Serial and Milk

Remember when you were little and you used to go to the movies, you would pay ten cents for your ticket and a nickel for your popcorn, then amble in, find your seat and watch the exciting adventures play out from the week before?

No? Wrong decade, huh?

Well, coming up in the wrong decade didn’t stop George Lucas when he took the serial aesthetic and threw it on the big screen in 1977, and that first success flowed straight into another when he teamed up with Spielberg a few years later to pour some more serial with Indiana Jones.

Serialized fiction is wonderful. Today, some of our favorite TV shows are fine examples of exactly that. Sopranos, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Dexter, The Shield, Veronica Mars, the The Wire and (drool) LOST. There’s something about ending on a cliffhanger and starting with a bang that rolls our blood to a boil.

When we were designing the Inkwell, we knew for certain that we wanted to play with some fiction, and this old school format that’s been around since The Illiad and The Odyssey seemed to be the perfect mechanism. Now that I’m a writer I know just what to do.

Next week, and every Friday thereafter, the Inkwell will publish a fresh installment of a serialized story. Our first installment is a horror tale that’s been buzzing in David Wright’s brain for more than two decades. It was gathering dust when he decided to pitch it to me for fun to see what I could do with it.

The collaborative effort of both of our voices have jolted this monster to life and we can’t wait to unleash it on the world. We’ll talk a bit about the story behind the story next Thursday as an appetizer.

Make sure to subscribe by email or RSS so you don’t miss a single adventure!

Question: What is your favorite example of serialized fiction and why?

See you Monday.

34 responses to Serial and Milk

  1. Marc - WelshScribe

    Looking forward to reading it but you could be a better tease Sean 😉

    How about an opening sentence, an overview, something better than “a horror tale that’s been buzzing in David Wright’s brain for more than two decades”

    Think of those adverts that grab your attention; “Next week on Lost…”

    A lot of us are old time faithfuls, drawn from the depths of Writer Dad/BB/Blogger Dad so we’re already lined up and ready to read.

    Now is the time to entice the new subscribers, the poor saps who have missed out on your collective wisdom. So without further ado…

    “Next week on Serial and Milk…”

  2. Marc - WelshScribe

    Oops forgot to answer the question.

    A lot of the same things you like: Lost, BSG, Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, Harry Potter. I’m actually getting into The Listener now but my judgement is still reserved on that one


    Heroes, meh not so much anymore, kind of jumped the shark for me.

  3. janice

    Ehm, that decade you referred to? Mine. I used to watch Batman tied up and facing death in the cinema on a Saturday and get left dangling on a POW!! and a ZAP!! till the next episode. We only had two TV channels when I was growing up and my parents got colour TV when I was 18. (This is probably as much of an income thing as an age thing!)

    Favourite traditionally serialised fiction in writing ? Dickens. Favourite TV series in the last few years? 24, The West Wing, Friends. Recent films that have made me look forward to the next one? Bourne, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Recent-ish book series? Harry Potter. Fictional family that made the most impression? The Waltons.

    Looking forward to Serial and Milk!

  4. Lori -- SpaceAgeSage

    My favorite? C. S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower” novels. What kid couldn’t resist high seas adventure, military daring, an insecure midshipman who develops into a heroic officer of the Royal Navy, and a wonderful love story?

  5. Sean

    Marc: You’re totally right, I could’ve teased that better. Thanks for labeling everyone who hasn’t hopped aboard our train as “poor saps.” That’s just awesome. Maybe I’ll write a tease for next week and dig in deep as to why I love serial stuff so much.

    Bamboo: Do you watch LOST. Bad-ass, that.

    Janice: The 60’s Batman is a fantastic example of serialized TV. Great choices on your TV and movies (Friends is a BIG Cindy favorite). Same question as to Bamboo, do you watch LOST?

    Lori: We’ve already talked about how you don’t watch LOST and I’m still in disbelief. I’ve never read anything from C.S. Forester, but I will add it to my long list. Totally sounds like my cup of tea.

