Does Web Fiction hold quality?

I posted a new article at my blog ( ) which might have came off as a rant.

I'm going to quote the part of the article that had to do with the web fiction and quality itself, and I'd like to know what everyone here at the web fiction forums come off as.

There were countless errors and it showed unprofessional work.


So, what do you think?

Clearly you've been reading the wrong webfiction.

It's impossible to be error-free in a multi-year project -- they have a habit of creeping in, and sometimes subsequent edits can add more errors rather than subtract them. However, I've always believed in delivering the most polished product I can. It annoys the hell out of me to discover errors in my own work, and I work hard to get rid of them. Especially since, when my editor sends them off to the printers, that's pretty much it. Any remaining gaffes that neither of us have caught are immortalised in paper and ink.

I'd encourage you to try STREET if you haven't already. I'm sure it's not 100% perfect as it stands, but hopefully by the time we're ready to release an omnibus edition of the trilogy, we will have a manuscript that's error-free from cover to cover.



I think you're likely to find a wide variety of quality on the web. Posting online can be easy and free, and there is no editorial gatekeeper to get past, so it's inevitable that some will cut corners. It all comes down to the professionalism of the writer.

Many of the writers that publish online are not professionals, particularly in free fiction. Is it unfair to demand professional standards from someone who considers writing to be a hobby? The truth is that it can be difficult to tell the difference between a hobbyist and someone who takes their writing seriously just by looking at a web site. (Sometimes it's painfully easy to tell, but hopefully you know what I mean.)

Bear in mind also that some writers view the work they post online as a first draft, and therefore it is unlikely to be as thoroughly edited as the finished product. These writers are usually very open about this, though, and even that doesn't mean the quality is low - far from it in some cases.

Personally, I always copy-edit and proof my work carefully before it goes up online. Quality matters to me and I aim for that to be reflected in my writing. I strive to get as close to perfection as is humanly possible. I doubt I'm alone in that, particularly on this forum! I know many writers who have the same kind of ethic.

Feel free to peruse the links in my sig if you want some examples of my work. :) Otherwise, shop around until you find something you like!

I'm going to have to loft a brow at this, specifically because I followed a link from your blog to your story "Andheri the Emnadin", and on the first chapter I found two errors in your work; both of them with dialogue.

However, I will also agree with the two above me, and while we all try to be our absolute best, we are not perfect. And, while quality matters, there are times when we can't see through our own mistakes.

Unless of course by 'errors' you mean blatant spelling errors and the like. If that's the case, it's unfortunate to say that anyone can make a blog and write a story, regardless of whether they understand the basic concepts of the English language. But many of us approach our web fiction with professionalism (despite it being a hobby) and I've read many, many wonderful stories on here.

By errors, I definitely mean not the lack of rewriting, but simple things, like spelling out words correctly, using a spell-checker, and using numbers correctly. For example, the writer firstly says the flashback was from 12 years ago and then later, they say it was 9 years ago. At the minimum, you could edit the number usage from before if you changed it.

And Ryan, I will check yours out.

I do understand what you mean Kess, but I am a hobbyist writer (I can't be considered anything else at my age), but with any other form of things on the internet, I demand excellence if you go into directories and try to get read/watched/listened to. It's probably my own flaw.

What do you suggest for directories that offer quality? I haven't checked out WebFictionGuide's directory (as I am currently bogged down with quite a bit of work), but is it quality?

I apologize for my lack of professionalism here. It's 11:30 PM where I live.

Each member here has a page where you can see what they've reviewed and rated. My suggestion is to find someone whose opinions you respect and look through the stuff they've rated highly. You can find mine at


P.S. You can find the member page for anyone in this forum by clicking on their name at the top of their post.

Echoing other members, my own work--as well as being proofread by myself--is proofread by not one but two copy editors before going up. One of them, my sister, was almost an editor as a profession and let's just say that the other--my husband--can be a bit of a nitpicker and I've had copy come back from him plastered with little blue notes in OpenOffice. X)

The serial that I am currently following--Castle Terribel--reads to a high standard of quality, and I would say it's well within line of "real" books I have read, possibly even in line with some *good* books I have read, including Pratchett. And Castle Terribel is one of the lower rated stories on top web fiction!

I would also say that based on the few webfictionguide serials I have perused briefly, they are generally of a surprisingly high standard. Just like I wouldn't characterize finding a good webcomic as being particularly hard, I wouldn't characterize finding a good web serial as being that hard, either. Especially with Top Web Fiction around...

A couple of things I learned from my writing degree regarding grammar:

a) there are plenty of people who think they know what they're talking about, but actually know bugger all

b) there are just as many who adhere so strictly to rules that they fail to understand stylistic choice

Something else to consider is that not everyone is serialising a completed novel that they've spent months/years polishing. I'm often working right up to deadline and releasing stuff knowing it's not perfect, because I know I'll tidy it up later.

You can always try following the money. There are several serials that earn for their writers, and that would tend to suggest that someone or several someones think the fiction is high enough quality to merit subsidizing.

The higher ranked listings are all quite readable, and probably contain the odd error, but aren't painfully full of them. I haven't read all of them, but the ones I have read are good stories too.

The lower ranked listings range from terrible to wonderful. The wonderful ones haven't been rated by enough members or editors... That happens.

Speaking personally, I know that while I sometimes screw up and make typos, my readers are kind enough to point them out. When I revise for ebook publication, I hope to find and remove them all.

