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(Meta) Chapter and Verse

23rd March 2009 (14:20)
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I've been thinking about the mechanics of posting fanfic, and thought it might be interesting - and, perhaps, useful to other writers out there - to gather people's opinions on the best way of working. So here are some questions, and under the cut I'll explain my own thinking on each issue.

Poll #1370415 Chapter and verse

When an author is deciding where to place a chapter break in a completed work, which is most important to you as a reader?

That each chapter is a nice, convenient length for me to read at a single sitting.
12(22.6%)
That each chapter ends at a dramatically appropriate moment.
41(77.4%)

A writer has several new chapters of a fic ready to post. How should they do it?

Post every chapter immediately, one after the other.
5(10.0%)
Wait an hour or so between posting each chapter.
2(4.0%)
Post one new chapter a day
24(48.0%)
Post one new chapter a week
9(18.0%)
Do something different, which I'm going to explain in comments.
10(20.0%)

A writer decides to go back and finally finish a WIP they've not touched in years. How should they refer to the earlier chapters?

Include a link to them when posting the first new chapter.
24(45.3%)
Write an elaborate 'Previously, in My Forgotten Fanfic...' post explaining the backstory.
6(11.3%)
Re-post the whole story again starting with Chapter One.
1(1.9%)
I've got a better idea! See comments.
1(1.9%)

One way to decide how to divide a long fic into chapters is, of course, to say "However much I've written today, I'll post it as a new chapter." However, speaking for myself I've been scared off writing WiPs due to my epic failures to complete them in any reasonable space of time, and having to deal with the feelings of guilt this brings. *g* So these days I try to finish the entire story before posting any of it - which means I then need to decide how to divide the story up into chapters.

Hence my first question, which is aimed at discovering how people see the function of chapters in a long story. Are they primarily there as a reader convenience to divide a long story into handy bite-sized chunks? Are chapter endings the equivalent of a bathroom break in a TV movie? Do you think to yourself, "Oh, I've got time to read a couple of chapters before I have to go and do some proper work?" Are you put off if you see a story posted as a single chapter of 6,000 words because it's too long to read, but if the same story was divided into three 2,000-word chapters you'd be more willing to start it? All of these would imply that it's word count that matters most to you.

On the other hand, do you feel that each chapter should be like an episode of a TV show, with a distinct plot, climax and resolution? Do you feel disappointed if a chapter just tails off at the end of a paragraph with a "click here to continue" link? Are you confused if a chapter deals with several different plot strands and characters, because you feel that each of these sub-plots should have been in its own separate (much smaller) chapter? Do you want each chapter to end on an exciting, scary or intruiging note that makes you eager to turn straight to the next one?

As a writer, my own instinct, naturally enough, is for the narrative to determine the chapter breaks. I want each section of the story to reach a natural stopping point - which might be a scene change, or a change in the POV character, or a time jump. It might involve a dramatic revelation, or an important decision by the protagonist, or a cliff-hanger. The thing is, it's easy to do that if you're writing a 2,500-word installment in a serial. It's harder if you've written 10,000 words and then realise that the natural scene breaks don't come after each 2,500 words, but after (for example) 3,000 words, 2,500 words, 400 words and 4,100 words respectively. Should I just shrug and post the story like that? Or is it important to make each chapter at least approximately in the same ballpark when it comes to length - in which case, maybe some of Chapter Four should be moved artificially into Chapter Three?

The second question is an interesting one. I can make several arguments in favour of posting each chapter spaced out over a long-ish period of time: it avoids cluttering up people's friends pages with a whole series of posts from the same person on the same day. It means that people who missed your initial posting are more likely to see you post a later chapter and follow the link back to your original post; and that those who skipped your initial posting due to lack of time get a nice reminder that the story exists. It gives people time to read and absorb each chapter before going on to the next.

On the other hand, I can imagine that some people might resent an author deliberately spacing out posting their story in this way as manipulative attention-seeking, and feel that posting it all straight away is more honest. Maybe? Or they might feel impatient because they finish each chapter and want the next one, knowing that it's already been written but the author is deliberately withholding it from them...

