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Posting strategies for long fics

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by lazykbys, Feb 5, 2005.

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  1. lazykbys

    lazykbys Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 21, 2004
    I was thinking about how people post their long fics, hoping to emulate the more successful ones. After a while I became thoroughly confused and decided to ask for help.

    What works? What doesn't? What gets on your nerves as a reader?


    1. Announcements in the thread title

    When you edit the first post in the thread, you can change the thread title (but you knew this, of course). This can be used for announcing all sorts of stuff: when the story was last updated, chapter summaries, that it was nominated for an award, that Darth Real Life is winning, etc.


    2. Preview posts

    This is a short post to introduce a fic you are going to post, a day or so before actually posting it.


    3. Reserved posts

    Some people actually manage to map out their stories to an astonishing degree and post a number of empty posts to be edited later as the story is written.

    As a lazy reader, I must say this makes it easier for me to read the whole story in one go as I don't have to skip through the readers' comments.


    4. Posting finished fics

    There was a time when I didn't even mention a story I was writing until it was finished. Obviously I lost that discipline, but there are those who can do this. Wow.


    5. Holding back

    This is when you post only a bit of what you have written. It can be for pacing purposes, or so that you have a backlog to fall on when writer's block strikes, or because you never know when you'll need to rewrite the last chapter . . .


    6. Chapter titles

    I have a hard enough time thinking up titles for the fics themselves. However, some people manage to do so for every chapter, which I think is rather amazing.


    Thoughts, anyone?
     
  2. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrely Community Mod star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 7, 2000

    1. Announcements in the thread title - One of the best things is to be able to see if a fic is updated with a quick glance. Personally, don't care for much more in the way of info here.

    2. Preview posts - Doesn't excite me one way or another.. though it should be up and make a reader wait to long for a post of the fic.

    3. Reserved posts - I'm not entirely sure what this is... plus if I really like a fic I've learned to enjoy other's replies. Seeing if they got something different out of the post then I, or perhaps catching something that managed to elude me, and it's a nice way to get to know people by reading everyone response.

    4. Posting finished fics - I admire those who can wait.. plus it means as a reader no long waits... though there been some I've been more than willing to wait for.

    5. Holding back - If the author doesn't say, the reader has no idea about it so it might not matter.

    6. Chapter titles -- Another envy of mine. I have trouble completeing fics much less titling chapters. LOL!

    Thing is, it's still really a matter of doing what's best for you. Plus, if you do have Darth Writer's Block, please let you readers know, don't just disappear and leave them guessing and hoping... I think as a group the readers are a most patient lot. :)
     
  3. LadyPadme

    LadyPadme Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 26, 2002


    What exactly is a 'reserved' or 'empty' post?

    Another thing I find helpful is a beta reader. Especially with a long fic, it's helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and someone who can see if plotlines are going too far off tangent. Also, too many typos makes a fic too distracting. It's not so hard when you're reading a vignette, but trying to plough through errors in grammar and spelling in a long fic is a torture.

     
  4. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Interesting questions....
    I'm one of those writers that takes forever between posts - not because I'm not working on it but because I take so long to write. Luckily my readers understand but I often feel guilty about making them wait so long...

    1. Announcements in the thread title
    As a writer, I make sure that the title reflects when the last post was done. That way, the reader knows if it has been updated. I must admit that I have put a quick thank-you when my readers voted for my fics... but I usually just change the dates and maybe a word or two about what the post contains.

    2. Preview posts
    I only did this preview once - to show that I was indeed working on the post. My readers deserve a real post so I don't dangle previews in front of them. As a reader, I would prefer that the author not do this...

    3. Reserved posts

    I don't do reserve posts. When reading a long fic, the readers' responses are sometimes just as interesting as the fic. I can understand other people wanting to cut past all the readers comments, though, especially a really long story.

    4. Posting finished fics
    I wish I had finished the story before posting. It's much easier to post knowing that the story is already done. I will be posting only completed stories in future.

    5. Holding back
    If you have a really long fic that is completed, I could see you posting one chapter at a time rather than the whole thing. It can build suspense plus the reader replies sometimes will give you some ideas for changes in the stories.
    But, if you only have a couple of paragraphs, then wait to post more. Sometimes, it's hard to keep up with several fics if the author posts only a little bit each day.

    6. Chapter titles
    I have a hard enough time coming up with titles. Chapter titles - oh my! Plus as a reader, I just skip chapter titles and get to the meat of the story.
     
  5. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999
    2. Preview posts

    This is a short post to introduce a fic you are going to post, a day or so before actually posting it.



    YOu might not want to createa thread only to have it say "There'll be a story here soon" as it's likely a mod will lock it.

    Advertising a story beforehand is still advertising.
     
