Trying something new here

Good day, dear Sirs and Madams,

After quite a time on the sidelines I have decided to join the game.

Introductions are in order I think so let it be short:

Mainly because of Wildbow (to whom I tip my hat...) and his inspiring giant of a story.

However: There are a few questions about which I am rather unsure, even after abusing the forum search a little bit. Please forgive me if they are already answered elsewhere and simply send me a link. :)

1. The Format

Obviously the word count is most often asked about. I already have kinda decided on a schedule (about 4-5 pages a week/8-10 a fortnight. Depends on how the editing goes) but my concern is bigger: I would like to write shorts, mabye novellas and novellettes, that paint a broader picture. A bit like Randolph Carter in H.P.Lovecrafts writing maybe.

2. The Editing

There is some editing, I know that from a few comments I read and what I could gather. But how often, when, how much do you edit? I have planned thath much time for that small amount of text since I am reusing/reshaping lots and lots of older stuff, have no problem with fast writing according to a specific mood or plotpoint (lots and lots of PnP in the forms...) but I am rewriting some of it a third time. By which I do not mean reading for typos but honest to god rewriting: Reading it, ironing out the stupid stuff, even writing some pages completly anew if they are stupid.

I want quality content and should be able to hold it up, I overdoing it, maybe? :/

3. The Language

My greatest Angst.

My mother tongue is german and altough I am somewhat comfortable listening and reading in english but nontheless would I positively HATE writing in it. So I write in german.

Conversely that is precisely why I want to do it. I am quite optimistic to get something started. Especially since I am not completely stupid and know a thing or two about literature and have quite a few ideas about how to approach something new with webfiction.

So: Do you know any german webfiction, perchance, or have recommendations? Should I just write in english and reach for a bigger audience?

Hi and welcome! Great to have you here, Paul. :)

Interesting questions, I'll give them a shot:

1. If you build it, they will come. There are lots of different kinds of serials out there, including some comprised of shorts and standalone pieces rather than a continuous narrative. You may well attract a different audience with a serial like that, but that's not the same as no audience.

There aren't many (any?) hard-and-fast rules with web serials. If you're posting on a regular basis, I think it counts. Go for it!

2. Each chapter that goes up on my serial has had at least three read-throughs before it goes live. The first one or two passes usually involve a bit of rewriting; occasionally, it'll be a more drastic rewrite, depending on how organised I was when I wrote it and how difficult the scene is.

I keep going over it until I can get a clean read-through (no more proofing corrections), and then it goes live. At worst, that means five passes through the piece; three is more normal.

With quality, you get out what you put in. Self-editing is hard (our brains are not well-suited to it), but it's worth the effort in my opinion. The readers notice.

For me, even with taking time and care, typos still slip through (luckily, not often). My readers point them out, and I make a point of thanking them, because it means I can fix it up and make it the quality serial I want it to be, for them.

3. That's a good question! I don't know of any German-language fiction online. A good chunk of my audience is in Germany, but I write in English, so I'm not sure what that means. Perhaps it's a great, untapped audience just waiting for some awesome German fiction to appear?

I guess it might depend on what you're looking to get out of your web serial. Is it sharing your stories with anyone who might be interested? Breaking new ground? Building a big readership? Making money? Do your priorities point you towards a particular language?

At heart, though, I think you should write the stories you want to write and see what happens. (See answer #1)

Good luck, whatever you decide!

Don't know if you'll find any useful insights here, but I might as well throw in my two cents.

Sorry for taking your points in the wrong order. Welcome to WFG, I just got here too. I hope your writing goes well.

1. Write what you want to write. Writing something you're not really into to try to please an audience you don't even have yet is not gonna capture anybody. You won't thank yourself for it down the line. If you really believe that what you're doing is good, that'll come across better than anything born out of insecurity.

2. Give yourself plenty of lead time so you can make at least two editing passes. One a few days after you finish writing a chapter (or whatever), to go at it with fresher eyes, and one a few days before it goes up. Don't do it the day it's supposed to go up, 'cause that leads to stressing and second-guessing.

3. See point 1. :P If you're not really comfortable with a language, don't write in it, unless as a personal challenge to improve yourself. Something you're not going to pin any hopes of success on. I can sympathise as a fellow European, and from personal experience it takes a big commitment to become truly fluent in another language. It's something you should only do if you derive a particular joy from it. I love English, I loved learning it, and I love crafting things with it. That's clearly not the case for you.

