Monday, July 06, 2009

From The "Pulp for the New Media" Department: Author Michael Stackpole

Courtesy of Boing Boing:

"Rather than simply changing the method of delivering stories to readers, Stackpole believes digital formats will change the nature of the stories themselves. At the very least, authors should tailor their work to these new mediums. He cited what he referred to as "the commuter market," people who read two chapters per day on their half hour train ride to work. It's an ideal market for fiction broken into 2,500 word chapters, and could presage a resurgence of serial fiction. "It's kind of like a return to the Penny Dreadfuls," he said. "But the readers today are more sophisticated, so we as writers need to put more work into it."

It was interesting to hear the formulaic way Stackpole approaches writing. He described how the method of writing old pulp stories could easily be adapted for modern audiences by eliminating certain ubiquitous but unecessary subplots and adding a bit of character development. A serial detective story should be, "70 percent case, 30 percent soap opera," with a little more soap in a later story to satisfy readers interested in a character's developing personal life."


barsoomcore said...

We've already seen this happen on TV -- TV shows have gotten more and more "serial" over the years until nowadays you can't jump into a series half-way through or you won't understand a thing that's going on.

Seems like that's likely due to the advent of recording technology and distribution networks so that you can now watch an entire series in a single go, so creators can get very sophisticated with how episodes relate to each other.

It will definitely be interesting to see how similar advances will affect written and published art forms.

Cunningham said...

Well, to go back to the article's point - serial fiction has been around for awhile. Many of the Tarzan books were serialized in newspapers as were other stories. (See Stratmeyer Syndicate).

We've simply digitized and updated them for today's more knowledgeable (I won't say "sophisticated") audiences.

This bodes well for authors and comic creators as well as producers as there is an opportunity to "workshop" a serial and resell it later as a novel while monetizing both distribution streams.

BobbyNash said...

As a writer of comics and prose I am very excited about the thought of serializing. Seeing Superman return every Wednesday to USA Today is a good start.

Wouldn't it be great if there were weekly (or daily) serialized stories in the newspaper? Something that could counter the doom and gloom of the news sounds like a welcome relief.

Or, imagine if TV Guide had short stories based on TV series. There are several novels out there based onshows, are short stories that could be later collected not also feasible?

Just a thought.


Unknown said...

I've been saying this for years and have been publishing serials as well with Episodes from the Zero Hour! People who don't even read on any sort of regular basis have bought the books because they're short and to the point. They're serialized.

Bobby NYTimes magazine I believe serialized stories although I have not read them. One of which was written by Chabon.

So good stuff here. For me it's preaching to the choir (which isn't a bad thing).

I feel the same should be done with comics and going back to the single issues. You can't go into a shop anymore and by a story by itself. I do have interwoven plot in some of mine books but on the whole you can read an issue and know what's going on, getting a story out of it.

Unfortunately we all have to realize that while we want to do this...the publishers are making calls to dying industries that don't even make any sense. Which leaves us self publishing which none of us can pay the bills with. Believe me. I'm trying.