Webfiction survey!

Hi guys, I'm a student working on a paper for my Technical Writing class, and I was hoping you all could take a moment to answer this survey for me. I've been lurking for a little while, and this is my first post, so I hope you guys don't take it as spam.

The survey should only take a minute to fill out, and it would help me out a lot :>


Done! I hope you can share the results, should be very interesting.

Thanks! In a week or two, I'll put my whole report, including the results.

Filled it out.

Yeah, I'd be interested in the results, too. I've heard a lot of anecdotes that people who read web fiction don't read many traditional novels (which has always struck me as incredibly obvious, personally) and I'd be interested to see if that's backed up in the data.

It's easier to find reliable reviews for traditional novels. With Web Fiction, you have this huge pool of thousands of stories and it's difficult (at least for me) to find something that really grips you. The most popular stuff doesn't necessarily correlate with your own personal tastes, and I get the impression that some of the best web fiction hasn't been reviewed or talked about in years (Worm being the exception that still gets spotlighted). You can't google it, either. But you can google 'Science Fiction novels 2017' and get a bazillion hits with lots of reviews.

I...don't read much webfiction at all, to be honest >_>. One, because I already have far too many books to read (charity shops!), and two because I'm put off by the overt focus on quantity over quality, with serials pushing 10-20k words a week alongside a vague promise of "I'll edit properly it when it's finished" - I don't have time to read a two million word first draft.

(I'm being an outlier again, aren't I?)

That's interesting. I sometimes wonder what other peoples' reading habits are, because I don't think mine are very typical. Right now I'm reading about equal amounts of paper vs. web books, but that has varied in the past.

I'm the opposite of what Chrysalis said in that I don't think I hardly ever chose a paper book on the basis of reviews or general popularity. An obscure book no-one else has heard of to is as likely to be one of my personal favourites as an acclaimed bestseller. The paper books I read have come from my parents' bookshelves, recommended to me by friends, or caught my eye in a used bookstore. Lately I've been making an effort to read more of the literary classics that I've missed out on.

I'm more influenced by reviews in the case of webfiction because the reviews bring the story to my attention. Even if the reviewer didn't like the story, if they make some interesting critique that makes me want to check out the story for myself to see if I agree. After that it's a matter of whether the story catches my interest. With webfiction the bar is very low to trying out a story since it's only a click away. And I started reading webfiction, in fact, by searching "free science fiction stories" in about 2002 - except it wasn't google then I think it was Netscape!

@Dary I hear you. That's another reason I don't read webfiction at the moment, and why I'm going to edit any future serials to published book quality before I start posting any updates.

To be fair, Worm was a really excellent first draft... :)

I would mostly agree with Dary. I try to read some as I write it and I do like a number of them but I still cringe at times at stuff that would easily be caught with just basic editing. I can only speak for myself but while I haven't been publishing web fiction until now (putting out my first Friday) I've been publishing eBook serials at 5000-7000 words a week (the same speed I intend to web publish at) and I go through 4 rounds of editing (including an outside editor) before each part. I plan to continue that, there's no reason not to get it right.


Eeeh, I think Rhodeworks' recent review summed up my feelings towards Worm: interesting ideas, but overwritten. Words for the sake of words. It wouldn't be an issue if it was only asking ten hours of my time, but two hundred plus? I think I'll wait for the revision XD

I have to agree with Dary's last point, and my opinion is in contrast to Chrysalis'. Preference does, in my opinion, have quite a bit to do with it. Some people love Worm, and therefore are more likely to enjoy it in spite of the fact that it needs allot of editing. I don't like Worm enough to forgive the things I dislike about it, so seeing mistakes in a work like that might rub me in a wronger way than seeing mistakes in other stories.

It's just like how I might read an edited and published novel, see a handful of errors that managed to slip through the cracks, but still enjoy it, as opposed to reading a different edited and published novel which I enjoy less and only has one error that slipped through.

IMO, reading a good web novel isn't very different from reading a published novel series with 20 instalments.

Anyway, think I'll take a gander at this here survey.

Words for the sake of words is an issue that plagues pretty much all webfiction that updates on a strict schedule. I know I wrote updates for the sake of writing updates at times, spinning in circles because I had to have something to post without knowing how to move the plot forward.

Yet another reason to edit any future serials before I even post the first chapter!

I am of the camp where 99% of my reading is traditionally published novels. I am extremely intolerant of typos, grammatical errors, and punctuation problems, both because they irritate me and because I find that the more I "flex" my mind to understand writing with these technical errors, the more of them I make in my own writing (My typo rate is actually increasing since I started publishing 5 years ago *sighs*). I also hate not being able to binge read a story from start to end.