There's also the problem that if you post chapters one by one and give people opportunity to comment on each before posting the next, they might speculate or express opinions on the way the story is going that reflect badly on the chapters you've already written. *g* For example, "I really like the sexual tension you've built up between Fred and Jo; I hope they get together soon!" when your surprise twist in Chapter Four is that Fred gets run over by a bus and Jo is comforted by Nicky and they become lovers... Or even worse, "Normally I'd expect that Bill would be the secret jewel-thief, but your stories are always so clever and have such subtle twists in them. I can't wait to see who is really the thief!" when, of course, you fondly imagined that Bill being the thief would be a really shocking revelation...

The final question is of personal interest because of the epic fail I mentioned in my first paragraph. *g*. Normally, I'd say just include a link to Chapter One when you post Chapter Six, or whatever. But if the last time you updated the fic was several years ago, I'd say the chances of anyone having more than a vague memory of what happened in it are minimal. That means even your original readers, assuming they still cared, would probably have to go back and start from the beginning to remind themselves what happened. (Or not, which is why I included the 'Previously...' suggestion as well). New readers would definitely have to do that, of course. In which case, why not simply re-post the entire fic from the start?

Not to mention that my own feeling is, if you see a post in your flist saying "Chapter 6 of 9" and you don't remember reading the earlier chapters, you're not all that likely to want to jump into the middle of the story. Maybe I'm wrong, but that would be my own reaction. Sure, if it were a writer or subject you truly loved, then perhaps you'd be thinking "How could I have missed this?!" and diving back through the links or memories to Chapter One; but for a casual "Huh, this looks quite interesting, I'll give it a try" reader I think it would be off-putting. But then again, there's the risk that people seeing you re-post a fic from two years ago might wonder what you're playing at, or think you've got confused, or get annoyed because they want to go straight to the new chapters, not wait a week as you post each old chapter again once per day...

Comments

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 14:34 (UTC)

a) Posting interval
If you're posting a finished story, I prefer posting it all at once, but actually don't care for the interval as long as it keeps going. Daily, weekly, no matter. But really really prefer it being done at once. I know that serializing it is good for feedback and egostrokes and gives the story the chance to be on the usually update listings multiple times, so in terms of audience maximisation, probably daily or bi-daily (is that a word?) is probably best.

b) Taking up an old WIP
The best way in my opinion is to post a short intro, with a recap and links to the old chapters and then after a while post the first new chapter. Gives everybody the chance to catch up and still doesn't break the flow for people who will inevitably read it after years from memories or recs or tags or...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 14:41 (UTC)

Regarding (a), daily is the best compromise in my own opinion. I won't deny that audience maximisation is a big factor in that - hey, I work in marketing, I'm not exactly going to see it as a bad thing! But I was concerned that readers might find that annoying, hence the poll.

On (b), your suggestion was more or less my own initial thought - but that's when I wondered "why not post the whole thing again anyway?" I mean, it's not like it actually costs money to repost it or anything...

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 14:46 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:00 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:05 (UTC)

Posted by: Barb (rahirah)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 14:42 (UTC)

I don't care how quickly a writer posts several consecutive chapters, so long as they get posted

Also, a chapter is not just a random chunk of prose. It's a unit, like a sentence, or a paragraph, and it has its own internal structure and flow just as those do, and just as the entire story does.

Edited at 2009-03-23 14:49 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:17 (UTC)

There's something reassuring about seeing "Chapter 3 of 8" rather than just "Chapter 3", I find. :-)

Regarding your point on chapters - I think you can divide your story into discrete sub-units with their own story arcs, and call them chapters. But not all authors do that (Terry Pratchett being a famous example)... And I wonder if it's a hold-over from Dickensian times when many novels were actually publised on a serialised basis?

The question is what you do if you've written a long story that doesn't have an obvious chapter-based structure, but still need to break it down into smaller manageable sections because of LJ wordcount limitations and audience attention spans. Do you force the story into a narrative-based chapter structure? Or just chop it up on the basis of wordcount?

