I think it’s about time I made a summary of everything we’ve learnt about web fiction, at Novelr, for the past four years or so. This post contains all of Novelr’s work. Much of it is directed to the web fiction newbie, intended to bring new writers up-to-speed with all we know about writing and publishing in the form.
Some of these articles are four years old, and sometimes you’ll see a badly articulated idea refined through multiple posts. Looking back on it, I find some of my attempts rather pathetic, and also kind of cool – we’ve certainly come a long way since those early days of experimenting around the blog format.
I hope you find these posts to be of some use.
Why Write Web Fiction?
- (Guest post): To reinvent the novel
- (Guest post): There’s no editing, and that’s a good thing.
- (Guest post): Before you begin writing online fiction!
Web Fiction – The Format
This section contains ideas and observations on the web fiction form.
- Why Web Fiction Discourages Comment-Based Criticism
- Exploring Personality Bias (Why writer personality affects a reading experience)
- Writing as Performance Art (Livewriting web fiction)
- Ebooks vs Web fiction (How ebooks are winning in 2010)
- The Form and Function of Penguin’s We Tell Stories (interesting ideas from the 2008 writing experiment)
- Who Serves The Mobile Web? (on the shift to mobile ebooks)
- The Golden Notebook and Group Reading (ideas from if:book’s 2008 social reading/publishing experiment)
- Why you will never read fiction, online (based on a Cory Doctorow essay, really old!)
- Why writing long chapters are perfectly fine (a.k.a why the Doctorow essay was wrong)
Designing for Web Fiction
Designing your web fiction site is probably going to be one of the most important things you do, second to the actual writing. Conclusions: the back button is your enemy. Do everything to convert the browser to a reader. Set a tone through design.
- A Format For Online Fiction
- A Format For Online Fiction (Part 2)
- How to Design For Readers
- Picture Book Theory (a.k.a why design is so incredibly important for a reading experience!)
- Design: Improving Readability Without Lifting A Pencil (Part 1)
- Design: Improving Readability Without Lifting A Pencil (Part 2)
Writing Web Fiction
Some thoughts not included below: 1) some people recommend keeping a buffer of one or two chapters while publishing. 2) Talk to your readers while writing. 3) Find a posting schedule and chapter length that is best for your story.
- No Time? Don’t Even Try (aka: web fiction takes a regular schedule. Stick to it)
- Simple Rules for Writing Fulfilling Web Fiction
- Where does your web fiction go after you die? (Suggestion: print it out and save it for your children)
- (Guest post) Fictional character blogs can be bad – here’s why
- (Guest post) Beginning, Middle and End
Talking to Readers
If you want a fulfilling web fiction experience, talk to your readers. Respond to any and all comments. Be nice.
- How to Build Community Around Your Fiction
- On Getting Comments in Web Fiction (reasons as to why you have a reader:comment ratio)
- Internet criticism: the good, the bad, the ugly (when readers criticize via comments)
- How Readers Can Help Write A Book (Really old post!)
This is a fairly new category – posts dealing with a problem that I’m not sure how to solve, even today. I’ve moved most of my work in this area to Pandamian, but it’s worth looking at, just to see what ground’s been covered.
- What We Can Do About Self Promotion
- (Guest post): Why A Reviewer Class is Important for Online Fiction
- Why Do You Read Online Fiction (figuring out what makes our field attractive)
- A Series of Unflattering Questions (a First-Look at a bad writer-reader ratio)
- Floods and Streams – Where Traffic Comes From (Really old post!)
Web Fiction Community
How to get around the web fiction community. (Note: most writers call this weblit too!)
- (Guest post): A Very Basic Introduction to Twitter for #Webfiction
- (Guest post): Please Don’t Pay Me: Dispatches From A Digital Publishing House
- How Reviewers are Important to the Web Fiction Community
- Why Collectives Need Focus (Dan Halloway on why manifestos are important when writers band together to form a collective)
- Do you support the F-word?
- Blooking needs a community (back in the day when I called it ‘blooking'; this post led to efforts that later created the current web fiction community)
- (Guest post): Four rules for community (historically interesting, but probably not relevant to today’s web fiction community)
- Blooking has a community (the work for Web Fiction Guide started here)
Making Money with Web Fiction
- (Guest post): Making Money from Online Fiction: I’ve Done It, So Can You (MCM on his Novel+ model)
- What If It’s Impossible to Make Money from Web Fiction?
- Why Pay-Per-Chapter Sucks
- Lessons from The Variant (How Previews Can Work in Selling Online Fiction)
- Accept Piracy as a Given
- Why Free Isn’t Really Free (Is sharing an already free ebook considered piracy? Is this good for you, as an author?)
- Software, the Internet, and the One Man Show (What small software shops can teach us about making money from web fiction)
- What Authors Can Learn from Radiohead
- 1000 True Fans – Making Money Off Your Fiction
- Rethinking 1000 True Fans (or: why it may not work)
Thoughts on the Publishing Industry
These posts are all fairly recent (2010), and tied to the start of my work at Pandamian.
- Surprising Truths From Richard Nash’s Publishing Talk
- (Guest post): Paper Houses (Why self-publishing is not credible)
- To Change Publishing, Make Publishers Obsolete (Logical conclusions from Paper Houses)
- The Publishing Support Layer (early thoughts on Pandamian)
- Why Editors Are Important for the Bookfuture
- What the iPad Means For Digital Fiction
- How to Prepare for a Digital Shift
- Merry Christmas, Publishers (first signs of a publishing shift to digital fiction, circa 2008)
- Digital Publishing’s About To Explode, Will You Be Sidelined?
Learning To Write
Most of these posts were from Novelr’s early days, when I was still writing fiction (and figuring things out for myself). I’m including this here only because a couple of writers have found them to be useful in the past.
- Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing Fiction
- Vonnegut on How To Write With Style
- How to Write Long Sentences
- Purple prose: not a problem
- Why Adverbs Suck
- A reason to write badly: the watcher at the gate
- Are First Lines That Important?
- Don’t describe your characters
Random (usually funny!) rants about bookish things
- A Book Buyer Complains About Books-to-Movies
- Good writers, bad storytellers
- Genius Literary Criticism
- Top 10 Ways to Write an Anticlimax
- In which I extol the smell of books
Filtering Web Fiction
The posts in this category contain a series of ideas developed over the period of a year. They led to the creation of Web Fiction Guide, amongst other things. Probably not very useful now, but they may be of some historical interest.