How polished before you post?


I'm hoping to start posting my webnovel soon. I have the majority of it in first draft, revising the beginning now, but I'm curious as to how polished you get before you post? Do you polish like you would in traditional submitting? Or, is a part of this the interaction/ideas/ errors pointed out by readers?

I know some write as they post-I feel I need to have it all completed before I do this, but not sure how "perfected" I should get? (I'm not referring to spell-checking/basic grammar polishing-that is a given)


Personally, I feel like when I post it, it's set in stone. I think writing is a lot like a magic trick, and I don't like being the magician that gives away how to perform all my tricks, so I publish a final draft that's as polished as I can make it. That's not to say that I don't go back and correct any typos I miss. I do.

My first web novel had lots of typos. Now that I've got a bit of a following, it isn't hard to find people who will volunteer to beta read the story for me and help me fix it up before I start posting it.

Your mileage will vary, though. The cool thing about web fiction is that there is no one true way to do it. It's wide open. Do it however you'd like. It sounds to me like you might just be feeling anxious about taking a big step--actually putting your work out there. It's normal. Don't worry. I don't know how many books you've written and revised, but I can tell you that I didn't start feeling actually good about my final drafts until I'd finished my 11th book. Now, I've got a pretty good idea about where I want to get a book before I let people see it (and trust me, there are books I've written that no one will EVER see, because they are HORRIBLE). It's a kind of thing you just get a feel for, I think, the longer you write.

I'm sure some others can explain to you what they enjoy about the process of putting up a work in progress.

Thank you vj for sharing your process. I am anxious about this. Still not 100% sure I should even do this! LOL The story I have for this is my second novel length story. And, I can see already how different this second one is compared to the first one (which I'm still revising).

But, I really like the idea of interacting with readers, of getting that feedback and of just the whole experience.

I write and then post immediately. What you see on the site is first draft. I have yet to go back and make any major corrections (except for one chapter in my very first work, in which I wrote it in the wrong person). Otherwise, I correct typos as they are pointed out or as I catch them (I usually re-read the previous chapter prior to writing the new one, and sometimes I catch typos then).

For me it depends on the project... but for the most part, I write each episode when it's due. That doesn't mean I don't outline or consider where the story's going in advance--there are scenes and turning points I've known about since starting the latest project--but the actual writing is done the day of posting, most days.

When I package the whole thing for sale as e-book/physical copy I do an editing pass, but I write pretty clean copy by now.

This is my process for web fiction, though. I treat writing intended for other venues differently, which is part of the pleasure of doing them all.

Wow, very interesting to see how you each do this. At this point, I'm not sure I could post off the cuff, but I can see how this works differently for each writer.

Hats off to those of you who can write well on your first draft and off the cuff!!

I wrote my first 'arc' by the seat of my pants. With the second arc that I'm writing, I've picked up an editor. I don't generally make spelling errors or grammatical errors, but there are some sentences/phrases that may jar the readers. My editor is from England, while I'm in the United States, and since I have as many European readers as I do North American readers, he really helps point out some of the stuff that NAers might understand, but Europeans wouldn't.

I don't write a clean copy the first time around by any means, so I try to make each chapter as perfect as can be before I publish it, because to me, this is art, and I'm presenting it in a way that wouldn't be as great if it wasn't as perfect as I could make it.

However, nothing can ever be -perfect-, and I'm sure in a year from now I'll look back on arc 2 and think it's in serious need of a re-edit.

Likewise, I know many very talented authors that use web fiction as sort of a 'first-draft', where they publish works for reader response/critique, and use what they're given for a solid version later on down the road.

Ultimately, it's really what you're intending to get out of it.

I *intend* to get a mega following with HUGE donations and a three book contact. How's that?? heehee

Each episode of KAT AND MOUSE is essentially the final piece. I'm writing each episode at least two months ahead of time so I've got roughly 8 weeks to write, edit, and polish.

i write over a few days, generally, and then edit the next day after I finish the post. Then post it.

This is all interesting to me. The two writers I'm working with and I haven't really set anything in stone about polishing. We have definitely gone back and made some small and large revisions after posting. But now this topic is extremely important to us: We're just about to put up the last post of what we kinda refer to as Season One and will not post again until first day of spring. So for the winter season, we plan to go back and polish everything first so that Season One is a wrap and then we plan to spend a good amount of lead time outlining, writing and revising posts for the next season.

One weird thing I experience is that I might work and polish a piece to what I thought was a diamond but the moment I make it live on the website and read it, I see it through a new set of eyes (imagining other readers' viewpoints, I guess) and I always see needs for revision in that instant.

