Genre tips

Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Serial Fiction

A to Z Challenge asks bloggers to post every day except Sundays during the month of April on a thematic topic–nothing else. This year, I’ll be covering writing genres.

Today’s genre:

atoz-sSerial Fiction


a serial story will be divided into short sections released at regular intervals, like once a week or once a month.

Tipsa to z

  1. The first three chapters are the anchor for your story. Develop them carefully.
  2. Have an overarching plot, characters, and setting that tie all the installments together. Have well-considered chapters and/or section breaks that build the drama and crises.
  3. Each installment should resolve an issue while setting up for the next (so readers come back).
  4. Serial fiction is light on subtlety. It gets lost during the roll-out.
  5. You can write serial fiction in groups as long as your co-authors understand the framework.
  6. A lot of serial fiction writers prepare thorough outlines first so they can see the long game on their series.
  7. Be prepared to publish weekly–monthly at the slowest.
  8. Don’t simply break a novel into sections and call that serialized. A novel has a beginning, middle and end. A serial has elements which motivate readers to keep reading.
  9. You might treat your serial fiction like vignettes–separate stories wrapped around central characters, setting–or comics or a space opera.
  10. Serial fiction is well-delivered as podcasts, not just ebooks.

Popular Books

  1. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  2. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. Whitehall by Liz Duffy Adams, Delia Sherman, Barbara Samuel, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeleine Robins, and Sarah Smith
  4. Bookshots by James Patterson
  5. Bookburners by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Philip K. Dick, Brian Francis Slattery, and Mur Lafferty
  6. Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
  7. The Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews
  8. Indexing by Seanan McGuire
  9. The Virginians by William Makepeace Thackeray

More S Genres:

Click for complete list of genres

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for May 2017. Click to follow its progress.


61 thoughts on “Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Serial Fiction

  1. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Scientific Fiction |

  2. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Satire | WordDreams...

  3. Good list, but did you just completely skip over web serials? There’s original fiction being serially posted in seduction communities; it’s where almost all of modern serials reside.

    I mean, where is serial fiction without John McCrae’s Worm? Pirateaba’s The Wandering Inn? Nobody013’s Mother of Learning?

    It’s extremely niche, and very few people know web serials are a thing. However, speaking as someone who has read well over a thousand books, I can confidently say that the serials I have listed above are in my top ten list.

    Really, I advise you to check this out.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Today’s #AtoZChallenge: Genres–Saga | WordDreams...

  5. Oh my gosh – yay! My reader is working. (previously Mrs Z) What a pain setting up my new site has been – all my fault I’m afraid. I am loving this A-Z thing you are doing Jacqui. Hope this works … I haven’t been able to comment so here goes …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Jacqui. When I was on another blogging site I did a 40 part serial like this and it was an interesting ride. I did not conquer all of your tips however, so I can see lots of value in your list. Thanks for your research and hard work with this A to Z Challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting, Jacqui. I tend to think of my series as serials because they don’t wrap up neatly at the end of each book but lead into the next and must be read in order. And other than timing and size of the release, I do follow the rules, such as outlining the whole thing in the beginning. One reason I release them at once is because I do like subtlety and that would be lost if readers had to wait 6 months between. Most fantasy “series” are a single long story broken up into separate books. Series or serial? Hmm. I’ll have to think about this. 🙂 Love this A-Z challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been playing with this idea. I have a novelette to lead as a freebie, but from there I’m uncertain whether to continue with novelettes or to expand into novellas.

    I originally wanted to do all novelettes because that seems more like the pacing of a TV show, but I’m not certain if my painting skills are up to that many covers that fast. Ten is a lot of covers for just a season. Maybe twenty weeks, tops. I’m not sure I’m that quick. And I’d have to pay a designer to do font for all of them, and then I couldn’t charge more than 99 cents since novelettes aren’t long.

    On the other hand, though, I’ve never written a novella. I’m not sure I can nail the length.

    *shrugs* I’m hoping the answer will come to me in a blaze of light if I think about it long enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The description of serialization is not what I expected, but then this is the one genre in which I have not read one book on your list. Yikes! I couldn’t write this genre either. One story a week? More yikes! Sounds like it is one adventure after another and would be exciting to read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so much cleverer about serial fiction than I! I like the idea of podcasts–of course. They’re audio books, serialized. It makes a lot of sense. I’ll have to look at Wattpad. I thought it was for publishing a novel.


      • Me, clever when it comes to serial fiction? I’m not too certain about that… 🙂
        I don’t have experience on Wattpad, but lots of writers use the platform to publish their fiction work, as a means of ‘testing the serialized waters’, for story feedback and, hopefully, to attract new fans to their work.
        But I haven’t done so. I don’t think that writing serialized fiction is for me.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I love a good cereal, er serialized story. This genre seems to go in and and out of fashion. A number of bloggers are using it today and in the past some great authors, like Charles Dickens, used it to publish what we now list as classic literature.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Not a fan…like to finish in one shot overnight or nights or days 🙂 and haven’t read much of it in English. There are Bengali (my mother tongue) literary magazines which use serial fiction as a staple, but the quality of writing is way below the standard of non-serialised fiction…just reinforces sticking to one-shot stories 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

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