Writing Bloody- Series vs. Serial


My favorite TV show of all time–Buffy the Vampire Slayer–is a series. What does that mean? Well, a series is a show with the same characters throughout, but the each episode is a different story. Take the Once More with Feeling episode. Admittedly one of my favorites, the characters are compelled by a demon to sing their truths. One episode. That’s it.




Yes, BtVS does have a thread that is carried throughout each episode–the love between the Slayer and the vampire (whether it’s Angel or Spike) and the fight between good and evil. But each time we tune in, there is a new story line and it’s wrapped up by the end of the 42 minute mark.

And what about Supernatural? Sam and Dean are fighting to keep their family together throughout the ten seasons it’s been on TV; keeping the overall arch of the story through each and every episode. Knowing this, I believe they still keep it more episodic and allow this show to be considered a series.




So what’s a good example of a serial? How about American Horror Story? Each episode takes us that much closer to finding out the truth of the characters. One show can’t stand alone. It needs it’s partner episode to continue the path until we reach the end.




Knowing all of this does beg the question…Why do we use the term “series” when talking about a sequel to a novel? Really, most of them are truly serials. They take the characters on a journey over time; building worlds and changing lives, but still it’s the same continuous storyline. Most of the horror stories out there are series. They may continue on to a new day, but more often than not there are new characters and new story.

In horror novels, most are series–at least the ones I’ve read are. I can’t think of one serial I’ve read. No matter if we’re talking about a series or serial, these types of novels are hard to write. You need to have a lot of stamina to take a story and create the depth necessary for a series, sequel, or serial. For me, my favorite type of horror to write is the stand alone. I never thought I had it in me to take my characters past one book. I have an idea for a series, but we’ll see how that works out.

How about we talk about our favorite horror series and/or serial. I’d love to create a list that we can keep on the blog. Please comment with your favs. Here’s my favorite serial: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry. Now…what’s yours?


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