The other aspect of it is that I enjoy writing that is "better" than mine. It reminds me that I still have a long way to go as a writer rather than allowing myself to think I'm "good" and get complacent, as well as allowing me to pick up new tricks and techniques that different authors use. I find that I'm not willing to wade through the seas of "this is my first attempt at writing and I'm going to go for a seven-novel epic saga without even having a plot outline don't criticize me the story is really awesome the way I see it in my head" in order to find the good stuff. Traditional publishing companies do that for you.

That being said, I'm sure I'm missing out on some innovative stuff that takes advantage of the webfiction medium rather than being simply a novel posted chapter-by-chapter. My own main project would be quite difficult to turn into novels or even light novels due to the lack of distinct plot arcs to break it into volumes. I'm super busy at school right now so I'm comfortable with missing out, but I'll probably delve more into things when I have more free time and as the webfiction movement matures and hopefully figures out a way to separate out the n00bs from the gems.

Yep. Basically what Dary said. There's an idea in web fiction that quantity = quality (primarily espoused by the audiences). This is, of course, not entirely true. Your average novel has chapters between 2000-4000 words and, typically, there's no part you can cut. For a lot of serials, there's heaps of things you can cut.

If a web fiction is doing updates that go beyond 4000~ words, I honestly need to be able to see why. In my opinion, the art of writing is doing the most you can with the least amount of words. When you don't, you get 20k updates where people wonder 'why is nothing happening until the last 10% of the update' or 'why is there so much navel-gazing'.

On one hand, it's great that when you write a serial you're not constrained by paper or word count. On the other, just because you can write a 3000-word fight sequence or spend 5000 words on a dialogue sequence, that doesn't mean you should.

When I first started reading web fiction several years ago, where I read Worm the first time, I honestly wasn't reading much else. I hadn't really read novels in years because I was busy with a draining job and a Masters. But in the past two or so years, I'm back reading novels and, honestly, it's really hard to get into a lot of web fictions.

You could argue that it's unfair to judge a serial like a novel, and I'd probably agree. But at the same time, given that every serial inevitably tries to jump to being published (sometimes without much in the way of editing, oof), I think it's a fair criticism. When it comes to turning a serial into a novel, I honestly think it's no different to turning a novel into a TV series or a movie -- it's an adaptation.

(Worm, for example, isn't a series of novels as it stands. It's one very long first draft. The simple act of turning it into a series of novels would constitute a pretty heavy edit/re-write. For example, you'd need to create full stories and arcs within each novel, for both the plot and Taylor.)

I like to think I avoid the 'updates for the sake of updates' issue by staying a good dozen updates ahead. But that's difficult, too.

@Rhodeworks Not necessarily - there are books being published as serials without complete stories in each installment. They sell nicely, so I think Worm would do well without inserting artificial book endings for each separate novel. It would need other edits, of course, but no big changes to story structure.

I see the points that both Rhodeworks and and Chrysalis are making, but I do agree more with Chrysalis' last post. I can see several places in Worms story that would make for excellent book ends (I'd mention a few, but I wouldn't want to spoil any bits for people who would still like to read the story).

On the other hand, there is something I'd like to know, and I might even start up a separate thread with further details so this doesn't run too much further off topic.

@Chrysalis - Regarding your post (marked #11 on this thread), I'm wondering if the occurrence of spinning ones wheels while writing and not knowing how to drive the plot forward is common. Not trying to bash anyone here, but personally, I didn't start writing until I had come up with all of the essential elements and events in my story and how they would connect, as well as an understanding of what the ending would entail.

@Kraken Attacken I believe those moments of uncertainty - or plain old writer's block - happen to any web serialist who keeps updating on schedule for more than say, half a year. Because you can't plot everything. Sooner or later, you'll hit some kind of road block and unless you edit everything before you start posting, readers will notice.

I've not run into full writer's block (yet) but I've definitely had points where my original outline is suddenly useless and I've had to take some time to reconnect the dots. No plan survives contact with the enemy, and no outline survives contact with the actual writing process. When NAH is all finished up, I'll probably share just how things changed and why. I think that's one of the more important things you can do when discussing/creating art, that it's an iterative process as opposed to the things people like to say where 'it just came out how I envisioned it originally'.

Yeah, I generally agree that a lot of web publishing is "words for the sake of words"... and it's not just writing that's guilty of this particular sin. Webcomics are, if anything, even worse.

I try to fight that particular impulse, and thus far I've been succeeding in keeping my books relatively small. 70-90k words has been enough to do every last one of my novels, all of which have the main plot as well as one major transformative subplot, then with juuust enough padding to give at least a handful of chapters from the perspective of important side characters. Either to provide valuable exposition the main character(s) cannot, or to show the motives of the antagonist, or so forth.

I don't consider my writing all that tight; shaving 10-20k off any given novel shouldn't be hard. But compared to a lot of web writers, I may as well be Hemingway writing the six word novel.