Of course, that's likely overly optimistic as I've found mistakes in work that's been professionally published.

Jim makes a point worth remembering. It's not uncommon for mistakes to pop up in work that's been through the full editing process.

I think the worst gaffe ever to appear in my work is one that remains in the currently printed manuscript of STREET: Clairvoyance, where I completely changed a character's name for one line, as an experiment, and then failed to change it back to the name used everywhere else in the book. Not the kind of thing that shows up in a line edit but highly embarrassing all the same. Given the less flexible nature of print, that error's gonna be in there for a while, even though I've fixed it everywhere else.

Christ, did I feel like a right knob-end when that one was pointed out to me.



The web is an interesting medium in that it can (though does not necessarily) change the way things are done. Standard process for writing is write, rewrite, re-rewrite, edit, edit, edit, send to editor, editor edits, you fix, publish... then find something you missed.

I wrote Pay Me, Bug! about five or six years ago and I revised parts of it twice. I've done at edit at least four or five times, and I'm STILL finding things I've missed. The problem? I'm not a great editor when it comes to my own work (and I'm only average at best when it comes to other people's work).

But not everyone is publishing work like that. Some people are publishing serial fictions that are written "on the fly" (i.e., updating week to week with new material). That cuts out a LOT of the time available for editing and your mileage may vary as a result.

If you expect a certain level of professional veneer in that work you may find those specific works don't appeal to you. Me, I have a higher level of tolerance for rough edges, but I come from a punk background musically, where rough edges are part of the appeal. So again, your mileage may vary.

I can't believe you've had such a hard time! I find more really good work than I have time to read. I have over 60 "blooks" in my favorites folder that I haven't started yet. A lot of them do have one or two errors, spelling or otherwise, but the stories are great.

And to me story is the part that matters. My best friend wrote and published a book, The Growing Darkness. The story is rich and complex, the covers sorta pretty. But it's so full of errors it makes my head hurt. Just being in hard copy does not make a book perfect.

And as Kess already pointed out...a lot of "blooks" are first drafts. Mine is, it's rough, there are errors missed words ect... But I love writing it, and my fans love reading it. And THAT, more than any idea of what is "proper" is what matters.

Its not just webfiction. Theodore sturgeon, ome of the greatest sff / speculative fiction authors ever, once said, about novels, 90 percent of everything is crap. Yes, most of the webfiction sucks. But there are people that won't even notice the errors, and enjoy what they read. Look at :shudder: rebecca black.

That said, there are gems out there. And yea, they are mostly people who spend the time, and who get an editor, either a few fans, or an official editor. I work as fan editor (dedicated fan who is the first to read new posts and suggest changes) for a couple of writers, one of who actually trusted me with admin access to their site to change things for them. And I'm the actual editor for a few people, two of whom are hosted or will soon be hosted by me on my website. And I wish I had a good editor to look over my own work, because it is NOT easy to be your own editor, in the slightest.

So I think you are approaching things from the wrong angle. Stop thinking, "my gawd, this is shit". Start thinking, "well they have good characters, a good plot. I like the story... So... what can I do to HELP them make it better?" Most of the authors out there, point out the flaws. Point out the typos. They will be genuinely grateful. For them, the story is where the quality lies. But the furniture helps.

There is absolutely quality writing on the web. You really need to search though, just as you do with all writing, music, films, etc. Know what sort of thing you like, and look for that. Personally I can't read stories about faeries of vampires, but love magic and sci-fi...

I too get put off easily, when the writing quality is so bad you can't enjoy the story, but I have found some amazing stories online - Starwalker, Lord Likely are just two examples.

My own writing is a planned story arc, but I haven't finished the book yet, writing a few chapters ahead of what is online. I like to think I have a high standard when it comes to the technicalities - speeling and grammer etc. But I know I am lacking in story architecture and ideas of POV, Showing vs Telling etc. I am getting better every day though!

More interaction would be a bonus and as Alex says above, if you care about the story it is worth commenting and saying what you think, most writers will appreciate the feedback, we can't get better if we don't know what mistakes we are making!

If you are willing to find, there will be good, or even excellent web fiction. However, while grammar and spelling does affect quality, it is the storytelling itself that should be the main focus.

My initial works suffered from lack of writing experience and fiction reading, which leads to bland scene writing and lots of grammatical errors. However, as a I write more, I improved myself by actually follow what my spellchecker points out the errors of my grammar and spelling plus adding more descriptions to my scenes. Still, I have a lot of things to improve, mainly finding a way to enhance my current writing style, i.e. how to keep readers interested with continuous battle scenes, which usually makes up 80-90% of my works.

Personally I can't read stories about faeries of vampires, but love magic and sci-fi...

You love magic and hate faeries? 6.9 those two things seem... paradoxical, lol. I can see vampires and magic, but...

oh well, to each their own. Personally I cannot imagine hating faeries. But I am a LITTLE OBSESSED WITH FAERIES don't judge. X)

You love magic and hate faeries?

Oh yes they can be exclusive. There is a definite difference between fantasy, fey and witches and wizards. You know I appreciate faeries may exist in their universe, but I like to think of them in a Pratchett context. Some fantasy is a bit too much I guess... Hmmmm.... it's one of those conversations that would go nowhere.

Of course I don't judge, I don't read romances either, but what is a good story without romance?