Dickens, we remind ourselves, published all his novels
serially. Nine of them appeared in separate monthly parts or
"numbers" (PP, NN, MC, D&S, DC, BH, LD, OMF, and MED). The method
suited him, was popular, and had effects on his writing that have
The Business Section of Saturday's _N.Y. Times_ (11/11)
carries an article on Stephen King's decision to publish his next
novel in monthly installments. It will appear as a series of
paperback books, each costing $2.99, beginning next March. How many
installments are planned to complete the novel is not stated. Its
title is _The Green Mile_, and it is set in a Southern state
penitentiary in 1932.
King says, "People can't peek ahead. They can't cheat.
They can't know what's going to happen." He's right of course.
He may be annoyed by people's skipping to the end.
But we wonder what King himself will know about the forthcoming
parts. Will he have finished the novel before publication begins--as
was Trollope's wont--or will he risk starting to publish before
he knows how his novel will quite work out?
As years went on Dickens planned ahead but only to a modest
degree. The risks he took were breathtaking. "He never wrote more
than for or five numbers before the first was published," Butt and
Tillotson tell us, "and by the middle of the novel he was rarely more
than one number ahead of his readers."