Web Serial Fiction discussion

Web Serials > Length of "chapters"

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message 1: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments When writing your chapters each week or bi-weekly (or whatever most do) how many words do you usually go by. I know the "traditional" novel sits around 3K words (on average) per chapter, but what are you folks doing for your chapters/updates?


message 2: by Frances (new)

Frances (mothindarkness) | 83 comments Mod
I've been told online readers like shorter chaps. But I average around 1K and depending on the site it works or it doesn't.
On textnovel they want shorter on jukepop longer. lol
So my suggestion would be to find your rhythm and stick to that. Let the story guide you because making everyone happy is exhausting work. ;)

message 3: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments Thanks. That should point me at least in some sort of direction.

message 4: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments It also kind of drags my story out some. So that'll be a plus too. ;)

message 5: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments Martin wrote: "Personally, I publish a full chapter every Saturday, and end up with about 1.5k to 2.5k words per chapter, but the word count is not set in stone. Because of the nature of my serialized novel, wher..."

Thanks for the feedback too Martin. I was looking at yours this morning (finished the first chapter waiting for the doctor) and was wondering how long yours were. I may split my first one in two as it's just short of 4000 as of now. ~ryan

message 6: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Rochefort | 4 comments My webserial, From Winter's Ashes, publishes once a week, and the smallest chapter is 3900 words. Most average 4500, but some have run as long as 8000.

message 7: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments Wow. So I'm definitely seeing a mix of what people do. This is good. I'm averaging just over 2k but I do have one that will be shorter, and it couldn't be helped. You can only write about a 15 minute kitchen table conversation for so long.

Thanks for the reply.

message 8: by Abner (new)

Abner Senires | 3 comments I don't have chapters exactly. I work in episodes. Each episode is standalone but carries threads of the overall season's arc. I further break up each episode into installments of roughly 1,000 - 1,200 words.

message 9: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments Abner, that's kind of the route I had started. Doing my "chaptering" in the fashion of 1.0, 1.1, etc. if it works I'll continue, if not I'll combine and lengthen them. Thanks for your advice too.

message 10: by Kip (new)

Kip Manley (kiplet) | 10 comments My story's divided into episodes or installments of about 15,000 – 16,000 each—novelette-length—which fits neatly into a 36-page paper ’zine. For online reading, each of these is broken into six acts (ideally, a new installment appears on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the course of two weeks)—and the word count for these ranges from 1,000 – 4,000, depending. —The idea was an act could be read over a coffee break; a full installment in an hour or so. My archives are set up so readers can read either short bits, or the full installment all at once; traffic's about evenly split between people who dip into the archives act by act, and those who plunge in and read four or five full installments in a sitting.

Short, punchy, and above all frequent chapters aren't a bad way to approach a free serial story. —I do note, however, that SerialBox installments tend to be about 12,000 words or so, enough to read in 40 minutes, they say—and certainly enough of a heft to feel like something one ought to pay for.

I think whether it's long or short ends up being less important than how consistent you are in sticking to it. Serials benefit from structure, and while word count is hardly the only way to impose some, it's an easy one to work with. Think of serial storytelling in other media: twenty-two pages of comics; forty-five minutes of television—limits imposed by external considerations, but fruitful nonetheless. There's an almost ritualistic air to it, that can suck readers in, and the expectations and anticipations that they develop from the rhythm of it becomes something else you can play with as the story progresses.

message 11: by Jim (last edited Jan 30, 2016 11:13AM) (new)

Jim Zoetewey | 18 comments Kip wrote: "... I think whether it's long or short ends up being less important than how consistent you are in sticking to it..."

I'd like to amplify what Kip was saying here.

The most important thing to keeping a serial going and increasing your audience is to consistently produce content for people to read. In order to do that, you have to find a workflow that works for you.

I purposely chose a length that I can make even if don't get started till 10 pm the night before it's due--roughly 1000 words, twice a week.

That way even if life gets crazy, I can still post on time.

That said, I would argue that more content is better than less. Wildbow (who wrote Worm) typically posts 4000 words twice a week. Sometimes he's gone as high 10,000 words for seven days in a row.

He's also arranged his life so that he can write for 40 hours a week consistently and is making a living off of donations for his serial. Most people can't do that.

What allowed him to do that, though, is creating a consistent schedule that generated content on time, and that, everyone can do.

message 12: by Madiha (last edited Jan 30, 2016 11:08AM) (new)

Madiha (madihanakar) | 3 comments I post three times a month. On average, I write 6000-10,000 word chapters. However I divide each chapter into 1500-2000 word parts. So say, I'm gearing up to post a chapter tomorrow. I will post in total around 7000 words probably. But I will, tomorrow, post that in three 1500-2000 word parts, rather than one whole 7000 words.

Sometimes there's no clean cut to 2000 available because I wrote a lot in a specific part. So I will make one bigger part and two smaller parts. But anyway, that's the gist of it. I divide them. The Solstice War was designed to lend itself well to this, since there's multiple POVs each chapter, and they're cleanly cut into sections by timestamps and location headers. So there's always a few natural cuts in each chapter.

message 13: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments This all great info everyone. Thanks for taking the time to chime in.

message 14: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments For me, around 2,000 - 2,500 words seems to work pretty well. Since I publish mine on a site with a chapter based voting system (jukepop.com), I would not want to go below 1,500 (it would feel to me, personally, as fishing for votes), but since most readers appear to be reading on the app on commutes and during lunch breaks and want to be able to read a chapter in one sitting, I don't go above 3,000 as a rule of thumb. :)

message 15: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments I'm double posting to jukepop too... What's your story?

message 16: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Oh, exciting! My current serial is called Focal Point (I also wrote Aconitum and Conviction, which are both complete). What's yours? :)

message 17: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Erickson (ryanerickson) | 14 comments I'm writing one called fiVe. I'll look yours up.

message 18: by Marie (new)

Marie Howalt (howalt) | 12 comments Thanks! And likewise. :)

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