Just Posted Video about Blovels

I'm pretty sure I'm the first person to ever post a YouTube video about blovels. If you want to watch it, it's about 6 1/2 minutes long, and any criticisms are appreciated. Here's the link:


http://youtu.be/yljT2BP5PnY


The video is very interesting, but I am a little puzzled by the definition posted at http://gordons-ghosts.com/what-is-a-blog-novel/ .


Most of your criteria apply to what I'm doing with the exception of the length. When I started I was largely doing 1300 words a week and actually was told that was on the low end of serialized fic. Other authors were doing a lot more posts a week and sometimes a lot more words per installment.


Currently my total length of the compiled text is nearing the 150k mark (maybe higher).


I suspect a lot of WFG stories actually fit the majority of your criteria except for the post length which you describe in the video (300-500 words) and the compiled length (60k). So am wondering what makes something a blovel and what makes it something else?


In any case, good luck with the launch next week! Keep me posted on the traction on the term "blovel."


Hello SgL,


I think what separates a blovel from other serialized web fiction is that a blovel is written on the fly. It's created by the blog posts. It's not pre-written and cut and pasted in. Now granted, any writer is going to be a few posts ahead, but in general, the story is written in and through the blog. Also, a blovel post is suspenseful. It makes the reader want to read the next post that's coming.


A long post is impossible to read. No one, when they click on a blog can tolerate reading a 1300-word post. That's why I believe a post should be short. I've examined with other writers what the appropriate word count should be, and 250 seems minimum, and 350 seems maximum.


I'll definitely list my blovel here, and I'll be posting in here when I start it. This will be the first blovel I've ever done, so I will be learning as I go. Perhaps if you check it out and comment, you can help me grow.


Oh, and keep in mind that 60,000 words is approximately 200 pages, and that's definitely a novel.


Talk to you soon,


Ed


I sort of cringe when I read that, Edward, because I dislike assigning labels where they aren't needed, and because I think you're off base. Just for the record, I studied Applied Languages & Discourse in university, and one of the subjects we covered was textual genres. Not in terms of fantasy vs. science fiction, but the blueprints we use to craft/interpret various modes of communication. An essay, blog, graffiti and novel are all different genres.


Here's the thing, though. Anything we write is going to fall somewhere on a spectrum. Saying that it's a blog vs. a novel vs. webfiction vs. a web novel, it creates all these subcategories and they don't do anything for us. They just limit us and divide our potential audiences.


My story (Worm) does meet your requirements of being written on the fly, created by the blog posts. It's not pre-written or cut & pasted in. It's suspenseful. It makes the reader want to read the next post.


But it's 600,000 words. How does that affect its ability to fit into the blovel category, there? How does it fit into the broader swathe of webfiction categories? Compare to, say, Legion of Nothing, and can you say that they're the same type of writing? The same general category? Where do you draw the lines? Like I said, it's a spectrum.


And with Worm the posts are far longer than 1300 words. 4000-10,000, more like. And people do want to read it. It's fairly popular here on Webfictionguide and elsewhere. So I can't help but disagree on the notion that 'no one who clicks on a blog wants to read more than 1300 words'. In fact, I think terms like 'every', 'no-one' and 'always' are liable to hurt your cause here. I'm not sure who these other writers you've consulted are, but 350 words is very very few when you're trying to tell a story.


Getting back to my first paragraph, I'm cringing because I fear you're letting your own biases define the 'blovel' genre for you. You say, "That's why I believe a post should be short." Wouldn't it be better to define and label the 'blovel' based on what happens organically in its natural conception (where readers/writers gravitate towards something because they've started applying the idea in practice & it works for them) versus what happens because you're pushing own preferences/ideas prior to publishing word one?


Sorry if that sounds combative, but this feels forced, and that sort of grates.


Many stories are written on the fly here . Are you then stating that the "blovel" definition seems to be hinging simply on length of that post? Or being literally typed inside the blog-client interface? That would be pretty much the one unique criteria among the several you cited.


