Guest Post: “The Series Payoff” by Marie Brennan

BrennanM-AuthorPicIf I had to name one specific story mode I love the most, it would be the closed-arc series.

Other kinds of stories are great, too! A self-contained, single-volume story can pack a hell of a punch, and I’m as susceptible as the next reader to wanting the continuing adventures of my favorite characters, tackling a new puzzle or threat every week. But my absolute favorite is the kind of story that takes place in multiple installments, maybe with a semi-episodic structure, but with an over-arching plot that will wrap up in due course.

The advantages of this form are (in my opinion) legion. Comparing them against the standalone novel: a series has more room to work with, and as a result, can pull off effects that are very difficult to do in a confined space. You can show long-term character development, without short-changing the amount of time and effort required to make that kind of thing plausible. You can lay groundwork and then leave it alone for long enough that the reader forgets about it, until it comes back to punch them in the face. You can make use of recurring motifs, revisiting a particular bit of plot from different angles, so the reader gets a variety of perspectives on it rather than just the one. Continue reading