Try doing what you want to do. If, later on, you still feel like the language barrier is holding you back, find yourself a good translator who understands both German and English at the colloquial level. They'll be better-equipped and better-motivated than someone who hates writing in English. You wouldn't be doing your own work justice.

Regarding "shorts" in a broader universe: I think it could work? At least, that's what I decided I would try with my "Epsilon Project". Basically I had a central station that recruited teams of individuals and sent them out to solve problems. The station itself (and Alice, as it turned out) was the only thing to carry through both stories I did. Granted I only did two stories (then transitioned to my time travel one for reasons I blogged about) but my intention IS to return for another one next year. The puzzler I had was whether I should submit them here separately or not; I did, which was maybe for the best since one of them featured a Time Lord and was deemed fanfic, so only one got listed anyway. I don't know what the opinions of others would be on that.

Regarding edits: True reality is probably somewhere between my two extremes? "Epsilon Project" was done based on reader suggestions, meaning I had less than a week from when the polls closed to posting the work up. So an "edit" basically meant re-reading it before I posted it... but then, I tend to edit as I go (i.e.- every time I open the file I read from the start, rather than jump down to where I left off). Conversely, "Time & Tied" is a story I wrote 15 years ago. It already had one pass for edits a couple years back, and is now seeing another before I actually publish it. Which sounds a BIT like what you're talking about (I have rewritten at least two entire passages), so maybe you're not overdoing it - or we both are. There's individual quirks to take into account as well; I think through 20+ T&T parts I've caught 1, maybe 2 typos... but oh GOD did I overuse the word 'just'.

Regarding language, don't try for English if you won't enjoy it. You may not get an audience either way, so enjoy what you're doing. I don't know of any German web fiction (but then, I don't speak German), so branch out! Create something. Yay, I answered a question without using a question mark!

That is some very grounding and sound advice. Thank you all very much. For the warm welcome as well.^^ I hope to catch up on a few reviews in the near future.

So...writing comfortably and what I want, not some preconceived false notion about a possible audience, is key. Check. Gonna do that.

As for the format:

Could you elaborate Mathtens? Epsilon Project might have two stories but there are multiple parts to each story, are there not? Like, Story 2 has about 17 parts with a few pages each (roughly,I did not countthem. Sorry). What I want to do is really much shorter. Stories of about 2 to 5 Installments, maybe less, maybe more.

I think I will structure them around a handfull of recurring backstory characters. And places. I really like the idea of your central station.

The editing tips will prove to be really helpful, no doubt about it. :) So it is perfectly normal to go over it quite a few times and work with a backlog. Working on that.

I am doing the first draft by hand so technically there is the possibility for two to three edits. Last one a day or two before an update seems very sound, Ryan.

It's perfectly normal to edit as many times as you feel is necessary. I obsessively polish my first drafts as I go along, but they still get at least two passes before publication. First full pass when it's done. Second after feedback from beta readers. Then my editor at Gryphonwood does line edits and corrections, which catches all the errors I miss or end up introducing during mine. :P The only time you should absolutely stop editing is if you're fiddling with a story for fiddling's sake, not sure whether you're actually doing any good. You've got to cut the cord at some point and just hit upload.

If you're just wanting to start a site for random short stories, I'd recommend doing that under a general brand for yourself as an author. If it's going to be stories set in a shared universe, that's totally workable, but you will need some kind of throughline that connects them. Shared characters, shared locations, ramifications of events described in previous stories, that kind of thing. If they're not connected by a common thread, they might as well not be in the same setting as far as the reader is concerned.

Yeah, well...Okay, I really do not want to only talk about my stuff here. Which is...kinda odd, now that I think about it, since I started this thread for that reason precisely...But the strucure and stuff more than the content.

Anyway: I want the series in the same setting. Mythos-esque,as I said. I have notions about bigger metaplots and a few lines along which I may link stories together, but that is all a bit sketchy. A lot actually. So I will write the backlog out of a few random stories I got lying around and then try to piece it all together. :) A litte puzzle for myself and eventual readers. But they should really be connected, yes.

My primary fear is that I put to little or to small details in that link them together.

Since I do not want to write one story through many eyes and do not want them to directly interact (most of the time) and want to keep the main plot shadowy and in the background to encourage the helpless, hapless feeling the characters themselves should is kinda hard to pin down that sweet spot between knowing and ignorant bliss the reader should have. But I do think that is something only practice will do, right? It is no help just fantasizing about it. One of the reasons I want to start this thing.

