Serial Publication

Especially during the nineteenth century, many novels appeared first in periodicals, a few chapters at a time. Readers could often collect all the separate parts and have them bound later, or could wait for the publication of the complete work in book form.

Since authors could publish early chapters before later chapters were written, serial publication could sometimes lead to meandering, picaresque plots. Dickens, perhaps the author most famous for serial publication, would sometimes let audience reaction determine how he completed his novels: The Pickwick Papers, for instance, introduced a character called Sam Weller in the early chapters, who became so popular that Dickens made him a central character later in the book.

From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
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Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
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