Still mulling this focus on length as a requirement . Cell phone novels used to be around that length too... but that was largely due to the kind of phones back in the day. Flash Fiction also falls into the same ground as "blovel." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_fiction)


So I can see why you're interested in the short format, but am not clear as to how you arrived at this conclusion that anything longer than 300 words is unreadable. Is this based on marketing data of some sort?


Perhaps, Edward G, it would illustrate your ideas better if you could point us to a handful of successful blovels?


I think "webfiction" is a more functional title because it establishes that the fiction is for the web -- it's digital. "Blovel" aside from sounding like "bowel" is a combination of "blog" and "novel" -- and to me, that's already called blogfic. It's a fictional blog. Blogs aren't stories, they're collections of updates, thoughts, recipes, pictures and diaries -- and if it's done well, that can be ficitional and interesting.


But I don't blog -- I write stories. Fictional ones. On the web. Webfiction, like this whole guide.


In the paraphrased words of Regina George, "Stop trying to make blovel happen. It's not going to happen!"



Honestly, if you can't hold a reader for more than 300 words at a time, well, it's probably not your reader's fault.


I will certainly agree that a novel done on the web with an audience providing feedback throughout its development is going to be something fundamentally different from one written in solitude for print. The medium is the message, after all. The constraints and goals are necessarily different. But I for one am not going to start using the term "blovel" to describe that. Nothing that rhymes with "hovel" or sounds like "blech" is going to get my vote for the name of something I enjoy.


Chris


And with Worm the posts are far longer than 1300 words. 4000-10,000, more like. And people do want to read it. It's fairly popular here on Webfictionguide and elsewhere. So I can't help but disagree on the notion that 'no one who clicks on a blog wants to read more than 1300 words'. In fact, I think terms like 'every', 'no-one' and 'always' are liable to hurt your cause here. I'm not sure who these other writers you've consulted are, but 350 words is very very few when you're trying to tell a story.


Hello Wildbow,


I appreciate your comments as well as your academic qualifications. But I think people have to have clear definitions on things or there isn't a frame of reference for us to talk about them. Other people will have other definitions, I suppose, but if one asks me, I'm always going to say that a blovel is a web-based novel created on the fly in a blog, consisting of 250-350-word posts which contain a suspenseful element that makes the reader want to read the next post.


But, I realize that hard rules like that won't always hold up. The more popular and entertaining a writer is, the longer their posts can be and the more time they can have in-between posts. But there's a trade off: Blovels should be fun for both the writer and the reader. Fun, entertaining are the keywords in my opinion, when it comes to blovels.


Getting back to my first paragraph, I'm cringing because I fear you're letting your own biases define the 'blovel' genre for you.


Well, yes, of course I am.


You say, "That's why I believe a post should be short." Wouldn't it be better to define and label the 'blovel' based on what happens organically in its natural conception (where readers/writers gravitate towards something because they've started applying the idea in practice & it works for them) versus what happens because you're pushing own preferences/ideas prior to publishing word one?


Sorry if that sounds combative, but this feels forced, and that sort of grates.


Blovel is a relatively new term, and it's a relatively new concept. I think without a standard definition and example it won't catch on. I'm trying to provide both. We'll see how that works out.


Many stories are written on the fly here . Are you then stating that the "blovel" definition seems to be hinging simply on length of that post? Or being literally typed inside the blog-client interface? That would be pretty much the one unique criteria among the several you cited.


Still mulling this focus on length as a requirement . Cell phone novels used to be around that length too... but that was largely due to the kind of phones back in the day. Flash Fiction also falls into the same ground as "blovel." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_fiction)


So I can see why you're interested in the short format, but am not clear as to how you arrived at this conclusion that anything longer than 300 words is unreadable. Is this based on marketing data of some sort?


Hey SgL,


I think what might justify the word-count I insist on is actually me, myself and I. What I mean is that I am an educated reader. I am pretty computer literate, I want to read blovels, and I have never done so yet. So, when I go to a blog I am kind of virginal. My tastes are still in the forming stage. I am very much like the probable reader that one would attract through promotional efforts, and this is what I think:


A blog that's difficult to navigate, I won't read.

A blog that looks simple is fine, but one that looks cheesy is out.