With the general brand you mean...? Putting myself as the main attraction and then telling about the stuff I also got in my back? Wildbow obviously is putting the story first what with his separate blogs for everything. Your site starts with Info about your writing but the serial is somewhat hidden, I noticed. Or atleast not the first thing on the page but on the right. Do you mean like that?

Kudos btw. for M&B. Really like those games. :)

Elaboration: Yes, "Epsilon Project 1" was 12 parts and "Epsilon Project 2" was 16 parts (17 including the "April Fool" entry). Each part approximately 2,000 (english) words. But that was partly due to the voting. For #1, at the end of Part 5, two of the three choices were to capture the villain, thus it probably would have wrapped up with Part 6. The votes were for the villain to escape, doubling the length. What could have been the climax merely became another point of conflict.

It might help to have context - when I write a story, I rarely know how it will end. I may have a vague idea for a climactic scene, or a character arc, but it's all flexible until the writing is occurring. (That said, when I start a serial ENTRY, I generally know how it will end. I merely don't know what I'll be doing two parts later.) So if you've got a story vision in your head, and it makes sense for it to be only 2 parts long, go with it. But I think Ryan's right, you may want to "brand" yourself (or the world/universe the events occur in) rather than the stories themselves, if they'll be shorter.

Addendum based on your last: Yeah, the branding is kind of how you market your content. I've (somewhat inadvertently) used myself, because if you search "mathtans" on the web, it's bound to be me, even though that comprises math stuff, serial stuff and more. Oh well.

By the way, don't worry about not doing a count, if that was you on those 2 index pages and my 'About Me' then you singlehandedly doubled my hits for the day. Huzzah! ^_-

Tinten: That's close to what I mean. If your stories have nothing gluing them together other than yourself, you should market the common thread, I.E. you. If you want to market the stories specifically, they have to have something a little bit concrete to unify them, like the stuff I suggested (and a hundred other ways of doing it). It doesn't have to be something really obvious, as long as it references your other stories in some capacity.

My own site isn't quite the same. It used to be all about the serial, but the serial is done, has been for years, and games are my main business and source of income now. New clients see that site as the first info about me, so I have to give priority to my best, newest stuff. Stuff that I'm not giving away for free. :P

Lovecraft for example had tons of common threads. His stories are filled with references to the same things, like Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, etc. etc..

That Brand-thingy is quite good, since I wanted to do that anyway. I have got quite a few paraphernalia from University (love that whole business with the essays and such) I would like to edit and post that way. Plus a monthly Review of the stuff I do. So making it all a bit more a bit about myself is fine.

However: Lovecraft did have common threads, yes, but no cohesive storyline. Except maybe for the awful, awful things happening to Randolph Carter (basically all of the dream cycle plus statement of Randolph Carter) and the general direction of the universe ignoring and aliens eating us there is no overarching plot. There is little to no connection from Call of Cthulhu to Shadow over Innsmouth or Rats in the Wall or Dunwich Horror except the Background and Mythology. There is no single Story behind some of his shorts that connects it all. Which is totally fine since they are awesome through and through. But there is not one single piece holding it together except for the Mythos which is way to dependend on cult status and amassed fandom over time. I took 40 Years or more for it to take hold.

It is awesome but I want a stronger thread, if you will, to bind all the shorts together. Some sort of bonus for observant readers.

Sort of like you feel even more sorry for Randolph Carter in Statement of Randolph Carter after you figure out the timeline of his stories. I atleast feel sorry for a man who escapes the clutches of World War I, deeply traumatized, loses his ability to enter the Dreamlands because of that, tries to connect to a friend who still can dream and inspire and has him stolen by some evil, horrible thing in a graveyard.

At least if my memory serves.

Since there are a lot of reasonable replies already, I'd just like to amplify and possibly take a slightly different position on something Ryan mentioned earlier.

Bearing in mind that there's no German equivalent to Web Fiction Guide that I'm aware of, you might consider writing it in German, translating it into English, and publishing both. Of course, that assumes that you're comfortable doing that, but from what I see of your writing here, you seem capable of it. It would be extra work both on the writing end and on the website end. On the other hand, you might well get readers for the English version more quickly than the German one. That might help keep you writing while waiting for a German web fiction scene to develop.

Ive come across a serial in Dutch. One of my readers actually. It was rather odd, I felt. I should check that out again at some point. See how its doing and all that.

