Online Serial Novels
In recent years, numerous authors have tried to be revolutionary and capture their readers’ interests by offering their novels online for free, chapter by chapter, in hopes it will make people ultimately buy their books. Some of these efforts have succeeded more than others, but the most successful have been those where the author thought out his or her story and wrote it in its entirety before beginning to publish it.
Too many new authors decide to write a story in a serial manner by simply writing the first chapter and posting it, then writing the second chapter and posting it, and so on. These authors may have some idea of where the story is going and นิยาย how it will end, but from day to day, they may not know how they are going to get to that end. I have seen websites where authors write a hundred chapters that wander aimlessly about before the conclusion finally occurs. I’ve tried to read some of these serials, only to give up after a few chapters because the writing was poor and the plot seemed to have no direction. Most of these, I think, were first drafts that were posted without much thought going into them, although the rare exception does exist.
“That’s how Dickens did it!” these authors will proclaim about their serial offerings, trying to equate their efforts with a master novelist. Yes, Dickens did publish his novels as serials and he was a great writer, but even Dickens often planned his books out in advance, and if you look at Dickens’ earliest efforts, they were not as good as his later works. His first serial work, “The Pickwick Papers,” can barely be considered a novel. It’s more like a series of episodic stories that in the end loosely come together when he decided to quit writing the serial. Similarly, his early serialized novel “Nicholas Nickleby” has a tendency to wander about in places. Later, Dickens’ plots became tighter as he became better at what he did.
Online publishing requires the strongest writing because people have short attention spans online-they tend to skim rather than read, and most would prefer to read a paper book or a book on their e-book reader rather than stare at a website for hours, so if the writing is not of the first-rate, keeping the reader’s attention, much less getting him or her to keep coming back to your website, is not likely to happen.
The truth is that many authors who decide to write online serials are doing so to build interest in their books and to find out whether an audience exists that will make it worthwhile for them to spend the money to publish a book. Sadly, many of these authors do not think through writing a full novel before they try to find readers. They are expecting to find fans and receive accolades before they have put in the work to deserve them. These beginning authors would be more successful if they concentrated on creating a cohesive storyline and writing the entire book before they consider how to promote it online as a serial.
The problem with serial writing is that once you publish a chapter, you can’t go back and rewrite it-well, you can, but your readers who have already read the earlier version aren’t likely to go back to read it, or put up with you telling them, “I know in Chapter 12 I killed off Joe, but now that I’m in Chapter 23, I’ve changed my mind, so I went back and rewrote that chapter so he can appear in this one.” If authors will hold off publishing their chapters until they’ve written and polished the entire book, they won’t need to worry about inconsistencies when they publish the story online. And their readers will find the story stronger and more enticing, so they will be more likely to keep coming back to read successive chapters.