Simon, special thanks for this: "Writers on Substack . . . can do whatever they want. Short stories, short serials, serialised novels, or super long-form serials like Triverse. The shackles are off. Writing is unique in that it has no real production cost other than time.¹ The story can come first, every time."

I'm transitioning from novel to serial short--a couple of experimental rewrites out/scheduled, starting the next project now and thinking hard about structure, pacing, length of episodes, etc. I very much appreciate your comparison of short/longform TV serialization. Very helpful as I try to figure out what I'm doing--a LOT more thinking than I put into the novels I've done.

Just one thing: You're right, no production cost other than the writer's time. But we're still working within severe constraints: primarily length of reading time and demand on the reader's recall and willingness to wait. I spend much more time thinking about how many demands I can place on the reader before she (most of my readers are women) hits the delete key. Or more: punches the unsub button. This writer-reader delivery system is far closer and more immediate than I'm used to as a novelist. A bit disconcerting.

Expand full comment

Streaming TV has become an endless serving of entrees. It's deeply unsatisfying.

I ran out of traditional long form shows earlier this year (coming late to steaming, I had a riches of content to catch up with). I'm bereft. Watching lots of foreign films doesn't fill the couch potato hole. Films have a different purpose and semiotics.

Unfortunately, serial fiction isn't fungible either, it's a medium unto itself, as is a traditional book.

The golden era of television has been pronounced dead many times. Perhaps this time it's true. If so, it's going to be a deep cultural loss. An important entertainment loss, as well, sure, but the culture loss is immeasurable.

Expand full comment