Every writer has a good story to tell, but can you write a never-ending story?
General Hospital, one of the last-standing soap operas, is celebrating its 50th anniversary and 13,000th episode. Imagine a story that has no conclusion, but just keeps going along. Granted, not much if the original story line may exist, but the story, like life, evolved and progressed in a connected way to get it to where it is today. Can a writer create a book that is delivered episodically online, forever? Why not?
I am not talking about a brief experiment, where a new page or chapter is posted daily or weekly over a set period of time. I am talking about a drip approach, of say 1,000 words a day-- weekends and holidays included. Every two or three months the equivalent of a new book would be released. Forever. Or until the author dies or stops writing. And if the author wants to mentor another to take it over at some point, that is good too.
How would consumers respond to such an opportunity? Would they embrace the novelty or would they feel burdened by it? Would the author be able to create at such a hectic pace?
For those who blog daily you might say it is no big deal to do what I am proposing, though I caution, daily fiction is vastly different than penning daily musings and non-fiction.
Soap operas that run a half hour a day are really 22 minutes long when you factor out commercials. If in each minute, 250-275 words of dialogue are spoken, it would appear 5500 - 6000 words are used each day of the business week ... Or 30,000 words a week. In two or three weeks that would equal a book. Which is more challenging-- to use a lot of words to tell a story-- or a few?
How would an author charge for this? A five-year pass? A two-year deal? A one-year subscription fee? A daily fee of a few pennies? Get a corporate sponsor?
If you think about it, the author doesn't have to write 1000 words a day. He or she can take three months to write a book and then release it in increments, and while that is going on, he or she is doing the next book. So this allows for authors to take breaks, be sick, travel or do whatever while not altering the delivery schedule to consumers.
There is something radically different from reading something as it unfolds daily than to consume a whole book in a day or week. I don't think one can just chop a book up into 90 mini chapters. One has to write with that format in mind and to use the format strategically in the way characters and ideas are introduced and manipulated.
We do many things daily-- read certain blogs and newspapers, watch a TV show like a late night comedy or the news-- and our addiction to routine and familiarity are satiated. So why not an episodic book to ground us and provide an escape from our life challenges? We know this formula worked for a long time on TV with soaps. Are we ready for it in book form?
We try to capture the soap feel when we submerge ourselves into reality shows but they don't air often enough to fully lose your life into them.
Maybe if there were different themed soap books that could capture the stages of our life, we would have a winner. For instance, what if we had book soaps written for a five year old, a six year old, etc... one for each age and stage... high school, college, grad school, moving out, marriage, kids, etc.? We can have a star of each soap appeal to a specific segment or lifestyle... Gay, Latino, West Coast, Seniors, etc. So no matter your demographic in age, sex, education, income, etc, there is a soap book that you could tap into and get hooked on.
I think I am on to something. Feel free to use my idea... If you can pop out good fiction at a fast pace you should be able to pull it off.
On the other hand, if you can convey a strong message in a story that takes the length of a standard book, do that as well. There is a readership for every topic, every format. With good book marketing, you will find your readers.
Good luck on your 70-year adventure!