New writer - Introduction & some questions

3 years ago | Azoth (Member)

Hi!

I'm looking into starting up my own web serial over the next few months (going to write out the first few arcs before I submit and start uploading), and I wanted to introduce myself!

My name is Caleb. I love reading, and I go through books like candy. Because of this, web serials are of particular interest – they’re free, there’s longevity to them, and there’s an active community built around them.

I've always loved writing essays and letters and long forum posts and the like, but I’m new to the art of storytelling – this is why I've decided to try and introduce myself to the fold, to learn, improve, and grow as both a writer and a storyteller. Kyler is my pen name, inspired by Brent Week’s Night Angel trilogy – fantastic read if you haven’t read it.

Here are the questions I have:

1) How many words should I strive for, on average per chapter, to hold an audience? Right now I'm pushing out about 1000 words per chapter. I'm making it a personal rule (shamelessly stolen from Agreyworld)that every chapter will move the plot along in some way.

2) Is one scheduled post per week enough? Most web serials I read post bi-weekly, and I plan to transition to bi-weekly in the future - as is, however, it's taking me too long to produce a quality chapter given my current writing speed and work schedule.

3) How can I improve this description? I'm hesitant to put in more about the story without revealing certain aspects of the story.

My story is placed in a futuristic earth, where nanotechnology is run of the mill. Rhea discovers that her friend Jasper is a victim of forced nanomutation by the world's top nanotechnology company, resulting in him being able to create fire. Rhea helps him discover that he can use his powers to do things in the world, to make change and fight for what he believes in. The results are catastrophic.

Thanks for the help!
- Kyler

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Responses

  1. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Did I say that? I don't remember saying that!

    My target length was 1300 words, bi-weekly. (I may change to weekly when I start up again).

    What I recommend, as I did in the beginning, is to start up your WordPress page and everything, get the story going. Don't bother building up too much of a buffer in the start.

    Don't set yourself a schedule, post when you feel ready. You wont have an audience, it takes weeks to even get the story listed on WFG. You're throwing your first chapters into a void for the first few months. It gives you a playground to experiment with posting frequency and length, to settle into a rhythm and pattern. As soon as you get your WFG listing and readers start their trickle in - fix it at what felt comfortable. You don't want to just set an arbitrary level to post things if that's not your natural working speed.

    RE: Description. I find the story descriptions tough. I would say, you gotta make it catchy. Don't treat it as a description. It's not an answer to "What's your story about then?" Think of it more of a movie trailer? Snappy, fun, catching.

    Take a look at some other random ones on here, and book blurbs. I picked out this one off the front page http://webfictionguide.com/listings/the-cold-inside/

    Starts with: “What if you could do anything you wanted?”

    That engages people.

    "Sixteen year-old Tristam Bloom is having the worst year of his life. "

    Introduces the character, but in a way that gets us starting to ask questions. etc etc

    Taking a look at yours:

    "My story is placed in a futuristic earth, where nanotechnology is run of the mill."

    Introducing it as a story breaks the link with the reader to the characters. Cut that out! Experiment a lot with it and just throw things down. Is the story in first person? Make the description in first person. Get some conflict in there, is there /going to be a driving conflict throughout the whole serial? Hint at that.

    Phrase things in an interesting way. Instead of "Set in the future after the apocolpyse," you want "An age after civilisation fell..." stuff like that.

    "Rhea helps him discover that he can use his powers to do things in the world." Bland bland bland!

    What 'things'? Expand on that? Introduce some humor: "Turns out, having the ability to explode a planet wasn't a skill in much demand."

    Just think movie trailer!

    Hope it goes well for you. Starting my serial was a lot of fun, good luck :)

  2. Azoth (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    It was either you or Tieshaunn, admittedly I can't remember which. My mistake if I credited the wrong person!

    Great advice on all points. Loving the "serial trailer" concept - it'll make the description much more interesting!

    Thanks. :) I'm enjoying it very much so far - there's an adventure element to serial writing that isn't there as much for novels and short stories.

    I'm excited about the whole process really. Thanks again for the solid advice!

  3. Tempest (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Ties does have that rule, if I recall correctly. I think he mentioned it when we called the relevance of the interludes into question. So every chapter is part of the main story even if it doesn't seem like it at first glance

  4. Azoth (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I stand corrected! My apologies to the both of you.

    The Wordpress page is up, along with the first two posts in the story. Any feedback is appreciated. :)

    http://kylerweb.wordpress.com/

  5. Tempest (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Its private. Had to request access.

  6. Ace (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I wouldn't worry too much about building up an audience in the beginning. It takes awhile to build up an audience. They'll come, sooner or later, when the content's good and if you network properly.

