Structure?

I'm new to the serial format. I was writing YA fiction novels before switching genres (and formats) and have come to realize that writing serials is different than writing novels. There's the typical 3-Act Structure that some authors follow: Inciting incident is first 25% of the book, midpoint is 50% of book, etc. But is there really any structure like that within serial fiction? Do any of you follow a particular structure or do you just pants it? Thanks.


Hello Evolet.


I can only tell you what works for me as far as structure. I have 148 episodes written in five parts or 'arcs' so far. I set up my serial so that each arc works as its own stand alone story (with the standard beginning, middle, end), but it also serves the overall story with each arc revealing some new layer or facet to the bigger tale while introducing sub-stories all along the way. I often introduce characters in one arc, tell a part of their story, then they may go away for a while to return in a later arc.


Now, I have multiple MC's throughout that share the stage at any given time so that no character stories are neglected as each of their stories serve the bigger picture. What this does for me in regards to writing a serial novel is that I never find myself for lack of story, nor do I take one character and spread him or her out too thin over too many story arcs. I find myself being able to jump in and out of different places at different times with different characters in various arcs that all end up being connected in the coolest ways.


I have roughly outlined my entire series (I'm presently 1/3 of the way there), leaving myself plenty of room to adapt and change things along the way while maintaining the overall scope that I want to achieve. I think that it's important to have some general ideas to write towards and that it might be extremely difficult and risky to wing writing a serial novel, considering how long it might become. The worst thing you could do is write yourself into a tight corner with nowhere new to go (I cringe at the thought).


Anyway, that's where I am with structure. Hope it helps some ;)


I don't know that you can necessarily pin down percentages for a serial (everyone is different), but most stories regardless of format do follow the "complicating incident - rising action - climax" kind of structure. So there's something you're building towards, even if not in clearly defined page counts. And as Scott said, I think one of the main things in a serial is the notion of "room to adapt and change". So maybe what you thought was your climax ends up as merely another stumbling block as you build towards something greater. Or it still works as a climax, but then spawns some sort of spinoff or continuation.


That tends to be the "structure" I follow, at least - I know I'm building to something, but I don't know exactly how long it will take to get there. Maybe I'm thinking 10 parts, but then it takes more. Yet this can mean the format of that key event might change by the time I get there too, so that event itself spans multiple parts. Granted, there's also the time I've put in kind of a "filler" episode, to keep things at six parts (for something like a six issue miniseries), but I haven't had cause to do that lately.


Scott and mathtans - Thanks for the advice. I think I'm just going to have to retrain myself a bit. I know there's going to be a learning curve when I start this, so I'll see how it goes.