Writing a novel or even a short story has a certain structure to it. There is always a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Episodic fiction is a different animal altogether. Some may think it’s writing chapters and dividing them up into “episodes”, which can be true for some.
What I found when writing The Brothers Locke is that you’re trying to advance the story as a whole while providing clues and hints as to where it’s going. This is much different from writing chapters which can be whole scenes in themselves. Episodes in literature are very much like episodes in television.
What conflict am I introducing?
What resolution can I present in the short amount of pages I’m writing?
How does this advance a particular character or theme?
That’s a lot to do in under 60 pages but it is possible.
The one word that kept coming into my mind when writing the series was “discipline”. While it was sometimes tempting to elaborate excessively in parts of the story, I had to keep in mind the point of this style of fiction is for a quick read.
It has to move fast, it can’t be too self indulgent.
Another major concern is how many episodes are you going to write. The Brothers Locke average around 30-45 pages per episode, so eight episodes in itself is a full length novel. I first thought it would be thirteen episodes but I soon found out by episode 4 that it would require a lot of stretching of the narrative to get to thirteen, so I decided on eight which was extremely helpful in getting the story where it needed to go.
Of course this is all based on your writing style. What works for me might not work for you. However, if you find yourself having some of the same issues I did when writing your first episodic literary series, some of these tips might be helpful.
The next blog post on this journey is about how to format these episodes for the eBook format.
The Brothers Locke is an 8-episode eBook series coming January 1st 2017.