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Distilled Notes: Structure and Development of a Web Serial

August 15, 2013
Robert Jordan's Wheel of TIme--Dragon chapter header

Today I will go to a thrift store and try to find a white chess pawn and a Swiss Army Knife.  When I think of two more items I will have four–one specifically chosen image for each character in Distilled Spirits.  This is an idea I came up with last week and is a happy result of making things up as I go along,

Many blog-advice writers are keen on including the “need of visuals” among their oft-published lists, (never 10 bullet-points anymore though, because 10 has become passé).  But the real reason I will soon include small images in the headers for my Distilled Spirits chapters is that I can.  The web serial format allows for this visual and written interweaving that isn’t always possible in other written forms.  Sure, there are picture books for children and young adults, as well as nonfiction with supportive photographs (like Steinbeck’s A Russian Journal), but for fiction?

The closest corollary is the image that heads this post.  In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time sprawling fantasy series, the author writes from many perspectives, and in each character’s  chapter he uses a specific image as a header.  This image not only tells the reader what character is next (or what type of situation will likely occur), but becomes associated with that character in the mind of the reader.

          Since this web serial is an experiment in form, I’m able to make decisions such as this as I go–but how to organize this story has always been on my mind.  And there are a few things that I would like to lay out plainly.  You may notice that some of this does not apply to Distilled Spirits up to this point–this is because the initial chapters are intended as an introduction to each character and their world.

•  Four chapters (one from each character) will comprise one ‘episode’

•  Each chapter will primarily attempt to advance the individual character’s story while moving the episode forward

•  Each episode will attempt to have a (mostly) self-contained story arc

•  Every episode will build upon the greater story arc of the ‘season’

•  During this season, the chapter order will continue as Sidney, Geno, Caitlyn, Glenn

•  The length of a season (how many episodes) is yet to be determined

11/19 Addition: Since this post was made, I have determined the proper length of a season to be 5 episodes, or 20 chapters.

          You should notice the crossover terminology between TV shows and writing.  I believe the seasonal and episodic format of television works perfectly with a web serial.  Going forward, readers can expect stories to begin and end in digestible amounts of writing while building toward exciting pitfalls and climaxes.

In the end, this is an experiment, and I hope you enjoy the ride.

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3 Comments
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  1. Distilled Notes: Halloween, Thursdays, and the End of a Season | Devon Claytor

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