Posting Fiction Online

Hey again!

I thought I'd let you guys know about the series of posts I'm doing this week over at

Every day I'm taking on a new debate about posting fiction online, including:

Posting online--why or why not?

Plagiarism--Stealing ideas

Writing under the pressure of a schedule

Quality of web fiction

And hopefully other topics that will be suggested throughout the week

I'm hoping to confront some of the controversies in web fiction, and try to get some discussion going. I don't want to clutter up the board here, so I'll keep you guys updated in this thread.

I hope I'll see some of you over there.

Your url is wrong. ;-)

I'm not sure I like the three column news layout. The last two columns are a little too narrow to be able to follow the essay portion of the site very well. It would work better, I think, if either a) the columns were just blurbs, and you could click-in to a full-page version of the article (it might already be possible to do this but it's not immediately obvious) or b) if the left column (for reviews, I guess?) stayed that width and the right two columns were merged together.

Just my preference though. YMMV.

Anyway, it looks like an interesting site. I didn't realize there were many controversies in web fiction. I just figured it was a bunch of people writing stuff. :-D

Sorry about the link!

Thanks for your suggestions on the layout, I'm trying to find the best way to present all the information.

Hey guys, just an update on the series.

I'm taking on Heinlein's third rule of writing - "Refrain from rewriting except to editorial order" - and applying it to webfiction writing. Interested to see what people think of this. It's one of those phrases that can send a board up in flames...

My rule is to rewrite if it isn't working.

I wound up rewriting the beginning of Pay Me, Bug! five or six times because I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Something didn't click in the story and I couldn't get past it. The version that's up now isn't really that different, or much better than, the version that was in the original draft, with one significant exception -- this time around the character of Amys (the protagonist's first officer) finally clicked for me, and suddenly the entire story was whole enough for me to be comfortable enough to go forward with it. (There are still problems with the story and parts where I am unsatisfied, but not to the point where I want to chuck the whole thing.)

Sometimes you have to do that, and it can get to the point where you're afraid you're picking your story to death. By the fourth rewrite I was convinced I was picking apart the beginning of my story, but I still had a gut feeling I had to fix something. By the sixth rewrite, I think it's fixed to the point where it can be used.

I have another story I'm going to be posting-while-rewriting where every chapter I said to myself "yeah, this needs to be reworked" and I put it aside to finish the story. This is going to be a little more interesting of a project since I'll essentially be rewriting it "as I go" and I'm not sure how that'll pan out. But as it stands now, the story is a good but the way it is currently told breaks the story. It needs a rewrite, so I'm going to do it.

There is one other in the hopper where all I have are eight chapters. (That's going to be my "high wire act without a net" project). That will be impossible to rewrite because after eight chapters it'll be posted live. I'm not sure how I feel about that. That one might go down in flames.

What Heinlein is saying, I think, is that you need to resist the urge to make it perfect, because (to borrow a cliche) "perfection is the enemy of the good." But that doesn't mean you're enslaved to your first draft...

Heinlein himself admitted that he rewrote. You're absolutely write that it's about getting stuck in the pursuit of perfection. The major problem is getting stuck on one thing and ending up producing less rather than more. Because I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with striving for perfection, or having a project that you keep reworking until you're glowingly proud of it. I've got a project like that. It's my first novel that did the rejection rounds when I first started out. But I love it and I think it's a good idea and I can't let go of the belief that as I become a better writer it will become a better book, and maybe eventually become readable. However, I haven't gotten stuck on it. It's my little side project that I do for fun, or when I can spare the time. I spend most of my time working on my later manuscripts--a handful of novels and a truckload of short stories.

I think it's also true that the more you write the better you become. So if you continue to rip apart one thing instead of writing more, your skills may stall.

Dean Wesley Smith went after the 'You Must Rewrite' myth in his "Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing" series here:

In basic, he thinks it's a myth. That the more you practice, the cleaner your first drafts will be, until really all they need is copy-editing/typo/wordo-correction.

In my experience, he's correct. The more you write, the better you get at telling stories the way you tell stories, and the less you need to rewrite. In some cases, if you take on something new--you've never done a six-novel fat fantasy series, or you've never written a murder mystery--then you'll probably end up revising, because you're back to practicing something you're not good at yet. But in general... I'm with him on that. All the things I've sold to traditional publishers have been "first drafts," and editorial suggestions were always very minor.

Doesn't mean I don't indulge in revision, just that I think it's overrated. :)

I love this part:

That's a great article. I like that he also makes the distinction between editing and revision and rewriting. That's important. Just because something hasn't been rewritten doesn't mean it's completely unpolished.

Thank you M.C.A., for that link.

That article was a revelation.

Glad to help! I highly recommend the other articles in the series also.