Tinten: That's not a 'however' at all. The Mythos is a great binding element. Just ask yourself, do you ever think of those stories individually, or do you always connect them as parts of a larger whole? That's the point I was trying to make.

Not that it matters -- it seems you've already decided which route you want to go with branding. ;)

Very good input about which I have to think a little while, I guess.

Especially the translations. It would be...nice and could fit with some minor thing I got rolling around in my head (translation as a second field for study) but I would have to try and fit it in after I have found my stride with writing regularly.

Onwards to writing the backlog and testing websites for september. No need to rush into a marathon, no?.

Thank you all for your advice, I appreciate it. :)

It's worth mentioning by the way, that a little less than half my pageviews on any given month are from outside the US. Germans have been reading practically since the beginning of the serial. I've also occasionally had Russians reading using Google Translate (and actually recently received a donation from one last week). It's obvious that some translation program is being used when suddenly you're seeing Cyrillic letters in Google Analytics.

It makes me wonder what sort of readership I'd have outside the US if I actually translated my story.

Alas, I'm not good enough with any language outside English to translate it adequately.

My point being that it's pretty clear to me that there's a German readership for web serials out there waiting for you. Strangely enough being in English too might even help you find it. On the other hand, simply being listed here might help with that.

So...I honestly don't know how this should be handled since I was quite a bit inactive last few weeks...But I just wanted to tell you folks: I'm doing it. :)

Wrote a backlog (most of which I do not like...but it's about 20.000 Words, should last me through about 10 to 15 updates/weeks or one hell of a writers block), figured out my pace (write more than I use actually which gives me the freedom to fuck up a bit), figured out where to go and what to do...and made the webspace ( for anyone interested in criticising the layout).

Am currently editing the first post which should go live later today. And I'm quite a bit nervous, too, since it isn't my best work as of yet...but that shows how much one can improve with just a little time.

Sadly it took a while for me to settle into the idea and don't slack off too much. :/ Been writing consistently for only about three weeks now because all kind of shit went down between me moving and university starting and what not.


I took the quick way and decided to only write german for now. Don't think I'll have enough time on the side for translation which would take a good chunk of my day - especially since I'm not very confident. So I'll translate as I have the time and publish that with a heavy backlog and a master plan. Maybe when I'm coming around to my translation studies. :D

Now...there's nothing left but to jump and hope I can fly. :/

Are you guys nervous btw? In any way, shape or form? I mean when you upload it. Some of us obviously get more traffic than others and more criticism but even if you don't have 2 million hits on your first series there's this uncertainty, no?

I it normal for me to fear the release button?

I've been writing for a lot of years, and a lot of my early stuff was fan fic posted to RPG forums. Back then, pushing the post button was very much a terrifying/exhilarating experience (after which I'd spend way more time than I should confess to clicking the refresh button to see how many reads I'd gotten and if there were any comments). These days, the level of fear/excitement is more mellow and I manage to only check my stats once a day. (OK, maybe twice, but only if I have nothing else to do during lunch. I swear.) What helps me is to try to stay focused on the things I can control--the writing, the story, the presentation (formatting and web site, in this case). But yeah, there's still a definite nerves factor to the publishing click. I don't think you're alone on that one. :)

I only know enough German to ask for a beer and/or an ambulance. (My sons both took German in high school, so I had to pick up a few words for when they thought it was funny to use it to talk around me.) But your site design appears to be off to a good start. Nice and clean basic structure, easy to follow flow, room to add in all your bits and pieces as you're ready to add them.

Best of luck with it!

Great that you're giving it a go! Sounds like you've done preliminary work, and one of the main things is that idea of improvement over time... not only with the writing, but with the confidence and scheduling too. (Had a quick look at the site also, but I don't know German... as Erickson said, looks like a good start, you may want an 'about the author' and/or 'index' page at some point.)

As far as nerves, I don't think that ever really goes away, but the cause for them can change. Me, I'm not as worried about the writing itself any more, I know I'm putting the best I can out there given constraints in my life... so it's no longer "What if someone says this is terrible" now. Some have said they like my writing style, others have pointed out flaws, and someone once told me I draw like a 3 year old, so fine, whatever. It's now become nerves about "What if I never ever get another comment" because I get months of silence - I sustain myself on 2 or 3 daily views. Honestly though, if what we're doing is important to us, perhaps it SHOULD worry us a little? The important thing is to enjoy! And if at first you don't fly, don't give up.