If I’d written this article in 2012, I would have called it The Serial Revolution. In 2012, when Because You Are Mine first hit the e-book shelves, the serial novel was an old, but exciting re-discovery. Serial novels were a Victorian era craze. Thanks to e-books, the serial has found a whole new venue.
After several years and four serials written—my fourth, entitled Make Me, will begin releasing weekly on April 4, 2016—I have some new observations about the serial novel. Like the publishing industry in general, the serial is still a work in progress. It was unchartered territory when Berkley’s InterMix and I first put out Because You Are Mine in 2012, each installment releasing on Tuesdays for eight consecutive weeks. People either adored the format, or they hated it.
In essence, the serial novel echoed another preference we’ve all become familiar with in the past few years: do you watch your favorite television series live, or do you wait and binge?
When it comes to television, I’ll admit to being a binge watcher of late. I don’t get to watch TV much when I’m busy. If I find a television show I like, I reserve a weekend and binge on Netflix. Originally, I loved that idea one hundred percent. All our lives, we were forced to wait until the following week to get our fix. Like a person who has been deprived of food, money or freedom, there’s a definite tendency to binge when the circumstance alters.
For a while, anyway. At least for me.
Until following a television show binge, you feel kind of sluggish and irritable. Because you’re watching it seamlessly, the flaws are more evident. And let’s face it: spending that many hours with any person or character can start to wear on your nerves.
As an example, I’d never watched Glee before. I was hooked twenty minutes into the first episode. On Netflix, I realized there were six years worth of episodes. Heaven, right?
By Season Three, I was staying up later than I usually do, weirdly hypnotized. I was waking up later than usual in the morning with a binge hangover. By Season Five, I was fast forwarding through the song sequences. . . because, really? Do they have to break out in song over every meaningful glance? Even though the characters were actually more developed and interesting than when I first met them in Season One, I started to care about them less. I’d become a victim of Binge Boredom, a tyrant demanding increasingly more and at a faster pace to keep my attention. It’s like those intersession classes in grad school, where you plow through an entire class in three eight-hour sessions, and hardly remember anything for the long-term.
Or it’s like binging on chocolate. After a while, it just makes you sick.
There’s something to be said about doing something mindfully, and that includes entertainment. I’m not saying I still don’t love binging on television or gobbling up an entire book every once in a while. (And I still think Glee is brilliant. I felt the same about 24, Gilmore Girls, or Fringe when I binged on those). I’m just saying that when I think of the evolution of the serial novel, I think there’s a place for it alongside the traditional novel. I think it’s nice for busy people to reserve a special night for relaxing in front of a favorite show or reading a book installment, then letting the episode absorb a little. Mix up with their consciousness. Percolate. Build up some anticipation.
Actually mean something.
Beth Kery loves romance, and the more emotionally laden and sexy the romance, the better. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books and novellas. Beth can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and BethKery.com.