Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Long and Short of It

by Bethany Maines

I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was first on television. It was the first time I'd watched a show that combined the episodic weekly tale with a long-form, season long story arc. Whether or not you enjoy fantasy and teenagers killing things, the inclusion of a "big bad" (Buffy slang for the seasons main villain) made Buffy a tremendous innovator on TV.  

It was an innovation that impressed, and continues to impress, me. The ability of the writers to maintain the critical pacing of the weeks mystery, while at the same time building a seasonal arc that culminates at the right point is a difficult writing feat. Most stories require that a character to fulfill a certain role to advance the story. But with multiple stories playing out at the same time the characters actions must serve several different purposes at once. Accomplishing these goals at all, let alone well, is something I aspire to. And while I have experimented with this type of writing before in my Tales from the City of Destiny, I have never tried to do a true over-arcing long form story across multiple novels. That is until now.

Starting last December, I have gone headlong into plotting and writing a new five book crime series. I'll be excited when I can finally share more details about the series. But until then, I'm asking for inspiration to help keep my creative juices flowing. What TV shows do you love that combine short and long form elements and crime or action?


Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Wild Waters, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Loved Buffy myself, but I'll point out that Beauty and the Beast way back in the 80s really pioneered this season-long arc form that was later picked up and refined by Joss Whedon. It's not surprising when you realize that George RR Martin (known now for Game of Thrones) was the originator and showrunner for B&B and wrote much of it.

    1. I had forgotten about Beauty & the Beast! I didn't realize that Martin wrote for it though. I might have to see if it's on Netflix.

    2. It was on Netflix for about a year, but they took it off a couple of months ago. :-(

  2. I believe House of Cards would qualify. It's a favorite of mine.