  6. Randi

    Well, you already know *I* watch Lost since I blew the Sayid shot little Ben episode for you. Lost is the god of serials, so much so that when people tell me they think they’ll start watching it, I’ll respond, “You can’t.” No, they can’t just “start” watching Lost. That would be a sacrilege. It has to be consumed one delicious episode at a time (any good video store or library has the entire series on DVD.) I love Lost because I admire the writers’ ability to interweave multiple story lines frontward and backward without losing credibility. When I grow up I want to write like that. Plus, they don’t “dumb down” their content. They assume they are writing for a knowledgeable audience.

    I also love the Harry Potter series. As it progresses, the good seem to become more good and the evil more evil–much like I see the world today becoming.

    As a teen it was Piers Anthony’s Xanth series and Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever. Tasty. Ooh, ooh and The Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card.

    And who can forget the anxiety at the end of FOTR and TTT, knowing you had to wait another *year* for the next one to come out. I remember at the theater when ROTK got over and the closing credits were going up, looking at my husband and saying, “Now we have nothing to look forward to next year.” 🙂

    Serials. Gotta love ’em. They’re like The Song That Never Ends, only they’re not songs.

  7. Marc - WelshScribe

    @Randi Stop spoiling LOST 😛

    “Plus, they don’t “dumb down” their content.”

    Amen to that! I remember some of the critics saying it was too complicated for the average American. I think it was those same critics that said 24 would never work.

    I remember the week before ROTK was released the local cinema had a special screening of FOTR and TTT back to back with a 20 minute break inbetween. Sounded great and it was, apart from the sore back, legs and butt from sitting in the chairs for 6 hours!

    Can’t wait to see The Hobbit.

  8. Randi

    What??? There’s going to be a Hobbit??? I did not know this. When? And please tell me Peter Jackson is doing it? Your six hour LOTRfest sounded fun!

    24 is great. 60 minutes of non-stop ulcer-producing anxiety every week. Love it.

    Ok, I’ll stop spoiling Lost. Did anyone see what Tony did on 24 last week? AAAGH!

  9. Marc - WelshScribe

    Yeah after a few years of legal battles Peter Jackson has finally had the go ahead to do The Hobbit. Last I heard it was due for release 2011.

    And you can stop spoiling 24 as well 😛

  10. Sean

    Randi: One of the things I’m most looking forward to upon the conclusion of LOST, is to return to the beginning and soak them up, episode by episode. I don’t think there’s ever been a show on TV I’ve enjoyed more. There may be shows that are technically better, the Wire for one, but LOST touches me in all the right places. I LOVE it.

    Randi/Marc: The Hobbit is officially out of legal limbo. The battles had to do with the fact that one company owned the film rights and another owned the distribution rights, no one wanted to play nice, and Peter Jackson wasn’t willing to put up with the BS. Now that everything is settled, the movie is in pre-production. However, Jackson isn’t directing. He’s producing and has final script approval, but the film itself is being helmed by Guillermo del Toro. This is a good choice in my opinion if they can’t get Jackson. Del Toro knows his stuff and recently made the gorgeous and gothic Pan’s Labyrinth as well as the comic book movies Hellboy and Hellboy II (among others). Jackson has many projects on his table, the first of which is an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s book “Lovely Bones,” which I read, love, and eagerly await.

  11. Randi

    Lost is amazing. What’s even better is if you can catch the enhanced versions that tell all the relationships and innuendos that I missed the first time around.

    What is this “Lovely Bones” book about? Is it scary? I’ve heard Jackson loves doing horror.

  12. janice

    I’m waiting till Lost is finished, then we’re going to rent the DVD sets. That’s what we did with Friends, 24 and the West Wing. Please don’t laugh, but my husband and I used to settle in for the evening after the kids were in bed and have two hour ‘Friends’ fests, or watch “…just one episode of 24..” that turned into three! We don’t watch much ‘real’ TV but prefer to watch stuff like this in batches. And the 60’s Batman serialisation? I watched it in the cinema… (Tell Cindy we’ll have a ‘Friends’ fest evening when you come to visit!)

  13. Marc - WelshScribe

    @Randi Lovely Bones is about a girl that has been murdered and she is watching over her family from Heaven who she wants to see “healed” of their pain and anguish while simultaneously watching her killer who she wants to seek revenge upon.

    My fiancée keeps trying to get me to read the book.

