That’s funny, considering that I’ve written at least a hundred stories about a serial character – Brother Willie.
Even so, serial fiction bores me pretty quickly because, unlike a Willie story, a ‘series’ story is really just the same story over and over again.
It’s a labor-saving device for the writer: Why tailor a new suit every time you go out when the same old duds will do? But it’s a labor-saving device for the reader, too: Why bother to break in a new outfit when the old clothes are still so comfy?
I’d hate to have to think of all the different ways I hate those notions. I’m never at risk of having to write that way: A consolation of my obscurity is that I am from every side unassailed. But I hate it all on the receiving end, too. I can take the first telling of a serial yarn, sometimes even the second, but as soon as I start to feel worked – pandered to – I’m gone.
But: I like the telenovela format. Not the soap-operatic stories you see on Spanish-language TV, but simply the idea of telling one big story over the course of one season of television programming. Not the same story over and over again, season after season, like “Mad Men.” One story, one season, one work.
That format works as broadcast TV, but it works even better for binge-pimping stream-programmers like Netflix or Amazon.
Witness: “House of Cards” would be more satisfyingly surprising with the normal seven days between episodes, to give you time to forget the repeated tricks and tropes.
But a true telenovela – a novel-length story told in 15 or 25 hours of TV episodes – is the perfect format for binge-watching: It rewards continued attention without annoying repetitions of story arcs and plot devices.
Here’s one I’d love to see as soon as possible:
“Thriving through Harvey – Texas is why they made Texans.”
There are hundreds of wonderful benedies in last week’s news – including this one about the delightful exuberance of a supermarket chain’s logistics boss. I’d love to see a baker’s dozen of the best of those stories bundled up into a bigger story about how Texans took on Harvey and managed to thrive like human beings through it all.
That’s my kind of story told my way: The story has wings – it soars. And it has legs – people want to hear stories about people like themsleves triumphing over the fates. And it has a built-in, plugged-in target market of 28 million Texans.
That sounds like a product to me. I’d watch it, if someone would make it, but I’d happily make it, too, if I could, any part of it I could do.
Now’s a good time to make some.