What the Digital Dickens!?

Does 21st Century Serial Resurgence Demand New Writing Rules?

I feel the Internet offers an opportunity for a return to episodic storytelling on an unprecedented scale. And I believe the web serial could reorient our entire approach to writing and literature. Think 19th Century Dickens newspaper serials — only with no need for presses, no associated production costs, no need for a printer or publisher, and unlimited access to story research and audience.

The vast scope of the canvas and the open-ended (cost-free) nature of the medium offers the promise of longer arcs, larger casts of characters, more complex world mechanics and histories, and even reader interaction and immediate feedback.

I know this will be controversial but I feel the approach to setting up a saga in this medium should be different than set-up in a typical, more finite novel. The standards for proper novel length, number of characters etc. get blown out the door. Do they not?

With a very long view taken, my approach has been to exposit (info-dump — egad!–) the complex rules of my reality in a “Concerning Hobbits” manner. I also introduce a lot of characters early. I intend to lay down the complexity up front so that things can play out. But here’s the rub…

Every criticism of the work is along the typical lines: “hook ’em with the first page”, “show don’t tell”, “I want to know why these characters have this relationship (without waiting)”, “info-dumps bad” etc.

Putting a debate about whether one is a good/bad writer, or experienced/inexperienced writer aside, I am all but convinced that we should be undergoing a paradigm shift in HOW people write — and how people read — that addresses the scale, nature, and possibility of the web serial medium.

I feel the opportunity for larger, grander, more sophisticated worlds, stories and reader experiences is done a remarkable disservice by culturally imposing a transfer of the limitations of corporate, published, single-author, 500-page, bestseller novel process onto the longer-game, deeper-dive of this much wider canvas.

Are the established writing class just digging their heels in here? Is fuddyduddyism stonewalling evolution — maybe even a renaissance?

I know there are rules. But do the same rules apply when the medium is so drastically different?

Can there be new rules? Indeed, shouldn’t there be new rules?

Read and share Glass Grimoire: the Mystical Web Serial Saga of Andy Crowley

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