Rather than simply changing the method of delivering stories to readers, Stackpole believes digital formats will change the nature of the stories themselves. At the very least, authors should tailor their work to these new mediums. He cited what he referred to as "the commuter market," people who read two chapters per day on their half hour train ride to work. It's an ideal market for fiction broken into 2,500 word chapters, and could presage a resurgence of serial fiction. "It's kind of like a return to the Penny Dreadfuls," he said. "But the readers today are more sophisticated, so we as writers need to put more work into it."The Best Way To Break Into Science Fiction Writing Is Online Publishing
It was interesting to hear the formulaic way Stackpole approaches writing. He described how the method of writing old pulp stories could easily be adapted for modern audiences by eliminating certain ubiquitous but unecessary subplots and adding a bit of character development. A serial detective story should be, "70 percent case, 30 percent soap opera," with a little more soap in a later story to satisfy readers interested in a character's developing personal life.
Even amidst all this embracing of change, Stackpole reassured his audience that digital formats were not sounding the death knell for paper books. "Cars did not kill off horses. Digital publishing will not kill off books. It _will_ change the way they are written and retailed."
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.