Where have all the serials gone? by Michael Santino
My journey as an author began around Christmas of 2020. It’s still a part-time job for me, and one of the perks of my day job is that we shut down between Christmas Eve and New Years’. I started looking for a good new serial TV show to watch on Netflix but was having trouble finding what I wanted. I thought about it a little and came up with an idea for the kind of show I wanted to get hooked on, but realized it wasn’t there, and on a whim, I decided to write it myself.
A lot of avid readers don’t like TV much, but I must admit that I do. I feel like we’re in a golden age of television at the moment and have found that I strongly prefer a good serial to a good movie. There’s just so much more depth that can be achieved over the course of a few seasons. As I was writing my novel, it struck me, why don’t people write books in that same format? I know there are series out there, lots of series. But I can’t really find many serials in the way I think of them: short installments where some episodes end in closure and some with cliffhangers, and a wider cast of characters cycle in and out season to season.
And with that, my serial, The Frontline, was born.
I refer to each installment which is designed to be read in just a couple of hours, as “episodes,” and every 6-8 episodes are packaged together as a “season” (only the first seven episodes and first season are available, so far). I know it’s weird and jarring to see that in the written word these days, and it’s too soon to tell whether it’s that way for a reason, but here’s what I was thinking: there’s a ton of competition out there, and I wanted differentiation.
When the men and women at Ikea sat around a table and said, “Hey, we’re going to make people have to drive two hours to a giant maze-like warehouse, sell them Swedish meatballs, and make them assemble their own futons,” I’m sure a lot of investors balked. But it was just different and weird enough that they became the largest furniture retailer in the world.
I feel like writing this way gives me a ton of freedom to improvise along the way, and there is a lot of improvisation in the way I write. I generally know where I want to go, but getting there is always a surprise. Sometimes along the way, I get really excited about a subplot or character and can devote most of an entire episode to that one element while developing the larger plot a little bit to keep the iron in the fire.
Anyway, I’m curious what other people think about this format and whether I’m just a weirdo who likes to march to my own beat. You can contact me through my website at http://www.kolecounty.com. I’m still new enough as an author that I answer every email I get!