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"The idea of stories being told in serial form dates back to the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), which consisted of a series of serialized stories, or "serialized novels" or novellas. Its frame story is about Sheherazade telling stories to King Shahriyar, and she needs to keep him interested in each of the stories, in order to prevent him from executing her the next morning. She often tells the stories in a series, beginning each story with a narrative hook, leaving off with a cliffhanger, and continuing the story the next night. This leaves the King in suspense, waiting until the next night to hear what will happen next. Many of her tales often stretch over many nights or episodes. " --Sholem Stein

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Serial is a term, originating in literature, for a format by which a story is told in contiguous installments in sequential issues of a single periodical publication. More generally, "serial" is applied in library and information science to materials "in any medium issued under the same title in a succession of discrete parts, usually numbered (or dated) and appearing at regular or irregular intervals with no predetermined conclusion." By extension, "serial" also came to apply to a film issued in the same installment manner over a period of sequential weeks at a single movie house.

In recent times, the term has been used for a radio or television production with a continuously evolving, unified plot and set of characters, spread over multiple episodes and sometimes years (see, e.g., "soap opera"). Unity of plot and contiguity across numerous episodes distinguishes a radio or television serial from a radio or television series. In British television, "serial" is also synonymous with the American term "miniseries" — a short-run series in which a single overarching story is told across several episodes and concludes in the final installment.

Art and literature

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Serial" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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