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Episodic Writing

February 3, 2008

As an aspiring writer, I run into a dilemma that, if not unique to aspiring writers, is at least accentuated by that circumstance. The question is whether I should write a bunch of short stories or a novel length story. It may sound like not much of a dilemma, but it is. Short stories have the potential for a writer to work on specific aspects of their craft, and in addition to that, they are much easier to sell (and if they don’t sell, its a much smaller investment of time). Novels, on the other hand, are much closer to what I want to do in the long run, and I find it much easier to work on novel-length stories.

With an episodic approach to fiction, however, I should be able to write an episode, write a short story, write an episode, and so on. It may seem that this is little different from simply taking breaks from a novel. I would argue that it is different, however. The whole idea of an episode is that every single one has a beginning, middle, and end. What this means is that there is a natural breaking point, and also a natural point to pick things back up. The problem with taking a break from a novel is not that you are taking a break from it, but rather that you are leaving something hanging, making it easy to just drop it.   In theory, by taking a break, hopefully I will be letting my subconscious work on the story, making the next episode easier to write.

As I am about to finish with the first episode of the story that I’m working on, I will have a chance to see how it works.  The only remaining problem is what I should write before starting work on the next episode.  Should I write something within the same world?  Or should I work on something completely different and self contained?  I’ll let you know as things go on.

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