I have spent a lot of time reading graphic-novels and watching television series, most of which were anime. Now that I have reached the point where I'm ready to begin writing, I feel drawn to the format of the media that I have consumed.

Which leads me to want write each chapter as it's own short-story, having a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Each chapter would be akin to a single episode of a television series or an issue of a graphic-novel.

What is some general guidance on how this might be done? What are the prominent difficulties of this format for a novel and how can they be handled? What are the potential strengths of the format and how can they be exploited?

Examples of this having been done would also be helpful.

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    Closing for now, but please do edit this so it's more specific. In its current form it's going to attract vague answers. Mar 1, 2015 at 1:49
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    Can't answer closed question, so a brief comment: In many novels the chapters are not unlike episodes in a tv series, in that they also have an internal structure of episode-premise, episode-goal, episode-obstactles, episode-solution, and at the same time progress the series storyline and end with a cliffhanger related to that "big" story. Many contemporary novels have chapters ending in cliffhangers (a typial tv series device), they have small storylines that are completed within the chapter, they may have different viewpoints and narrative styles, and so on. So there really is no difference.
    – user5645
    Mar 2, 2015 at 8:22
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    This question is completely clear, comprehensible and focussed to me (see my comment). Please reopen.
    – user5645
    Mar 2, 2015 at 8:24
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    @what you clarified thing for me. I guess a better question would be how to structure a book to math so that the chapters match the sequential feel of a television or graphic novel series. Mar 2, 2015 at 18:01
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    I'm with @what; this seemed pretty clear to me. I can't answer it, but I understood it perfectly. Mar 3, 2015 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


While I have never published anything like this, I have plotted and written something based along the same premise of a TV series. Therefore, I'm speaking from the viewpoint of the writer and plot developer only.

What is some general guidance on how this might be done?

The first thing you need to do is work out your premise - the main storyline, the tale that will transcend all of your episodes. I will be very nearly like a regular novel, though you do need to leave plenty of room for twists/revelations. You also need to determine if you want to leave it open-ended - that is, if you want a defined 'end,' or if you want to keep going for as long as you can (rather like a TV series). If you want to keep going, you will need a premise that allows you to simply stack more twists on it, rather than wrapping it up at the end of each 'season.'

Once you've developed your main premise, you're ready to start on the plots for the individual episodes or chapters. These develop the same way as a normal novel, except for the fact that they are of necessity shorter. You do not need to include part of your main premise in every episode, but be sure to have it in the background.

What are the prominent difficulties of this format for a novel and how can they be handled?

The most prominent difficulty? Keeping things connected. Since every chapter is its own story, it's very important that you keep everything connected with the main premise (a word of caution - readers will begin to see coincidences if absolutely everything is connected). Rather than making things connected through the physical (the main character is related to someone), connect them now and then through emotions or the like (this means something to the protagonist, even if it is only in a symbolic way).

What are the potential strengths of the format and how can they be exploited?

I would say one of the best strengths is the power to keep readers reading. At first, a chapter that has a beginning, middle, and end, may seem like it ties everything up with every episode, and the reader is satisfied. The reader is satisfied, but it's your job to make him keep wanting more. You do this through characterization, plotting, all the writing techniques that make readers want to read your books in the first place (it is my personal opinion that this is why it is important all of your 'episodes' concern the same protagonist - the reader is already invested in him). The readers like your writing, and they know that there are more short stories out there. Even though the protagonist seems 'wrapped up,' they know there's more to the picture, more to the main premise, and they want to read it.

As for examples, I do not know of any. I would refer to Dale Emery's reply.

Disclaimer: Remember, I have never published anything of this nature, and speak only as a writer.


Though I have not read them, I know of examples of a similar episodic series structure: Most of the books written by Self-Publishing Podcast" hosts Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant.

These guys write novellas that they call "episodes." They even write the first episode as a "pilot." As they finish each episode, they release it as a short stand-alone book.

As they write, they structure the episodes into six- or nine-episode "seasons," complete with big season-ending cliffhangers. Then they release each season as a set.

Some of their readers read each episode as it is released. Others wait for the packaged seasons.

Another example (kind of) is Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. The early Foundation stories were written as novellas, and later packaged as novels.

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