Episodic Writing

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Episodic Writing

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:34 am

Hey,

I've been going through the resources and found things on Episodic Writing. I'm not entirely sure I can wrap my head around it. I'm thinking of a different story to the one I'll be revising, but basically it's about these teenagers who go to a magic school and discover Narnia like qualities in it (rooms that are portals to different worlds). Each chapter focuses on them exploring different rooms. There are of course different plot lines going on, like a bad guy intent on cursing children and a romance brewing between a few of the teens. But from what I can figure out (and from the example given in the resources), this is episodic writing.

But then there is something else mentioned about making the characters proactive rather than reactive and that makes it less episodic. My characters proactively explore these rooms, their goal is to discover the mysteries of the universe. They reactively fight the bad guy but because they're teens, they don't really know how to fight him. Then in the second book (which I've semi-plotted out), they proactively fight him because they've had training...

In the book I'm revising, I've made a list of all of the scenes, and each scene has conflict, each explores the characters and develops them and furthers the plot. So, I think I should be right here... I hope... At least, the protagonist is proactive about a lot of things. She does react and blunder, but that blunder forces the plot forward...

I guess I'm just confused as to whether or not this is episodic writing. Any help would be appreciated, thanks Smile
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Waterfall17 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:23 am

I'm no expert and this is probably going to sound stupid, but I don't much see it mattering if you're shooting for a typical novel format.

The way I see it, episodic writing is more a collection of short stories tied together in a novel, or even sections of a novel tied together (part 1, part 2, etc.). I haven't read the source(s) in question, but I also feel reactive vs proactive is a moot point when it comes to absolute determination of whether a piece is episodic; every good protagonist and plot will have both qualities at various points. Frankly if the majority of the story was reactive it'd get boring fast...

I think about something like Stargate SG1/Atlantis and consider the majority of it to be reactive AT FIRST, but it quickly becomes proactive as they work out solutions (or...not...and are forced to try again). I don't think it's a big deal that your characters are actively searching out the rooms, especially if they have an additional incentive--one that's more reactionary--to do so.

Is there a particular reason you want/need to consider your piece as episodic? Are you not sure how to query if it is or isn't episodic? Admittedly that's way beyond my scope; the farthest I'm ever going to need to branch out in terms of style for a query is with poetry (like Ellen Hopkins, only without the edginess). It's good to be specific, but too much specificity could turn away a potential agent/editor who might otherwise be willing to give it a shot, if that makes sense
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:56 am

I guess I did get a little caught up in the proactive vs reactive qualities of my characters Smile

I'm not at the point where I can send it off to an editor/agent (I still need to revise it), but I guess I just wanted to know if my piece was episodic or not, so I could fix it and make it into a better piece before I even contemplate sending it off.

Thanks for your input Smile
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Sophie on Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:11 am

I think the main thing about episodic writing is that the scenes don't connect that well, and characters don't do anything proactive about their situation. They are basically dragged from scene to scene without anything actually driving them forward. They don't have any real goals.
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Waterfall17 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:33 pm

How does that work...? A protagonist needs to have a goal. Interesting topic
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Waterfall17 on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:33 am

Poetic-Jessie wrote:I guess I did get a little caught up in the proactive vs reactive qualities of my characters Smile

I'm not at the point where I can send it off to an editor/agent (I still need to revise it), but I guess I just wanted to know if my piece was episodic or not, so I could fix it and make it into a better piece before I even contemplate sending it off.

Thanks for your input Smile

No prob! Sorry if I came off as harsh :/...definitely not my intent. Sorry I couldn't offer anything authoritative!
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Call Me Nefret on Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:33 am

Waterfall17 wrote:How does that work...? A protagonist needs to have a goal. Interesting topic

Not necessarily. There are a lot of anti-heroes that don't really work to do anything. Take Brave New World for instance. They're just a person things happen to. They're not necessarily likable or sympathetic. A proactive person is much better liked by the reader/viewer.


As for the writing type, I've always considered episodic writing to be when the same characters are taking on much different tasks at a time and completing them before moving on to another. For instance, I'm doing a time traveling series where the people travel back in time to different time periods. Each book the villains are trying to mess with a different time period in a different way and the heroes are trying to stop them. Bad guys go to Victorian era to convince Jack the Ripper to be a better killer, good guys get in between them and Ripper suspects. Bad guys try to sink the slave ship famed poet Phyllis Wheatly came to the American colonies on, good guys keep it afloat. Introduction of conflict, struggling against conflict, conflict ending one way or another. Repeat with new conflict. Like a TV series.

Unless the bad guy is actively coming up with a new way to come at them in each room and they find new ways to beat him off, (lather, rinse, repeat) it's more traditional. A lot of stories will have a romance subplot, it doesn't necessarily facilitate its own story line or episode. It may be episodic if the bad guy introduces new conflicts in each room and the teens have to discover new ways to beat him. Or if there are different bad guys in each room.

In short, your story may have some elements of episodic writing, but as long as you separate them into scenes or chapters, you can basically write it in the traditional sense.
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Re: Episodic Writing

Post by Poetic-Jessie on Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:42 pm

Thanks for helping me Smile I appreciate the input, everyone. I don't think you came off as harsh, Waterfall17, and it's good to explore these things with other people.

In light of what Call Me Nefret said, I think my writing isn't too episodic. There are bad guys in every other room that the teens have to face and escape from, but other than that, it's more about exploration and the characters are proactive about it.

The main bad guy doesn't really come into the rooms, he's away from the school, manipulating things behind the scenes, vaguely Voldemort-ish. The teens only visit 12ish rooms before the overarching plot takes their focus away from exploration and shifts it onto the bad guy. I think I weave the plot threads well enough for this not to be episodic.
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Re: Episodic Writing

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