Lower-action serials?

2 years ago | theredsheep (Member)

Most serials on here, that I've seen, seem to fall into action-dominated genres: xianxian, litrpg, superhero, some space opera, etc. This means that every update there's something dynamic happening--chases, fights, disasters, battles, whatever. Lots of excitement to read, and I've enjoyed several already.

My serial (it's next on the submission queue) has about 20K words posted, twice that much written. Of the nine updates up so far, only three contain any kind of "action" (in the sense above), and only one of those is really dominated by the action. There are extended action sequences later on, including three updates in a row due to post in about a month--but it's mostly a fantasy drama punctuated by fight sequences. Is this compatible with the serial format? Don't get me wrong, I keep the story persistently moving forward, but often that's in the sense of making a difficult decision or persuading someone, and there's a lot of gradual revelation of the world and how the hero fits into it. Is there an audience for this, and is it possible to sustain interest with this material when there's only one update per week?

(yes, lots of this is tied up into the usual authorial self-doubt, which I'll spare you)

Read responses...


  1. Dary (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Don't worry too much about it: these things come and go in phases. Back the the Nineties, soap operas were the dominant force. Then there was a long period of supernatural drama and romance until superheroes rose up in the New Tens, followed by LitRPG et al.

    Just write the best serial you can.

  2. Rhodeworks (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Dary has a point. Better to write something you want to write than to try and write something to market. Of course, if you think you can write to market, that's a good option, too.

    There're a few serials around that are lower than the average on the action scale. Action scenes are a web serial audience meme. They don't like them as much as they think they do. Not All Heroes is, IMO, quite low on action quotient compared to other superhero serials. Into The Mire is pretty low on action scenes. Both get quite high on TWF's overall listings.

    However, I definitely advise at least two updates a week. I started with one update a week and my readership jumped much higher as soon as I started doing two. If your story is a bit of a slower burn, like NAH and ITM, multiple updates a week probably help the audience with thinking like things are moving forwards.

  3. Thedude3445 (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Non-action serials and web novels work just fine; the recent deluge on WFG of these types of stories comes mostly from the fact that RoyalRoad's writers have been actively trying to take advantage of the site (to get onto TopWebFiction) and that's pretty much all they write. The bulk of older stories you can find on here, maybe 2010, 2011, aren't action-filled at all (though they still seem to largely fall into sci-fi/fantasy).

    We need more representation in web fiction genres! Romances, straight-up comedies, horror, westerns, detective/noir, slice-of-life, short story collections, experimental metafiction, middle grades kids' fiction, stories about elderly people... We need more of all of it, and never let the "popular" genres discourage you from branching out. Writing in an untapped genre is possibly a really good tactic for getting yourself noticed.

    Sorry boss, but there's only two men I trust. One of them's me. The other's not you.
  4. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    I did fine with a low-action superhero serial. I think it had even less true 'action' scenes than what you describe about your serial. If you think about it, Worm (WFG's biggest success story) wasn't centered on action either, considering the total word count. Many of its chapters / updates are just about the characters, without any combat happening.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  5. theredsheep (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback, all! I don't think two updates per week is in the cards, RW; I'm barely finishing one a week to maintain my backlog on my current schedule.

  6. LadyAnder (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Don't feel obligated updating twice a week. I only did once a week as if I did twice, I would've gotten very quickly though content of the web-novel I posted. I only did twice a week on special occasions. And it was low action fantasy slice-of-life. Not super-hero or anything that's currently popular. In my mind, I did okay. I mean, I rather read low action things.

    Next novel I'm working on, once again, is low action fantasy and I'm still going to probably be posting once a week.

    A cross-genre slice=of-life, some adventure fluff fantasy stories about elves--> https://brotherhoodarchive.com
  7. theredsheep (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    While I'm at it, this is also a "man, this world is complicated" sort of serial. Would it be more of a service or a nuisance to have the "glossary" link appear in a new tab by default?

  8. Snuggle Squiggle (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Yeah, there's definitely audience for it. My serial's lower action fantasy too, and there's been interest among the WFG regulars. Granted, writers are pretty over-represented in the active community here and that skews things, but I think you'll do fine.

    And I don't think you need to do anything special with your glossary link. I don't. I'm sure most users know how to middle click or equivalent. I personally tend to find those sorts of links annoying, since if I'm left clicking instead of middle clicking, it's because I want it to open in this tab.

    I write Endless Stars! It's a serial about dragons and friendship.
  9. IratuSuzanno (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Action is good if creative, but it's the character drama that really draws and hooks people.

  10. BGHilton (Member)

    Posted 2 years ago

    Just from my own experience, I enjoy high-action serials if I read each episode as they come out, but they're exhausting to read all at once. This is, I think, a key problem with serials. Because there are two possible speeds with which people read them, it's very difficult to get the pacing right.

    As to the other issue, a friend of mine used to work for a literary agent. He said that one of the most rejected sorts of submissions he got was Romance manuscripts from people who don't read or like Romance novels. He'd get these cover letters saying 'I'm a *real* writer and everyone knows Romance is trash, but I wrote this for quick money it's as good as any of the garbage on the Romance rack.' And the MS would inevitably be something that no Romance reader would be remotely interested in. Bottom line is, if you're writing something you don't like -- or at least respect -- then you're not going to impress anyone.


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