I like working with a nice fat buffer and plenty of time to edit over my posts before they go up. However, life being what it is, and suffering in the battle with the procrastination beast, I often end up writing and posting in just a few days. Poot.

However, I always do an edit pass, two if I can find the time. I don't tend to make huge changes - mostly typos and some phrase-swapping for readability.

The plan is to do a more thorough edit once I have a whole book to play with. And then... do something with it. So I guess what's up there is second draft, but by no means the final draft.

I would suggest you do what makes you comfortable. Just don't let the editor in you gobble up your work so much that it never lets it out. ;)

So, beyond the editing you do on a single post, do you know the whole story before you begin putting it online post by post? I think by what I'm reading here, some of you write the story by the seat of your pants as you post.(I commend you!)

The story I'll be putting up just changed on me--I'm going to add in the villain's POV (had not intended on doing that until now) I feel I need the entire story written before I start posting. Which has me anxious, as I'd like to get going with this, but feel it needs to be complete and I need to know where I'm going.

Ans, that can have drawbacks too, I suppose. That constant tinkering can be a means of either procrastination or of never feeling it's complete enough. (Like you said Kess )


So, beyond the editing you do on a single post, do you know the whole story before you begin putting it online post by post? I think by what I'm reading here, some of you write the story by the seat of your pants as you post.(I commend you!)

As I mentioned, each episode of KAT AND MOUSE is a complete, finished story. Beginning, middle, and end, with story elements that play out over a longer story arc.

What gets posted each week is an installment out of that completed story.

So the episode I'm working on now won't post its first installment until late March. I expect to have it complete and ready to go by then.

So to clarify--for me, I write complete stories at least two months out from their scheduled posting date. Then they are broken down into weekly installments and those get posted, one installment per week.

For me, it was the feedback from my readers that gave me motivation to keep the story going, or else I wouldn't have ever finished it. lol For my first arc before I got smart (and organized) about things, I was writing episode by episode, and I did so because it locked me down into being obligated to continue writing it.

Now I have the motivation to write lengths before posting the episodes because i have people anticipating it. I guess *their* interest in the story kept me interested in it.

But it's whatever you want to do. If you feel like you need the story written before posting it, then do what makes you feel comfortable. There is no rule book to writing web fiction. I sometimes wish I -had- written the whole thing beforehand so I didn't have such a hard time getting the pieces in order for the second arc when the time came around.

I guess why I have to have the whole thing finished and edited before I post has more to do with plot and story than errors. I outline, but the story always gets away from me, and I always end up going off the outline somewhere in the middle of the thing. By the time I get to the end, I've always got two or three things that need to be set up better at the beginning. For instance, in the story I'm editing right now, I realized that one of the characters was the key to vanquishing the big evil, and I needed to go back and hint at his amazing power in the first few chapters. If I'd posted as I went, I wouldn't have been able to do that. The ending would have felt like it came out of nowhere, or else I would have had to use a different ending, and that would have been sad.

I totally understand pantsers. I've drafted that way myself several times. But I couldn't be a pantser if I didn't get the chance to revise.

How do you guys deal with that kind of stuff?

I agree, VJ-- I'm a panster in as much as it's my discovery draft-it's my notes/outline. Then I can go back and put it together, making the changes I need.

One good thing about wanting to post it as webfiction--it keeps me from walking away for any length of time, knowing it can't go up until it's finished!

I usually write several episodes ahead of time, and then I have my editor look at them a week before they go up.

I make a general outline of the story previous to writing anything, usually months before it happens, just to make sure the direction and the main elements are concrete and not tentative. Without an outline I wouldn't be a pantser either because my story deals with a lot of mysterious elements which show up a bit at a time. I have to make sure I remember certain things that may have happened in a previous arc, sometimes all the way down to the exact time it occurred.

Kudos for having the natural drive to just write an entire novel without any outside influences. If only I could be so self-motivating. lol

As polished as possible. "Rowena" started out as a series of non-chronological short stories involving the same characters, but then I found myself with a plot. I know where it's going now, but compared to my usual method--my usual sort of outlining--I'm semi-winging it. Nothing gets changed--if I seem about to run into a conflict with something I wrote previously, I just have to find a new way around it. This can require a little extra creativity.

But I would never, ever post a first draft. The stories/chapters don't go up until I'm as satisfied as I'm going to get . . . however many drafts that takes.


I have to go with as a polished as possible too. I write a story, and then put it away to cool for a few weeks before I do a second revision, and then later on a third. Usually, I'll hold off on anything else until I'm ready to post, at which point I'll do a final edit on each chapter before I post it. So in most cases, readers are seeing the fourth draft.