    @Sean Thanks for the update. I’m quite pleased with the fact Del Toro is directing the film I’ve enjoyed his work.

  14. Randi

    Janice: That’s exactly how we watched the first two seasons of Lost! We were latecomers so we rented DVD’s until we were done, usually watching three at once (no commercials-yay!)
    After that, we watched them online. We don’t watch much real TV either since we cancelled our cable. We finally bought an antenna, so we watch some TV on the actual TV set, but we still watch a lot online. No commercials, we can watch when we want, we can rewind, etc.

    Marc: Thanks for the info on “Lovely Bones.” It sounds like a good book. Unfortunately for me, I am a movie wimp so I am more likely to read it than watch it in the theater.

  15. Sean

    Randi: Lovely Bones isn’t scary at all, though it is a bit grim. You probably don’t want to check out any of Peter Jackson’s pre LOTR movies. I’m probably safe in the assumption they’re not your cup of tea. Maybe Heavenly Creatures, but that’s about it.

    Marc: Yeah, if it can’t be Jackson, I think Del Toro is an excellent choice.

    Janice: That’s how Cindy and I prefer to watch almost all of our TV except for the stuff we’re totally addicted to, such as LOST and BSG.

    Jenny: Fantastic choices, Jenny. No LOST?

    Why is LOST having such a hard time getting the love around here and where are you Dave? You need to wave your pom poms for the Island.

  16. janice

    Randi and Sean,
    So relieved we’re not the only ones who’ve figured out that well made episodes of a series watched back to back are often better than a sloppily put together film. We do that with this year’s American Idol, too, record both nights and then watch them all together on a Saturday with no adverts.

    I hope you and Dave are taking in all of our preferences, Sean, ready to give us something really addictive so we’ll save money renting DVD’s!

    • Sean

      We’re working on it. The story’s been stewing in Dave’s noggin for round about a decade I think. I’m just doing what I can to add a different shade.

      Dave and Sean’s last blog post..A Cornucopia of Thanks

  17. Laura

    That is so cool. Yes, a bit before my time, but I have so much enjoyed them. Just in time, to subscribe and enjoy your works. Looking forward to Fridays 🙂

    • Sean

      Me too! It’s certain to be one of my favorite parts of the week: collaborating, publishing, and rapping out about the week’s entry. Should be totally awesome.

  18. jan geronimo

    Everybody has only good words for Lost. Maybe I’d look for DVD of it – the local cable company doesn’t have it. I’m sure I’d have a sublime experience watching it when it comes to that, finally, although I’m a little worried about that show touching me in several places – even at the right ones. 🙂

    The ones close to my heart though are Frasier, 24, and Grey’s Anatomy.

    • Sean

      You totally won’t be sorry. It will affect you if you allow it, especially if you’re willing to lend it your patience, but it is (I feel) a bit transcendent.

      Dave and Sean’s last blog post..A Cornucopia of Thanks

  19. Eric Hamm | Motivate Thyself

    Prison Break is one Liz and I have watched since season 2. It’s pretty good and certainly keeps you wanting more. Not our absolute favorite, but one I don’t see mentioned.

    We dropped lost after season 3. Couldn’t take it anymore. First they’re on the island, then off, then on…I’m waiting for them to be abducted by aliens and end up on a on a pink planet with little marshmallow people dancing around, doing the funky chicken. I’m just sayn’! 😀 Eric

  20. Mark Dykeman

    Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and Heroes (before it went AWOL Season 2 and has fumbled to try to get its groove back since then) are among my favorite examples of serialized TV (can’t forget Babylon 5)…

    But my favorite form of serialized fiction is ye olde comic book. Cliffhanger after cliffhanger, multi-part story lines, etc… that’s where it’s at for me.

    • Sean

      All excellent choices, and I totally agree about Heroes. I wouldn’t be the writer, thinker, or person I am today if I hadn’t cut my teeth on so many comics. Yummy. I know it’s common, but Batman was always my favorite.

      Dave and Sean’s last blog post..A Cornucopia of Thanks

  21. Bamboo Forest

    I write my ideas in small notebooks mostly.

    The only thing scary is losing the notebooks.

    I wish I had a manner to file my ideas. Sometimes I just have to page through them to find what I’m looking for. There has to be a better way.

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