Serial Stories

Screenshot of timeline showing publication dates of famous literary novels (Count of Monte Cristo, Vanity Fair, Uncle Tom's Cabin, North and South, Madame Bovary, The Woman in White, and A Tale of Two Cities.

Would you read a longform story if it was divided into shorter pieces published once a week?

(Image credit: Books On the Wall)

In the nineteenth century, serial publication was common. Authors and magazines released long stories bit by bit, enticing readers to stay tuned. Often, each piece of the story ended on a cliffhanger, which left readers and listeners eager for the next installment. Perhaps the most famous serial author is Charles Dickens, who somehow kept up with a grueling production schedule to produce classic novels like The Tale of Two Cities — and without the convenience of digital tools.

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Are today’s readers too accustomed to immediate reading gratification to be interested in works in a serial format? Or are our attention spans and free time limited in a way that makes the serial format convenient and manageable for us?

This month, I’m experimenting with the serial format by publishing one chapter per week of Walk Away, my 2016 Kindle Singles memoir of my experience with teenage intimate partner violence.

Here’s a “friend link” to the first installment that will open Medium’s paywall for you. Meanwhile, best wishes from my teenage self — who survived with the help of her friends.

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