Thursday, October 26, 2017

Getting Started: Reconsider the Serial

Rawle Nyanzi just finished a serialized story here at PulpRev. The serialized story is a lost art, but it used to be a load-bearing pillar of the entertainment business, not just fiction publishing. Even now, you can go over to YouTube and find playlists of serials from the days before popular adoption of television stole that format for itself and turned it into its current form of episodic television.

The serial is a fantastic format for you beginners out there. Due to the nature of blogging as a medium, you have to learn how to write so that each post hits a story beat that satisfies the reader. You learn to write short, punchy prose that's efficient- all of which serves you well as you start moving to other formats, and that discipline you hone as you work in the serial format lets you avoid Fat Fantasy Syndrome because you learn how to make your plot lean and mean.

The most obvious thing that follows from the serial format is learning how to snag and keep audience attention, which is why the cliffhanger became a thing long before it got that label. If you take the time to read the pulp masters, such as Walter B. Gibson, you can see the serial influence at work on his magazine-length novels; chapters come fast, furiously, and forcefully so that readers get right into the mix and ride the tiger all the way to the end.

As the aforementioned example above shows, the serial format is ideal for beginners because you can do it right on your blog. If you want to class it up, as the pulp magazines did, you want to incorporate artwork; this is a brilliant opportunity to find some artists looking to promote (so beginners like yourself) and throw a few pieces that fit the episode into each post. Again, read the old pulp magazines (The Shadow is in reprint, often two novels to a volume; you'll find other classics similarly reprinted.)

There's no excuse for not getting into the game now. The barriers to entry now exist entirely between your ears. I built up my audience by blogging daily; that's the minimum level of hustle you'll need to get going, and it only gets faster from there- level up your Pulp Speed if you want to be more than a hobbyist. I'll be waiting to see your byline.

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