Episodic content is good. It grabs people across a much wider demographic than other forms of storytelling generally do – a lot of people don’t have the time to read an 800-page epic. But you still want them to consume your content on a grand scale. You don’t want them to read a single piece of flash fiction and move on to someone else, because, well, who remembers flashfic authors?
So create in episodic format. TV shows stick with people, make them into large-scale consumers of an opus in a way that they can fit into their lives. I would even argue that timed episodic fiction stretches the content into a thing that soaks much deeper, gets at the fore of folks. I experienced that myself with Lost, the only TV show that I’ve spent seasons caring about (please don’t ask me about it now, however. I said don’t). More forms of media have followed suit. Video games in smaller-sized chunks are a big thing now. Alan Wake structured its first, full length game into a collection of six quasi-episodes, like a TV series. The form allowed them to release two additional episodes that continued the story in a completely organic way. Their second game is a single, content-heavy episode over Xbox Live Arcade, also a successful work. Episodic content is a natural for many, many people thanks to television.
In print fiction it’s a less desirable objective due mainly, I’m going to go out on a limb and opine, because of the relatively intensive process of distribution. Magazines are the sole regular print format for episodic storytelling simply because they’re already set up for frequent distribution. So what’s the point? Electronic books, that’s what’s the point.
E-readers allow access to creative works with none of the distribution issues of print. The key takeaway is that some of the necessary evils of print fiction, such as investing in a huge undertaking to finish a novel before it sees the light of day, and the resultant level of dedication it takes for the reader to consume the whole novel to get at its third act and (hopefully) payoff, are effectively overcome by e-distribution on e-readers. If writers are smart, therefore, they (or we) should be taking advantage of this by offering fiction in happily bite-sized chunks, building loyalty over time and making people happier, faster, by accelerating the payoff(s) in more manageable chunks. This also allows writers to capture interest in a work earlier on, and hopefully have a greater incentive to carry it on to a long-term conclusion. Win-badda-boom-win.