A post over 350 words, looks way too long and "tiresome." But if the writing is good and fast-paced (think Gillian Flynn, or John Grisham), I might keep going up to 500 words. 10,000 words, I wouldn't read if Stephen King wrote it--not off the screen. I'd have to print it out.


There have been other people since 2006 who have contemplated what constitutes a blovel, I've read their opinions online and 200-500 just seems to be it.


Perhaps, Edward G, it would illustrate your ideas better if you could point us to a handful of successful blovels?


I would love to do that; I really would. I have searched, but I can't find one. Hopefully, I can make one. Not saying your writing isn't good, but in all my searching for blovels, I never came across it.


And what is successful? For me, this year, successful would be finishing a blovel and providing an example of what I think it should look like. Ultimately, I think it would mean attracting readers who would be inclined to buy blook versions on the blovels they never got to read.


I think "webfiction" is a more functional title because it establishes that the fiction is for the web -- it's digital. "Blovel" aside from sounding like "bowel" is a combination of "blog" and "novel" -- and to me, that's already called blogfic. It's a fictional blog.


But that's just it. That's why I have made specifications for a "blovel." Because a blovel is a type of web fiction. It's a type of blog fic, but it is not, for instance, a novel that is cut up and pasted into a blog. That's an "online novel."

As for the word, itself. I didn't invent it. It's been around since 2006. Just google it.


Blogs aren't stories, they're collections of updates, thoughts, recipes, pictures and diaries -- and if it's done well, that can be ficitional and interesting.

But I don't blog -- I write stories. Fictional ones. On the web. Webfiction, like this whole guide.

In the paraphrased words of Regina George, "Stop trying to make blovel happen. It's not going to happen!"


Well, you keep doing what you're doing. I've never heard of you. I've never read your work. You don't pop up on searches, and there you have it. "Blovels" may not become popular, or writers may start doing them and addicting their audiences and selling their blooks, and getting movie deals. I don't have a crystal ball, but I also know that you don't either.

And if it doesn't work, then I'll drink a shot to dashed hopes and good intentions.



Honestly, if you can't hold a reader for more than 300 words at a time, well, it's probably not your reader's fault.

I will certainly agree that a novel done on the web with an audience providing feedback throughout its development is going to be something fundamentally different from one written in solitude for print. The medium is the message, after all. The constraints and goals are necessarily different. But I for one am not going to start using the term "blovel" to describe that. Nothing that rhymes with "hovel" or sounds like "blech" is going to get my vote for the name of something I enjoy.

Chris

Actually, the way you've written Winter Rain is exactly what I'm talking about. Granted I only scanned through a few of the posts, but I don't think they were 1500 words long. They seemed to be the right length, or close enough to it. Perhaps you got longer as you went along. But that, I would consider a break in the discipline. But that's me.


Also, you have abandoned that story, so it's not an example of a successful blovel. Nevertheless, what you have there is very close to exactly what I mean by a blovel. You say you don't like the term, but come on? puck sounds like...and Schick sounds like...


In all honesty, blovel sounds like a "not going to worry about it" thing to me.


Aside from thinking the word sounds goofy, I don't see any practical implications of people calling what they're doing a "blovel." Well, except for SEO. I suppose I should put the word blovel on my site somewhere if the word gets some traction. Till then, it's a definition, but not a commonly used one.


It doesn't really change how I write or what I write, making it a moot point.


That said, the vast majority of the web fiction I've seen and/or read probably counts as a blovel with the exception of the word count issue, so my gut response could be summarized as, "What, another name for this?"


Still, if the term catches the public imagination, I'll call my work a blovel, or more accurately a series of blovels.


I've got to admit though that I'm hoping it doesn't.


I can't help but wonder why, when the originator came up with the term, they looked at "blog" and "novel" and chose "blovel" over "novelog"? Not that I'm really advocating for either term to become commonplace - I've had just about enough of Internet portmanteaus, thank you very much - but I'm with Chris, and the others who've mentioned it, that the sound of blovel decidedly puts me off.