    Longer chapters would probably be better for keeping an audience's attention but I think it's more important to start off at a word count you can maintain. You'll eventually be able to write more at a faster rate as you get more experience. I started without a backlog and each of my chapters were around 1000-1900, but I recently managed to create a backlog with the recent chapters being 2000-2700.

    http://interactivedecisiontheory.wordpress.com/ - Knave, Superpowered Webserial
  7. Azoth (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Fixed the privacy settings.

    And Ace- Yeah, agreed. As I get faster at this I'll definitely strive to improve length. Thanks!

  8. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Hello Caleb!

    I'm by no means an expert and probably also have no idea what I'm talking about, but I've been publishing Caelum Lex for a year and a half now so for what it's worth, here's my two cents.

    1. Personally I don't think word count is that big of a deal. It's the content that matters, not how many words they have. As someone who hardly has any freetime whatsoever, I'm actually more likely to read things that are shorter simply because I don't have the time to commit and I can invest only a small amount each week. But on the contrary to that, I'm a total word vomiter (as you will see in this very post) and CL chapters average at 3000-4000, even upwards of 5000 if my co-author gives me too much free reign. And people read it I guess so there are definitely opposing viewpoints. So in the end, I don't think it matters. If you want to write a lot, write a lot, if you want to write less, write less. You're going to lose some audience attention on either end of that spectrum, so I advise not to focus on that. Focus on great characters, great stories, great worlds and if some chapters are 5000 words and some are 500, it wno't matter. That'll keep people coming back more than anything else.

    Also, making sure every chapter moves the plot along, that's good advice (wherever you got it from haha). I forget who said it, but there's that saying about how every word in a story has to either advance the plot or develop character. Easier said than done, but it's always good to keep in mind.

    2. Same advice. Quality over quantity. If it takes you a week to produce something good, take a week. Don't rush it. However, once you've found your schedule, stick to it. Nothing like sporadic updates to lose audience.

    3. I'm terrible at descriptions, but AGreyWorld's summation of it sounds good to me. Go with that. Movie trailer, definitely. 'In a world--" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjWKE-IJ4R8

  9. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Here's a couple things. Haven't read your story so not sure if some of these help.

    For your weekly word count, 1000 is a pretty good place to start while you get the feel of things. They've mentioned sticking to a schedule and that should help you figure out what it's like for you and where your limits are at.

    You're not going to have much of an audience at first, those Web Fiction Guide will help with that somewhat. It also helps if someone else with a web serial links to yours. I can only speak so much to building an audience, though, as most of mine seems to have come from a fandom I already had.

    Also, the format and POV can make a huge difference. If it's first person, then it can be harder to pull off characterization of other people. You might also have scenarios that confuse people unless your character can somehow know a lot more about whatever situation they are in.

    There's also the matter of if it's a blogfic, or some sort of log, or just a story. Blogfics would be more difficult to have one day across multiple entries, for example, and it messes with an ability to do a cliffhanger as well. Some people prefer stories set as a journal or whatnot. But once again, anything that's supposed to be narrated by person to the audience is going to suffer from interpretation and/or a lack of some knowledge, and this will probably have to be accounted for.

    The point is, it can be helpful to think about the form your story takes.

    So that's a few things I've figured out in all this.

  10. Tempest (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    By the way Kyler, I've given you a link. A few comments on your blog will help you figure out what to do and how to do it.

  11. Azoth (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Thanks, Tempest! From one new author to another, I shall return the favor. :)

    New description as is:

    They say evolution is no longer possible.

    That the human race has stagnated.

    Physicality no longer plays a role in modern survival of the fittest, so what’s left to change?

    Makrotech has developed a revolutionary type of nanotechnology, designed to usher in a new age of humanity. To force the evolution.

    18 year old Rhea and Jasper are their catalysts.

    Stopping crime is easy with nanobot powered fireballs and lasers. Nobody sees it coming.

    But hey, things change. Such is the natural way.

    Adapt or die, right?

    Thoughts?

    Edit: Updated with a few changes.

  12. alex5927 (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I like the new description. It tells a bit about the setting and the plot, but not enough to ruin it.
    As for tips: just listen to what the others say. It helps a lot if you take their advice. And if you need help with something or have a question, ask.

  13. Azoth (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Website mostly finalized, 3rd chapter posted, and submitted to WFG.

    Fingers crossed!

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. :)

    http://kylerweb.wordpress.com/

  14. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    On the word count. There is chapter, and there is update. They don't HAVE to be the same. The big thing to remember is that the serial format is going to influence what you do. you're going to feel like you have to put some kind of cliffhanger or plot mover at the end of every update, don't feel beholden to that! while long occasional posts DO bring more people in, you can still post shorter and more often, pages rather than chapters. maybe combine it all together once you finish a chapter, if you want.

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