Or re-write it to include chapters from the start? :-)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:25 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:45 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 17:43 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 18:01 (UTC)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 14:44 (UTC)

An additional thought about chapter breaks. Unless we're dealing with something REALLY long, I think I prefer that the whole story (or at least as much of it as is ready to post) be on a single webpage, with chapter breaks being internal headings within the page.

(Except that due to considerations such not wanting to mess up other people's friends pages, one may want to do something like putting a paragraph or two on the initially visible page with the rest of the story behind the cut.)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 14:53 (UTC)
re: all on one page

I know your pain.

I wrote a little script for myself that takes multi-chapter fics from lj-memories and merges them into a nice complete eBook for my iPod. It would work even better, if livejournal mark up were a little more predictable. But still, it's better than nothing.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:06 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:11 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:24 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:28 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:32 (UTC)

I prefer to read my fics on a regular posting schedule, especially if they're over a certain size. Generally, around once a week. Now for me this is around 10,000 words but for others it is probably smaller, here I think a quite dump of a post a day is okay, although a headsup in the first post is appreciated.

If it's a WIP and they've built up a buffer I still prefer that they post at the same regularity. So no splurging for me.

In part this is a consequence of my own writing experience I tend to build up a buffer of 3-5 weeks posts ahead so that if I hit a writing roadblock, content for the reader keeps flowing so the writer has an opportunity to catch up.

On picking up an old WIP I think if it's years old then a summary or recap is in order, along with a link to the first chapter, unless it is hundreds of chapters long.

The WIP posting comments imho depends on how you write. My advice is always stick to the story outline you had in mind don't alter the already written buffer chapter as that way lies madness. They can be useful though if you're writing sequels. Also on WIP's they're an invaluable ego stroke and gee up to keep you writing.:-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:44 (UTC)

that way lies madness

I agree. But the urge to re-write later chapters in view of comments on the earlier ones is hard to resist sometimes...

I know that having people praise installments of a WIP is good encouragement to keep on writing, but it's a two-edged sword when you can't maintain the flow of new chapters. These days, I'd rather write a series of individual linked stories and sequels rather than a multi-chapter epic.

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:55 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 17:52 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 18:08 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 18:21 (UTC)

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:33 (UTC)
fantasy

I think the most important thing is to have the choices serve the story. If you're going to have the reader pause, even if it's just to hit the link to the next chapter, it should be at a point in the story where some extra mulling will serve the story. Similarly, some stories are best told all at once, some with small breaks for reflection, some are served best by making readers seriously wait. But the important thing is to make it all serve the story.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:45 (UTC)

This is wisdom. :-)

Posted by: Episkopos Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V, TRL (alixtii)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:02 (UTC)

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:35 (UTC)

I go for daily posting, or something like 3x a week. Frankly, I think posting more than 3 chapters in a day is sorta spammy.

Yes, it's a great marketing strategy, and I've no problem with that - fandom is a place of *right now*, and keeping yourself (and your fic) out there as long as possible isn't a bad thing. What's annoying is 'I'll post the next chapter when I get X number of reviews'. Posting a completed WIP in intervals doesn't even register on the radar.

That said, as a reader, I'm much more the one-chunk type. But as a writer, I'm gonna stretch things out, and I don't mind writers who do the same. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:50 (UTC)

'I'll post the next chapter when I get X number of reviews'

Does anybody above the age of 12 actually do that?
*raised eyebrow*

as a reader, I'm much more the one-chunk type. But as a writer, I'm gonna stretch things out, and I don't mind writers who do the same

I'm beginning to think I should do what dedicated vidders do, and include a range of download options including multi-post, single post, text file and PDF versions of each fic...

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:04 (UTC)

Posted by: azdak (azdak)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:17 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:46 (UTC)

Posted by: Kieran (bear_of_byron)
Posted at: 24th March 2009 07:19 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th March 2009 20:59 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:37 (UTC)

When I write a multi-chapter story I just put the breaks in dramatically appropriate spots, not worrying too much about the length (within reason, of course). Just recently I took a Forgotten Realms (D&D) story I'd written about 10 years ago and never published, and decided to put it on FanFiction.net. The whole story is around 12,000 words (I think), so I had to go through and insert chapter breaks.

