Structuring A Series
What Would A Series Look Like?
Ever pondered what ties a TV series together?
In the early days, cast or setting bound series together. We watched episodes in any order because each episode stood on its own, and they weren’t connected. Summer reruns simply picked the best and showed them a second time
Recently, series have included over-arching season or series problems. Consider two examples. In Burn Notice, each episode contains a full arc, with several minutes devoted to struggling with a larger story issue. In each episode, we solve the weekly problem…and get a little closer to beating the season problem. With each installment, readers get a complete story…but writers must conjure with new plots for each episode. As to skipping episodes or watching out of order continuity problems might arise.
My First One
Toss that term into a gaggle of writers…but jump back. A religious squabble, much like adverbs, show-not-tell, or dialog tags, will break out…friendships ripped asunder in by slashing tongues.
For the longest time, I resided in the don’t-do-prologues camp, readily admitting to skipping or skimming them. Weird, but no different from reading the final chapter before returning to the story.
Unfortunately, anything written in italics, which includes prologues, aggravates my astigmatism, whether wearing glasses (ugh) or contacts. Fonts with jagged little edges hurt my eyes, and italicized Times New Roman becomes unreadable.
I also distrust prologues for another reason. Somehow, whatever occurs in the prologue doesn’t matter, with an inescapable feeling it already happened. I don’t anticipate adventure or mystery like the real story, and that spurs me to race over them.
Thoughts On A Series
What Would A Story Look Like?
Have I written my prologue and finished off my WIP?
Great question…and no good answer.
Instead, I’m drawn to something I’ve longed to write — a series using an approach similar to those bingish short shows Netflix and others keep trotting out. An overall arc unfolds, often in six or twelve episodes, each less than sixty minutes. By binge watching, we get through them in two or three nights.
So, let’s focus on writing episodes. We can discuss series-arcs another time…when I have an answer. Ha
Consider episode lengths on American TV. One-hour shows typically use less than forty-five minutes of air time. And, if we use an old film measure of one page per minute, that’s forty-five pages. If each page has 250 words, that’s 11,250 words…which rounds to 12,000. Since commercials come on the hour, half-hour, and both quarter-hours, episodes break into four parts. That means 3,000 words for each part.