Serialize like Dickens

War. War has changed.

Nope, wait. That’s Metal Gear Solid referencing Fallout …

What did I want to do again? Ah yes, *ahem* story telling. Story telling has changed.

Today we see a major shift in the way we think about our purchases – moving from ownership to membership, from buying one time to making repeated automatic transactions once a month.

The same idea shift happens in story telling as well as we all succumb to the convenience of netflix and co and binge on our favorite TV series. It’s the closest to instant and ongoing story gratification we can get. But I argue that this is not a new model at all. In fact, it could be the oldest form of story telling being reborn in the digital age.

Why serialize?

  1. It’s cheaper for everyone. Printing books has always been expensive, dictated by the cost of paper. So, the serial model has always allowed fast, cheap printing. Instead of buying Great Expectations in one bound volume that we know – and probably own – today, people in Dicken’s time read along in magazines and newspaper prints, getting a chapter a week. It’s about access to story they might not otherwise have had, not being able to afford the whole shebang. Also, Dickens himself was paid regularly; maybe not as much as when someone bought the bound volume, true, but enough to keep writing. Enough to keep telling the story.
  2. It’s the more natural story telling format.“Gather round, children, and let me tell you a story.” “Where did we stop yesterday?” We are used to and primed to hearing ongoing story since the beginning of mankind. Since the first child asked to tell them a story, curious as to how the world works and also -frankly, as a parent myself, I totally see this need – to keep them occupied while Mom and Dad are busy.

Dickens did it in magazines, writing stories. Radio shows in the 20th century did it after the same model, voicing stories. TV has done it and refined the process, showing us stories.

I wonder if in the digital revolution, it makes sense to go back to these roots. Instead of just publishing a novel, releasing it into the the ocean of ebook retailers and hoping for the best, maybe it makes more sense to give access to a story as it unfolds.

This is going to be my experiment.

I’m going to publish The Living Blade Series. Just like Dickens.

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