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Date Posted: 11:57:39 01/02/21 Sat
Author: River Acheron
Subject: Stand-alone vs. Serialization (E)
Stand-alone vs. Serialization (E)
In the world of story-telling, regardless of the medium, we have two
main types of tales.
On the one hand, we have stand-alone stories. They need not be short
per-se (they often are, but it's not really a requirement), but to be a
stand-alone story, it doesn't fit into a wider multi-part universe. I
will use 'Star Trek' as an example of both types. In the original
series, and 'Next Generation', etc, we have episodes of the week, right?
There's very little, if any continuity, except for two-parters or season
cliffhangers. (Aka The "magic reset button"). This paradigm is also used
by most sitcoms. As crazy and outrageous things get, by the end of the
tale, everything is magically restored to the status quo, and in older
sitcoms like 'I Love Lucy' or 'The Honeymooners', sometimes without any
explanation! In fanfics or online stories in general, we see this in a
stand-alone one part story. It's not a tale that goes on for months or
years. The pro of this type of story-telling is that it doesn't require
much time investment. We can digest only what we wish, without worrying
too much about an over-arcing universe to keep track of. The con of this
type of story telling is that, often times it leaves the reader or
viewer wanting more. In something like a sitcom, or the older Star Trek
series, it also requires one to somewhat suspend disbelief. Also,
there's usually less time for believable character development
The next mode of story-telling is serialization. While this has become
the norm as of late, it has it roots in old radio dramas from the 1930's
and 40's, such as 'The Shadow' or 'Flash Gordon') To use Star Trek as an
example again, this would include the newer series, such as 'Discovery'.
These types of tales encompass a much larger world, with multiple parts
(and sometimes even multiple franchises converging into a "cinematic
universe"). With online fanfics or stories in general, these would
include multi-part sagas that go on for years, sometimes decades. (Take
'Gone From Daylight' for example). The pro of this method of
story-telling is, obviously it allows the characters and the world in
general to be more fleshed out in greater detail. The con is that it's a
bit of a time sink. You cannot just hop into season 4, episode 2 of 'The
Walking Dead', for example. To understand the story in it's entirety,
you have to watch from season 1, episode 1. To a lot of viewers (or in
our case, readers), this can sometimes be a daunting task.
My question for December is, when reading stories online (or in the
bookstore for that matter), or watching TV...which method of
storytelling do you prefer? This question is actually not so cut and dry
because there are some tales that can be hybrids. Think of 'The X-Files'
for example. You had two main types of stories. The 'Monster of the
Week' episodes, which were stand alone tales...and you also had the
'mythology' episodes interspersed within them. These episodes followed a
very complicated multi-season story-arc. Personally, (this is totally
not a cop out answer!), when it comes to the visual arts, I prefer a
blend of both. Like 'X-Files', or 'Star Trek: Deep Space 9' that was
part stand-alone and part serialized (especially towards the end of the
run). For me, this allows the plot and characters to be fleshed out and
extremely detailed, yet gives us a breather every now and then
(side-quests, lets call them! lol). However, in the written form such as
fanfics or even novels, I prefer serialization. Stories like 'Gone From
Daylight', or Stephen King's 'Dark Tower' 8 part book series, or the
'Dragonlance' fantasy novels by Weis and Hickman. Not to mention all the
manga I read. When it comes to the written word (or graphic novels), I
absolutely gravitate to those multi-part tales that literally create a
world for us and goes on and on and may not ever end. Take 'Superman'
for example which has been an ongoing saga the started in June of 1938
and shows no signs of ever stopping. To me, these are other worlds that
exist...we created them parallel to our own, and we can enter them any
time we wish. :) There's something very epic about it all. I'm curious
as to what your opinions are. Do you rather read/watch little stand
alone stories, or do you prefer serialized story-arcs? Or...like me,
does it differ depending on the medium?
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