Like Wildbow said, I don't really see why there needs to be another term for web fiction. Like, I get (I think) that for these "blovels" the blog aspect is integral to its existence in a way that it is not for other fiction posted online. But I'm not sure that using a whole separate term for them is necessary; and I'm not really sure what it accomplishes. Does being able to write web fiction in the tight little "blovel" package (as defined by only one person, so far as I know) somehow make the work a more holy thing? I think it doesn't. At least not for me.


A quick check of my RSS feeds and bookmarks (for those without feeds) shows me that I read 72 currently updating works of web fiction in all their various formats. From the longest of the long (probably "About Schuyler Falls") to the shortest of the short ("Kingdoms of Evil"; or, rather, its follow-up stories). I'm not sure that any of them adheres strictly enough to your formula to qualify as a blovel. And yet all of them keep me engaged and coming back again and again.


"Kingdoms of Evil" was pretty close to your description of a blovel, except that it was written in full (albeit with the thought of serialization in mind, as I understand it) before it was published online. It just concluded at the end of last month and the author was looking for interest to continue the story into a sequel, but he felt he didn't get enough support (which is a shame). While it was being published it was put out in very short instalments on a regular basis in a blog format.


Another that comes to mind since we're talking about blogs and fiction is "The Apocalypse Blog" by Melanie Edmonds. Its entries are probably too long for you to categorize it as a blovel, but it certainly was bloggy. It too has been finished but it was my understanding that while it was being written it was written "on the fly" (though perhaps with an outline).


"Of Vice and Virtue" published in a blog format, although the entries usually hovered around 700-800 words. It was updated daily for months until the author, at least in part due to lack of feedback, opted to slow down his updating schedule. And now it hasn't been updated in more than a month.


A fellow named Scott Salsman writes a series call "Bold Traveler" that might actually fit your description. To the best of my knowledge the story isn't pre-written and the updates are quite short (400 words would be extremely long). It's updated weekdays and it's actually pretty good. I'm not sure if I would have been able to get into it, though, if I hadn't come to the story after it was already established for a couple of months, because the entries are so short there's almost not enough there to make the characters stick in your mind.


I think I've meandered somewhat from the point of my original reply; although perhaps in one of those examples you could find something worth reading, I certainly have.


I'm not sure that "blovel" as a term will take off, and I'm absolutely certain that I don't want it to. But I didn't really want "blog" to succeed when it began to take over the universe, either, and look how that worked out for me.


Blog is definitely an ugly word too.


On the length thing, this is probably partly about what your pathway into reading stories on the web is -- for those of us who came in through the old old online fiction communities, or through fanfiction, it is very common to have posts of 5,000 words or more, and to read that onscreen. I don't particularly like reading onscreen, but if I am going to do so, I'd rather read it in long instalments than be constantly clicking through pages every 500 words. I will also note that if you have to have a cliffhanger every 300 words, your characters won't be doing much other than hanging from cliffs, and that I have stopped reading at least one webfic because I found the pace of 500 word updates irritatingly slow. I was just getting into the swing of the post, and then... it was over. (I did buy the eBook though, so ultimately a win for the author. *G*)


None of this is to invalidate your points, EdwardG, but just to point out that there are different readers with different tastes and it's important to understand where your readers are coming from - I quite frequently target people who read a lot of original or fanfic on livejournal (and elsewhere since the LJ diaspora), and they are acclimated to much longer instalments than 300 words.


I am reminded of (I think it was) SgL in one of the other blovel posts saying that in terms of what people are googling, it's "online novel" - neither webfiction nor blovel has much traction, so the distinction between them is probably a nice point at this stage. Personally, I remain unconvinced that enforcing a rigid demarcation between a "blovel", "blogfic", "webfiction", "online novel" etc really helps anyone, because it just fragments an already rather small reader base.


You have to understand something: When I came looking for serialized web fiction as a complete outsider to it, I searched and the term "blovel" was the first thing that came up.


And I don't mean this to sound rude, but I know it's going to step on some toes, and I apologize ahead of time for that, but please try to understand where I'm coming from: It's probably a good thing the people at Web Fiction Guide don't call their work "blovels" because no one is reading them, no one knows they exist, they're not a literary movement, and very few people care to read lengthy posts on a computer screen. If people search for blovels and this is what they find, they may well be turned off. If blovels are going to become fashionable, it's probably best they aren't linked with the old school serialized web fiction. Instead, they need to be trendy, professional and addictive.


