Is Longer Better?

I asked a kind of similar question earlier, but this is... slightly different. So, when it comes to writing web serials, do you think a longer story attracts more readers? Or do shorter, more novel-ish in length stories have their place too? Would you be more inclined to check out a serial with 200 chapters that was still updating than one that ended at chapter 40?

Longer stories are going to pull in more people by momentum. But that's predicated on getting the ball rolling in the first place, and if your stories are buried in the annals of WFG you're unlikely to pick up new readers. So, in my opinion, it very much so depends on how well you do at the outset.

Well...personally I would check out the shorter ones. I don't like bloated fiction and...well, serials of all kind are really susceptible to just adding this bit of filler and adding that bit. For a number of reasons.

But I think most people want more of a good thing. I find myself disagreeing with lots of people who absolutely love long, stretched out fantasy series for example. Those do have value and a sizeable audience.

My reason to dislike them is purely personal however. I simply think a short and precise work is better because it can't explore every cranny and detail in a stretched out fashion. Because of those restraints, I think, the author has to think more about what he is actually trying to say. For me that means a preciser language and story.

But then again...lots of popular series are quite long. :)

Hmm... so, if I were to want to attract more readers, I'd focus on finding ways to continue the stories I've already put out rather than keep jumping from one standalone story to another?

Barring the classics, a majority of the superstar books of the 21st century have been part of a series (and I mean superstar in the sense of worldwide popularity and notoriety, not in reference to quality in any manner). I believe that extended projects have more staying power, and are able to attract a more widespread following assuming they were liked in the first place, as compared to one-off projects.

I'm also a firm believer in series "stockholm syndrome". The idea that by the time you get through 9 books, there isn't a lot that will make you quit at the 10th. All the 10th book really has to do is vaguely resemble what you loved about the prior stories, and your commitment the overall plot and concept will carry you through.

I think I'm pulling a bit from both theories: I'm doing an anthology serial. Several novels, often with different main characters who aren't ever likely to meet one another in the course of their stories, all having their own lives in their own corners of the world.

It's cost me a chunk of readership at the end of my first book, but I've made that up and more in the course of my next two books, and now I expect my stories and readers have enough staying power that as long as I keep doing Price books, I'll have the readers available to me. So from here forward, I can do short/medium novels taking place in the setting, without any hold chaining me to previous characters and the absurd impossibility of the same person dealing with constant escalation.

Best of both worlds, far as I'm concerned.

I bounce between novels, audiobooks, serials, and occasional fan fiction. I prefer longer stories that update on a reliable schedule, personally, because it lets me really immerse myself in the universe. I can treat it as, like, a television show with regular episodes. Now, a long story that updates whenever the author feels like it will probably lose my attention (::glares in the direction of The Shadow Chronicles::), and I wouldn't want to commit to a series of novels that has been dangling unfinished for years at a time.

I write an ongoing series, that it split up into distinct novels - so while collectively, we're on chapter 200-something, each book is about 40-ish chapters.

As a reader: I love long series over standalone works - I want to sink into a universe and be able to stay there for a long time.

As a writer: I'm committed to developing this one universe, I want to work hard on the worldbuilding, and make it great for whatever kind of story I want to tell - I have a number of standalone novels planned that will be enhanced by reading the other books in the series (and in turn, will add to those).

As a serial author: regularity is king here - you lose so many readers by having an inconsistent update schedule.

When I started my webfiction site, I was doing short fiction - anything from flash fiction to novellas in length. Some of them were set in the same setting with the same characters. I haven't been able to get any traction with them. It might be that the people just don't read that kind of thing - or it could just be that they are no good.

I have switch to mixing it up between that and an ongoing proper serial, so we will see if that improves things any.

My main problem from a reader standpoint is a lack of time to be reading. In that respect, I'd be more likely to check out one that finished with Chapter 40, because the longer one is too daunting. The flip side of that though is if I AM caught up, I have a pretty good memory for things, and enjoy callbacks to earlier events in a broader universe... so if I'm already reading the one with 200 chapters, I'm liable to continue. (Which I think is why I hesitate to start them... lacking the time to read, I'd simply get frustrated.)

Your best bet if you are going long (as others have alluded to) is having end checkpoints and entry arcs along the way. In particular, I'm not sure how many people have the need to start with "Episode 1", versus jumping in anywhere, which is another factor to consider. (I'm a purist, partly due to the callback thing.)

First of all, I should say that the title of this thread deeply amuses my inner twelve year old boy. Now that I'm done snickering though, I'll attempt to give my thoughts about the question.

Writing a longer serial or series of novels is better in the sense the series has more time to become well known. People who like the kind of thing that you're doing will have more chances to discover it because you haven't stopped. Continuing keeps the series in people's minds.

At the same there are questions you'll want to think about before doing that. One is whether you really want to spend so long with a particular character or world. If a character's story is finished, you don't want to drag it out longer than it's interesting. So, no, I wouldn't say that you should focus on continuing stories rather than doing standalones. If the stories don't need to be continued, they'll be boring.

That said, if you start a story that naturally lends itself to a long term storyline, it can be worth doing a long running serial. Also, if you've got a world that lends itself to multiple standalone novels, that's close enough for many people.

The key point when doing it is not getting stuck writing something that bores you because you think it will help you become better known.

So far, I've only read finished serials. I think a long serial, if I got into it whilst it was ongoing, might be really interesting. If it was updated frequently. I've read long novel series (WofT, Dresden Files), and one of the reasons I don't like Game of Thrones is because it doesn't have a regular schedule.

It depends on the story and how well the writer handled it. For example, whether or not they bother to wrap up story arcs, or just keep them running without any form of resolution.

A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, for example, has awful pacing. You can tell it was planned as a trilogy then expanded to a longer series, especially in the later books.

I tend to read whole series. Definitely believe the earlier comment about stockholm syndrome. I'll finish most anything once I'm 3+ novels deep.

It certainly is a sizable investment in calendar time unless you can write fulltime. I can't, and I've some fifteen months producing what effectively is a stiff 200 K words at first draft quality. Thinking about a full edit gives me nightmares...

Anyway, with a long serial you see where you got sloppy. Readers lost, and they don't come back for more.

From a reader's perspective (well, my reader's perspective), yes, absolutely. Length isn't generally going to make a difference in whether or not I start reading, but knowing that I have a lot of story ahead of me is something that will keep me going if I'm the slightest bit engaged.