I know, you’re too young to remember serials – heck, I’m too young to remember serials – the short movies popular during the first half of the 1900s. In case you haven’t noticed, serials are back, but in written form. And, oh, do I have one for you!
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When we talk about film serials, we’re talking about a very particular kind of motion-picture storytelling. Each serial followed one set of characters over the course of one story. This story was edited into short episodes about 20 minutes long), which were designed in such a way that they could not be shown out of order.1 Serials are widely known for their cliffhanger endings – endings showing the characters in danger with no apparent escape. You had to return the next week if you wanted to see if (really how) the characters escaped. One well-known example of the serial title is “The Perils of Pauline,” in which the title character was regularly menaced by villains, Indians, and pirates (although never actually tied to the railroad tracks).
Just as movie serials were different from full, feature-length movies, written serials are a little different from books. First, the individual episodes are shorter than novels, in much the same way that television episodes are shorter than full-length movies. Written serial episodes are usually novelettes (7,500 to 17,499 words) or novellas (17,500 to 39,999 words), as opposed to standard novels which are no less than 40,000 words.
Second, movie serials were released quickly, with a new episode hitting the theaters each week. Written serials are also released more often that books in a series. Where traditional published books are often released a year apart, episodes in a written serial may be released as often as each month or every six weeks.
Finally, each episode in a written serial ends with a cliff-hanger that will be resolved in the next episode. If you want to know what happened to the imperiled hero or heroine, you’ll just have to read the next episode!
All that being said, I am pleased to announce that work has begun on the first episode of the written serial, Vampire Journeys.
The first episode of Vampire Journeys, named appropriately enough, Beginnings, is set in France in 1775. Marie Antoinette is Queen, and is much concerned with her wardrobe and her dressmaker. No, I’m not talking about the famous dressmaker-entrepreneur Rose Bertin. I’m talking about the Queen’s other dressmaker – Rose Bertin’s young apprentice, Christine Chatelaine. You do remember her, don’t you? She was the designer who made the very special dress for Candy to wear to the dance in Candy Darque, Eighth-Grade Vampire.
Christine is accompanied on her vampire journey – a journey filled with the wonders of the world and the changes of the centuries – by a few other people you may recall: her beloved sister Suzanne, as well as her very dear friends John and Jeannette Darque, whose stories will be told in future episodes.
Watch for Beginnings, the first episode of the serial Vampire Journeys, in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com.
1 Showing episodes in random order is commonly referred to as “Fireflying,” referencing the way Fox engineered the demise of the beloved iconic Joss Whedon series.
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