Please don't take what I've said personally, because I think anyone already associated with serialized web fiction would probably make a good blovelist, too, if they want to get on board, and I think getting on board at the beginning of a movement is always better than trying to find a seat after that train has left the station.


And when it comes to the word count, I have a feeling I'm going to have to adjust that. Keep in mind, I'm only just starting, and there's almost 0 information on what makes a blovel a blovel. If someone is a good writer, 500-750 words per post may be more of the norm, but that writer would probably have to be a full-time writer with a dedicated following. Remember, blovels are supposed to be fun for the writer, too.


Also, blovels, in my opinion, are more action oriented and less character driven, more like genre fiction and less like literature. But I realize I may have to change my tune on that as well.


I'm starting my first one on Halloween at midnight on the 31st. It's at http://gordons-ghosts.com You can check out my layout now if you like.


For the record half of what I say about blovels is speculation at this point. Six months into "Rise of the Zombie Lords" and I may be singing a different tune. I just don't know yet.


I started writing my blog Miladysa back in 2005. I was then blogging, that is writing about factual events which were happening in my life at that time, commenting about what was happening locally and worldwide and also posting a few snippets of my family history.



One of my blog readers commented that I should try my hand at fiction and amongst the other blog posts I started to add a fictional one every so often. Each post was written on the fly, their length dictated by the amount of time or inspiration I had. After a while, I moved the fictional posts over to their own blog and Refuge of Delayed Souls was born.


Sometime later I stumbled upon the WFG and discovered that there were a lot of other people out their doing something similar fiction wise only they had a term for it, web fiction. Web Fiction seemed to be an umbrella term for various types of fiction posted on online, sites like my own fiction blog which were written and posted weekly, completed stories published in sections and 'fictional bloggers' -- bloggers who were posting fiction using a blogging platform and taking on the persona of a fictional character. Whatever style writers were favouring their stories were classified as "web fiction" because it was ultimately fiction posted on the web.


I do not have a problem with the term 'blovel' although like many others here I am not particularly keen on it. If people want to use if as a term for fiction written "on the fly" and posted on a blog as opposed to a completed novel posted in sections that is fine with me. What I do object to is that someone should attempt to draw up rules to govern how long each post must be in order to "qualify". Blovels have been around for a long time, the length of each post has always been dictated by the individual writer. It is not possible to write rules in 2012 for something which has existed without them for such a long time.


I also take issue with is this:


<p>Actually, the way you've written Winter Rain is exactly what I'm talking about. Granted I only scanned through a few of the posts, but I don't think they were 1500 words long. They seemed to be the right length, or close enough to it. Perhaps you got longer as you went along. But that, I would consider a break in the discipline. But that's me.


Also, you have abandoned that story, so it's not an example of a successful blovel. Nevertheless, what you have there is very close to exactly what I mean by a blovel."</p>


In my book a blovel does not have to be completed in order for it to be successful, in fact I would go so far as to say that blovels are seldom completed. In order for a blovel to be successful it has to draw readers back on a post by post basis and keep them wanting more. Without doubt Winter Rain achieved this. I still want more today. It does not matter how much time has passed since Chris last posted his story or if he will ever do so again. Winter Rain lives on the web and is only sleeping. It can be reawakened at any time. Winter Rain is web fiction and in my opinion not governed by any rules.


It's probably a good thing the people at Web Fiction Guide don't call their work "blovels" because no one is reading them, no one knows they exist, they're not a literary movement, and very few people care to read lengthy posts on a computer screen.


Possibly true, but on current evidence there's still more people reading "webfiction" than "blovels", given you couldn't list a single successful one earlier in the thread. *G*


Also, webfiction isn't a "literary" movement? By what criteria? What will mark blovels out as literary when webfiction generally (or separately) is not?


And you still haven't quantified the "very few people" bit, whereas several authors here and elsewhere in the forum have provided their (impressive) readership stats for posts in the 1000-1500 word range. I would be genuinely interested in any quantitative evidence you can provide for this claim, rather than just using yourself as the "typical reader".