My criterion was that something happen in each chapter to move the plot and make the reader want to go on to the next one. I don't try to impose a full three-act structure on each individual chapter, though.

If I have several chapters ready to post, I space them out over the course of several days, for a few reasons. The main one is that I like to maximize feedback. If you post a bunch of chapters at once, people will tend to only comment once on the whole batch, which makes it harder to tell what specific parts got the best reaction.

Also, I like to space out my posts so I don't have long silent periods, when I'm working on something else or temporarily out of story ideas.

When you post to communities, it can also be frustrating to post a story and then suddenly have someone flood the comm with 20 chapters of their story, thereby pushing yours right off the front page and into the archive -- most people never bother clicking past the first page of the site. That's an especially bad thing if you're like me and rely on community posting, rather than a large flist, for exposure.

Whenever I post a new chapter of a fic, I always put the links to all the previous chapters in my header. That would be problematic if there were, like, 25 chapters. But the longest story I've ever posted to LJ is 6 chapters, so it worked out. If I had too many chapters to link separately, I'd just post a link to the first chapter and make sure each chapter ended with a link to the next one.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 15:55 (UTC)

The main one is that I like to maximize feedback.

Refreshing honesty. ;-) Your point on comms is definitely noted - I don't often post to them (probably less than I should) so it wasn't something I'd really considered.


As for linking chapters - I usually just include a "next" and "previous" link in each chapter. I can see how listing all of them would be useful if someone simply missed a chapter and wanted to go straight to it rather than skipping through them all. But maybe the Memories function would be a better tool for that?

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:16 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:29 (UTC)

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:34 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:50 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:30 (UTC)

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:38 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 17:12 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:20 (UTC)

1. Whenever the narrative requires it. And that's thinking as both a reader and a writer. Chapter breaks, in my mind, are a stylistic device, not a tool of convenience. Yeah, sometimes you'll get some chapters that are a bit longer/shorter than others. So? No biggie.

2. This is a bit more complicated. As a writer, I'm more prone to posting daily so as to not flood people's flists or whatever. However, as a reader I'm not likely to read a WIP until it's completed (I'm a big hypocrite, in other words) so I would prefer that the writer post all they have so I could read it sooner.

3. Well, I have chapter list entries set up for my chaptered fics, and I always link back to those so people can see the earlier chapters. If I'm picking up an old WIP, I might be more inclined to expand the summary so as to include events that had happened previously, but I'd mainly rely on that link to help people get caught up. They're gonna have to reread the early chapters one way or another, really.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:34 (UTC)

as a reader I'm not likely to read a WIP until it's completed

Like I mentioned to rahirah above, I'm not uncomfortable reading a WIP if it says at the top "Chapter 1 of 8" or whatever, because that gives me the confidence that it will, indeed be completed - and also that the author has thought about the structure and plot in advance, and isn't just rambling on with whatever idea comes into their head as they sit down to write each day. Not that I've ever done that myself, oh no. Really.

I do prefer it though if each chapter is self-contained in itself: in effect, another installment in a serial rather than a fragment of a larger work.

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:42 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 17:09 (UTC)

Posted by: woman_of_ (woman_of_)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 16:52 (UTC)
Ami fanged four

A writer decides to go back and finally finish a WIP they've not touched in years. How should they refer to the earlier chapters?

I would suggest posting a link to the chapters, but also link to next chapter at the end of the chapter as well.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 17:25 (UTC)

I think linking to the next chapter at the end of each one is something you should always do. Even if it's a pain to have to remember to go back to your previous chapter after you post a new one and edit it in. :-)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 17:52 (UTC)

As a writer, I view chapter breaks as act breaks in a TV show - they provide beats that shape the story. They do also provide bathroom breaks, but they're more than that. If there's no reason to put a break in except that you haven't had a break in a while, you're not doing it right.

As a reader, I don't care how long or short a chapter is. Sure, longer chapters take more time to read, but I'd rather read a long chapter that feels complete than a chapter stops abruptly in the middle because you hit 3,000 words or whatever.

