1. isaac223

    isaac223 Active Member

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    Serialized Anthology of Short Stories - To What Extent is Filler Acceptable?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by isaac223, Jan 11, 2018.

    Currently, I have begun work on a project that bears the placeholder name "The Complete Detective Ezra Hawkins Anthology". My intent is to structure it much like one would expect to find full collections of detective series such as the Complete Hercule Poirot Collection or the Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, however the point is that despite intending for it to seem like a series of disconnected murder mystery stories, I wish to introduce a stronger sense of persistent character, setting and narrative development and serialization.

    However, I'm unsure to what degree I have to adhere to strictly using these mysteries to develop upon the narrative -- it'd be outright uncanny for a sleuth to only encounter crimes and mysteries that personally relate to him or the overarching narrative -- and to what degree filler is acceptable? On one hand, I can't dedicate every story -- or at least, every part of every story -- to the overarching narrative as it'd be uncanny and absurd (and, on a personal level, I'd also like more freedom to toy around with the detective fiction genre). However, on the other, I cannot interject too much filler as it'd totally undermine the point of the "anthology". I suppose my question would be "what is too much?" and "is it possible to balance the two out" and how would I do so?

    Similarly, how would I present information on an overarching narrative and character development that isn't too blatant or on-the-nose, but at the very least notable? How could I work an unrelated subplot/short story into helping developing the series' overarching narrative and serialization?

    And, for anyone who might need context to work with, information on the premise will be posted below:

    Ezra Hawkins, formerly known as Reginald Hyde and newly branded Reginald Lazarus, is the former heir to the Hyde family. Alongside the Suthmeer, Angrove and Averill families, the Hyde family was one of the four houses to have an established rule over one of the four territories of the segmented nation of of Estril. However, once word of the current head of the Hyde house supposedly fraternizing with an international organized crime syndicate reached the ears of the other three, a unanimous ruling resulted in the expulsion of the Hyde family from their position of power; disgraced and shamed, the use of the Hyde name was banished from polite usage. Each family member would be subsequently branded with the “Mark of Judas”, thus revoking their familial bonds and reinstating them into the Lazarus -- “godly help” -- name, hoping that the name would bring upon them the grace of God to return their shame and their pride that was lost when they committed crimes against the nation. However, before his child could be branded, prevented from living his life freely and among other people, Reginald's father took him and fled to a home prepared on the outskirts of the former Hyde-Estril territories, newly named Higharch-Estril to reflect the now-instated ruling Higharch house.

    Ezra Hawkins, growing later in his life into a sleuth, finds an assistant in eccentric and unorthodox noble Alabaster Higharch, the youngest living member of the Higharch family home who met Reginald (at the time known as Ezra Hawkins) at the ceremony celebrating the Higharch house's induction as one of the ruling houses of Estril.
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I'd avoid thinking of it as filler. Give that 'filler' a purpose - if it's not advancing the overarching plot, make it advance characterization or subplot.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Can you clarify what you mean by 'filler'?
     
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  4. MugMugger

    MugMugger New Member

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    If you have an overarching plot that pay off in the "end" it is totally good to have moment that may or may not be linked to the ongoing investigation. Anything else that don't serve a greater plot I would't put in.
     
  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Anthology is not the world you are looking for or want to use here. An anthology is a collection of work by different authors that is compiled by an editor. It seems like you are writing a short story collection with linked short stories (maybe?). It's not an anthology. Also, when you serialize something it usually means that it is published and released in sections. Over a hundred years ago, this format was used by newspapers that would release a new chapter of a book each week. It's not really something you hear about too often. So, I don't think that's what you meant. Which brings us to filler... What do you mean by filler? Because I don't think filler is ever okay. Filler is boring and not adding much if anything to a story. That's not what you want.
     
  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    By “filler” do you maybe mean what I would call, let’s say in the X files, a non-arc story? The X Files arc was all about the aliens, but there were non-arc episodes about vampires and the HOA monster and so on.
     
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  7. isaac223

    isaac223 Active Member

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    By "filler", I suppose I mean subplots not explicitly related to the overarching narrative. The intent of the serialization is to provide persistent humanization, development and growth for sleuth Ezra Hawkins and assistant and noble Alabaster Higharch, to develop an overarching plotline that ties directly into the characters, their motivations and their backstories and to present a clear and distinctive arc for the important characters that ties off their personal and interpersonal stories. So I suppose, by "filler" I mean it would be that anything that doesn't do or doesn't contribute explicitly to this (I.E. a murder/case that doesn't actually have anything to do with our main characters).
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'd say that even if a case isn't about those characters, it would still present those characters with challenges, reveal things about their character, and so on.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    When you describe it, it doesn't sound so much like what comes to mind when people think of filler, but just that you're calling it filler could mean that it's not really what you want in your story. If I had writing I thought of as filler in my novel, that would get cut so quickly.
     

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