Considering Contemporary Serials


We love our serials on the “Friend” Fiction desk.

We love reading them, and, of course, working on them with our writers.

For us, they are long-term projects. It isn’t uncommon for a serial to take over a year for completion, from the initial germ of an idea to the conclusion of the last instalment.

Amongst “Friend” writers, there are those who specialise in serials. They are most at home with the longer format of writing, enjoying the character development it allows, and more detailed storylines.

If you know your “Friend”, you’ll know we always run a period and contemporary serial side by side in the magazine.

What might come as a surprise to you, though, is that we often lack a variety of contemporary serials.

A Modern Challenge

The consensus in the Fiction team is contemporary serials are more challenging to write.

Period serials require a commitment to historical accuracy, of course, but they can allow more freedom in relation to plot.

For example, heroes and heroines can appear more dashing. Give your heroine a beanie hat and protest placard and you’ll pique a reader’s interest.

But give her a mask and a sabre, and that same interest will intensify.

The biggest challenge for writers of contemporary serials lies with plot.

There might be less scope for inventive plots within a contemporary world. Also, social convention will dictate the level of believability, with the likes of occupations and finances influencing plotlines.

But that shouldn’t limit today’s contemporary serial writer.

The secret to a successful serial is the characters, who should shine regardless of the time frame you place them in.

Though there’s only a finite amount of plots in fiction, there’s no reason why you can’t write a serial that stands out from the rest.

Don’t feel restricted by a contemporary story world. See it as a blank canvas in which your characters will have endless scope to express themselves.

You’ll find plenty of advice on writing serials by clicking the tag below.


Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.