As for how to post, that's up to the writer. As a reader, I don't really care. Whatever works for you (although I will admit that posting all at once is annoying if it clogs up my flist). If it's a really great story, I might go crazy having to wait a week between updates, but that'll just make me want it more.

Personally, I like to give myself a few days between chapters, for a couple reasons. One, I post to various archives, and so it sometimes takes me a couple days to get the update posted everywhere. And two, I like to see comments on each chapter before I post the next one - you never know when a reader is going to point out a plot hole you overlooked or say something that sparks a brilliant idea. You don't have the luxury of changing things if you post all at once.

In which case, why not simply re-post the entire fic from the start?

Depends how long the fic is. :) Would you really want to repost the whole thing if you'd already written 20 chapters? I think this is where a good summary comes in. If someone's read the WIP, they should recognize it - even if they need to go back and reread, they'll know, "Oh, this is that fic I loved last year that was never finished." And a new reader can judge by the summary whether it's something worth reading from the beginning. In that case, all you need is a link to previous chapters, and it's easy for them to do so.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 18:18 (UTC)

I view chapter breaks as act breaks in a TV show - they provide beats that shape the story

Does that mean you actually map it out in advance according to a chapter-based structure? As in "In this chapter I need the following two things to happen; in the next chapter I'll deal with the impact of those things on characters A, B and S; the chapter after that will deal with S's attempt to put the situation right, and how that goes wrong."?


I will admit that posting all at once is annoying if it clogs up my flist

This is the kind of information my poll was designed to discover. :-)


Would you really want to repost the whole thing if you'd already written 20 chapters?

I have to admit, I was thinking of something more like having posted four or five chapters maximum in the past and wondering whether to repost them, not 20+. :-)

And reposting them would be a good excuse to maybe polish them up and update them, if your writing style has improved or you've now decided to take the story in a different direction!

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 19:27 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 18:29 (UTC)

How did you know I wanted to talk about the writing process today? :P

I view each chapter break as necessary for a stylistic, plot-driven purpose. The ending is more importantly determined by the story than by the word count.

I think breaking up the posts at least by a day or week is best versus flooding the flist. Heh, flooding the flist.

As for a long-forgotten WIP, I think posting a link to the earlier parts and including a brief summation would suffice. If it's truly been a long time, I think most readers will want to go back to the beginning. As a reader, that's what I always do.

My concern with having everything completely written and then posting all at once is getting some huge feedback that shows a serious plothole or flaw in the piece. Yet you've already written your story and reworking it would mean a huge overhaul. What if you end up dumping entire chapters due to this realization? Could you truly let go of what you'd written before in order to do the story justice? If you really had to cut out huge portions because you saw a way to make it better, would you?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 23rd March 2009 20:21 (UTC)

getting some huge feedback that shows a serious plothole or flaw in the piece. Yet you've already written your story and reworking it would mean a huge overhaul.

That's a good point - and obviously answering the hypothetical is difficult because it would depend on what exactly the problem was. If it was bad enough to make me scrap half the chapters, then I'm not sure that in a WIP, it wouldn't make me want to just abandon the entire fic. :-) At least if the fic is written, there's an urge to correct the problem and save what I can of the work rather than give up in despair...

Mind you, I think my first instinct would be to introduce a quick retcon to patch the hole, or hang a lantern on it, rather than go back to the drawing board completely.

I'm trying to think of examples from my work: in 'One Day...' I originally had Spike unable to punch Buffy because of his chip, then remembered that the chip didn't work on her by S7 and had to rewrite the scene, but that was only one chapter that was affected.

In 'Hiywan's Story' I decided that the First Slayer's original name was Hiywan, then about two chapters in got told that it's generally agreed in fandom that her name was Sineya. That called for a retcon where I explained how she might answer to both names depending on who's asking. :-)

I also started a story set post-Chosen which had a lot of its scenes made uncanonical when S8 came out. I pretty much did throw that one out rather than go through all the work of re-writing it - although I've used elements of it in other fics.

