"Previously, on..."

I've got an odd broadcast request for many of the writers out there...


Please give me a summary page if you've been at it for a while. Think of it like the thirty-second recap in front of a TV show, which can help a new viewer get up to speed and jog the memory of a returning one. Or, for those who read comics, the one-page summary Marvel puts in each issue.


As a new reader showing up at a variety of sites, it's pretty daunting to try to just dive in. I've tried reading the most recent couple entries and felt lost because I don't know what's going on. But reading from the beginning is an incredibly daunting task, and so far I've been more likely to just abandon the story than undertake it.


If you're already doing this... awesome, carry on smartly. But if you're not, please consider it. I think it will do you a lot of good converting impulse visitors into regular readers.


-J


This reminds me of something that the Epiguide did in days of yore: a weekly update with "previously on..." blurbs for whatever serials submitted them. Or maybe it was "coming next episode...". Or maybe they did both. It was a long time ago!!


The only problem I can see is that casual readers might just skim the summaries and leave most or all of the good stuff unread. But speaking as somebody who's writing a longish novel... yeah, it's doable.


@Leem - "The only problem I can see is that casual readers might just skim the summaries and leave most or all of the good stuff unread."


At least they care enough to come back for the summaries, right?


-J


I'm torn on that idea. On the one hand, I can see the utility of it. I know my serial's been going on for a while and think that might even be useful for regular readers.


On the other hand, if someone does read the plot summary first, it can destroy a certain amount of tension about what's going to happen next.


Still, if it actually helped bring new readers in, that would be good.


I just put trust in the reader to enjoy the story in whatever form they desire. If that means reading through the summaries and leaping in at the current chapter, that's their choice - and the important thing is they HAVE a choice!


Jim, if it helps with your decision on this matter... your site was the first I tried.


I did stick with it for one arc, and you succeeded in keeping me up well past my bedtime on that. But ever since, Legion of Nothing has been on the list of "stuff I'll catch up on someday" which of course I never get around to.


That's not a judgment on the quality of your work. There's a pile of books on my shelf from a variety of incredible authors that I'll "catch up on someday."


So make it easy for people. At worst, you'll get more readers who start from there and stick with you going forward. At best, you'll give them an ongoing reminder that they really want to go back and read it all.


-J


I've got something a little bit like what you're asking, on a Chronology page. It's basically a summary of each section/chapter of the story, light on the spoilers but hopefully enough to convey the gist and drift of the story. I also have a Cast page, so that readers can keep up with who is where (and who is dead).


They're intended to be a quick guide for new/returning readers, but I have no idea if people use them much. It's possible that I use them for my own reference more than anyone else does!


For the longer serials, maybe a division into story-arcs might help. This way the back log can be divided into several more managable chunks.


For the longer serials, maybe a division into story-arcs might help.


I'm doing this at my serial so I'm hoping the smaller chunks seem more manageable from a reader perspective.


But I like what Kess is doing with the Chronology. I think I'll put up a variant of that, link it from my main page, and see if that helps readers a bit.