In literature, a serial is a printed format in which a single larger body of work (often a work of narrative fiction) is published in sequential installments. It isn’t a new concept. Many believe serialization was made popular by Charles Dickens starting with The Pickwick Papers in 1836 and later Dombey and Son, which began serialization on October 1st 1846. Although serialized content existed prior to that, it was Dickens who commanded a large audience for the form and truly popularized it.
180 years later we are still seeing an appetite for it. On Wattpad many of our creators choose to serialize their stories, releasing one or two chapters per week to their audience of social readers. This works well because it makes the stories more digestible (you can read 2000 words or less in line, in transit or waiting at a doctor’s office). This makes reading something that can fit into most people’s busy modern lives. But the interesting thing about serialization on Wattpad is that it is often a major driver for collaboration. Pushing out a chapter at a time allows for a level of audience engagement that you simply can’t get otherwise. This format is what allows the author to take in reader feedback chapter by chapter, consider alternative viewpoints, and even change the story on the fly based on what resonates with the audience. This is an incredibly powerful tool for authors to have at their disposal.
Reading is something that we are continually redefining. Serialized content works for both the audience and the author, because it provides a pause and an opportunity to engage and create conversation, which ultimately forms deeper and more meaningful human interactions.