Posted by: slayershandbook (slayershandbook)
Posted at: 24th March 2009 06:49 (UTC)

I would normally prefer if a chapter has its own internal structure of opening and closing, but if that closing cut is done when changing scenes as in switching to other people/another location/jumping forward in time or if it's done in a dramatic oh-my-god-what's-he-going-to-say-to-that? way doesn't really matter, as long as you use one or the other.
I do want any given chapter to be a good medium length. It's difficult to say how long that should be, a couple of thousand words maybe? I can say that it's not fun to read a story with 50 chapters that are only 200 words each. But it would normally be a bit much to read a story with 2 chapters of 10000 words each as well.

Posting once a day or once a week depends on how long the story is. If it's a 4 or 5 chapter story, once a week should be fine. But if it's a 20 chapter story and I really like it, I would get frustrated and would prefer a daily posting or at least twice a week.

A fic that's been hibernating should always have a link back to previous chapters (as should any fic with several chapters, really), but I'd also like a summary, a short one preferably.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th March 2009 21:03 (UTC)
cameron-explaining

2,000 words would be my own choice for the right length - anything over 3,500 or so feels too long for a single chapter.

Thanks!

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 24th March 2009 13:43 (UTC)
Dr. Troy

I haven't read the comments, so forgive me if I repeat anything anyone's said.

As a writer, I feel that a chapter should have a "natural" ending. I think by putting in limitations like x amount of words is not necessarily good. I mean obviously, you don't want a chapter to be five hundred words, but if it's only say, seventeen hundred, and the chapter ended on a strong note, where it's supposed to, I wouldn't want to insert filler just so it could say 2,000 words.

I feel the same about chapter breaks, though at the same time, sometimes I will write as if it's a scene break in a show. I think that really just goes to the author's style.

How you post depends upon where you post. If you post on a site, then previous chapters will automatically show, but with LJ, well, hopefully fan fics are tagged and/or in your memories, so that they're easy to find. But a link to "previous chapters" is good as well.

I think that if you have several chapters of a fic, a weekly post is most efficient, so that way, people know when to look for it, and they can actually tell it's been an update instead of the update getting lost in multiple posts.

If it's an old as dirt fic you finally decided to resurrect, I wouldn't restart posting from chapter one (unless you're posting in a new place) because then you'd have to delete all the previous chapters, and I'd only do that if I made dramatic changes in rewrites to those chapters. Other than that, a link would suffice IMHO.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 24th March 2009 21:10 (UTC)

I mean obviously, you don't want a chapter to be five hundred words, but if it's only say, seventeen hundred, and the chapter ended on a strong note, where it's supposed to, I wouldn't want to insert filler just so it could say 2,000 words.

That's pretty much how I feel too; as a writer, I want each chapter to end on a strong note, both because it feels better narratively, and so people will be tempted to keep reading. But it also feels awkward if a chapter is too short, and likewise if it's too long (over 4,000 words, say). I wouldn't add filler to make 1700 words into 2000, but if it was only 500 words I'd be strongly tempted to add a chunk of the next chapter in with the short one to make it closer to 2000...

a weekly post is most efficient

If I have a 10-chapter fic already written, I dont think I could stand to wait 10 weeks before posting all of it... ;-)

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 25th March 2009 01:17 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th March 2009 02:13 (UTC)

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 25th March 2009 02:25 (UTC)

Posted by: slaymesoftly (slaymesoftly)
Posted at: 25th March 2009 00:20 (UTC)

I'd say post a link to the first chapter and do a reasonable recap of the story so far. That way, readers who've never read it, or don't remember it, can find the earlier parts; and those who just needed to have their memories jiggled a little can get on with the new stuff.

Posting intervals on LJ should probably be once a day at the most; with the exception of short fics that are due on a particular day. (Like for a community of some sort). Those could probably all go up on one day. Anywhere else, if a fic is completed, I would just post the whole thing at once. But then, I'm lazy and posting multiple chapters one at a time is tedious.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 25th March 2009 02:13 (UTC)

I think an archive would definitely work differently to posting on your own LJ: people actively search for fics on archives rather than skimming their flist and letting them come to them...

Posted by: slaymesoftly (slaymesoftly)
Posted at: 25th March 2009 10:39 (UTC)

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