What is the difference between blogging, serials and novels?


Caleb Pirtle, my stablemate on Caleb and Linda Pirtle,  and I are having an ongoing discussion about blogging, serials and novels.

How are these forms of writing related?

Caleb pointed out to me the other day that one of the reasons he wanted to start writing serial novels as part of his blogging regimen was because blog-writing is one thing, novel-writing another. He said that just because a person can write a blog doesn’t mean he can write long-form fiction. They are apples and oranges.

The more I have thought about that, the more I know Caleb is spot on in his observation.

But, I also think that serial fiction writing is something of a middle ground between blogging and novels.

By this I do not mean to demean serials in any way. I am writing one right now, and plan to keep writing serials.  I believe they are a cool medium that readers find fun and entertaining. They are the Twilight Zone of episodic fiction writing, consisting of wonderful installments that leave readers wanting more.  

Caleb and I have written a lot of blogs, so we know the vibe.  It is an informal, quick and get to the point sort of writing that invites readers’ input through comments. A blog is a personal reflection, although it may lean toward journalism if it is addressing a news item.

A serial chapter is more refined.  It’s ultimate goal is to become part of a published full-length book.  But it also depends on cliffhangers to retain the reader’s interest.  What the hell is going to happen next?  This reality drives the serial genre, but not in a bad way.  For me, it makes serial writing liberating and fun. As I write a serial chapter, I know my subconscious is always working on some twist to spring on me in the last paragraph or two.

I love to read stuff like that, and I love to try to write it.

When you think about it, serials are the most life-like writing there is.  I mean, which of us knows what will happen to us tomorrow?

This brings me to novel writing.  The novelist has the advantage of knowing the future, or at least controlling it.  When she reaches the end of the book, she can look back and make all the pieces fit  (unlike what any of us can do with real life). Through the editing process, she has the gift of 20-20 hindsight. An author can take her book written on the fly as a serial and massage it before she releases it in its final book form. It is one of those rare do-overs.  

So, we have blogging, serials and full-length novels.  Each is a world of its own with its own rhythm, style and content.

Which do you prefer?  Do you like to read blogs, serials or full-length novels?  If you like to mix them up, what is the ratio?  Do you visit some blog sites day in and day out or do you surf around for new ones each time you read?



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