, but you always keep your eye on that final resolution, and arrange (plan) things so you're moving towards it at all times.

Until you learn to think of stories in those terms, you'll continue collecting vignettes, hoping to find someplace to use them.

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