  6. Jedi_BMK

    Jedi_BMK Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2004
    1. Announcements in the thread title

    Check. By far the easiest thing to do.

    2. Preview posts

    Nothing I do personally unless you count a little blurb with the title of the next chapter at the end of each one. It could be a good way to keep people interested during a hiatus or something if you put it at the end of a current project.

    3. Reserved posts

    I can't say I've honestly seen this done, but that doesn't mean much. And considering that, as a reader, I go straight to the link for the last page of the thread to look for updates, I'd find it disconcerting. This is on top of the fact that I do like to hear what other people think of the fics I'm reading.

    4. Posting finished fics

    When I started writing I swore I'd do this, but it's never happened. My desire to find out what people think eats away at my self-control and I start posting an unfinished work. However, I always have a complete outline, about a third to a half page for each chapter, for the entire story before I start truly writing the story. I've never deviated too far from the original and it's a good insurance against a really bad case of writer's block.

    5. Holding back

    Guilty. I have a pretty big backlog of written chapters on my harddrive ready to go. Every weekend, I put the final edits on and markup all of my posts for the week and can coast through even through major DRL attacks. I also make it a point to have a few weeks worth of writing done before I'll start posting. As an extreme example, I'm just now finishing up posting the chapters that were written before I started posting my first fic. Basically, I had like two and a half months worth of writing done from the outset. My new standard is three weeks worth of material in spite of the fact I can usually punch out a month's worth during an inspired weekend (Sickening, I know. But it's true, although rare.) It really comes in handy when DRL is monopoloizing my time.

    6. Chapter titles

    This is part of my outlining phase. As I come up with the basic outline for each chapter, I come up with a chapter title (sometimes, I even do it in reverse). I just started doing it when I began writing here and I haven't looked back. Usually, I have an easier time with chapter titles than story titles since they're more focused. Besides, I like the simple chapter title teaser at the end of each post.

    Other

    I'd say the best tool, to me, for keeping on track with a long fic is to have a good idea where you're going. It helps you to avoid Darth Writer's Block and really is a pretty good idea in the first place. This is why I write out a pretty detailed outline. It also allows for long term foreshadowing and keeps you from writing yourself into a corner. I like to show a flash of something that will pop up in a major way at the end if it fits in earlier.

    Also, I find wanting to see the readers' reaction to the event in some chapter I've yet to complete, but that's sitting in my outline, good motivation to keep writing and posting. Also, an outline is good for avoiding tangents (even if I think I may be guilty there anyway) since you can see the overall flow of the story.


    Those are just my thoughts and they may not work for you, but I just thought I'd throw it out there. You never know when you may give someone a good idea.
     
  7. JalendaviLady

    JalendaviLady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 20, 2002
    I don't think I could ever do reserved posts. I'm a fan of leaving teasers and snippets of information for my readers, to the point where if I ever HAVE to repost (like if the board move causes mayhem), I'll probably put all the extra information that had followed the original posting of a chapter right after it in the repost.
     
  8. Jesina_Dreis

    Jesina_Dreis Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    1. Announcements in the thread title

    I put in the date last updated and the chapter number. When reading, I find that it helps me a LOT to know when a story was last posted to.


    2. Preview posts

    I usually start my stories with a post with all the information (title, summary, characters, notes, dramatis personae) and then a minute or two later post the first post of the story. I like to have that stuff out of the way, away from the text of the actual story, and as long as the first story post is coming right away (I usally put a note at the bottom of the 'preview' post to say that the story is coming in a minute) it hasn't gotten locked on me.


    3. Reserved posts

    Never done this...I don't have any idea when I start how many posts I'm going to do, and I think it would annoy me as a reader, having the comments separate from the story posts.


    4. Posting finished fics

    HA!! Yeah, right...I need feedback WAY too much for that, LOL :)
    It probably would be a good idea for me, but I post pretty much as I go along.


    5. Holding back

    I sometimes write ahead of where I am and wait a couple of days before posting the next part. But usually I'm right on track.


    6. Chapter titles

    I'm with you...story titles are bad enough ;)
    I tried giving titles to each chapter for one of my stories on ff.n but it was awful. The titles were redundant have the time, and really unnecessary.


    Jes
     
  9. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Jun 25, 2002
    1. Announcements in the thread title

    I always post the date of the last update, so people know whether the story thread has been upped with a new entry or just a comment. (Not that comments are bad, mind you! I love them.) I've only rarely used the title call attention to "author notes," but it can be useful to do.

    2. Preview posts

    I've never done that . . . I expect Herman Snerd's right and the thread would get locked.

    3. Reserved posts

    Oh, man . . . I wish I was that good. I have a hard time with the "all mooshed together" form of TFN's threads. If I knew exactly how many posts I was going to make a story in, I would so do that. Of course, my current story would have close to 300 "reserved" spots by now. :p

    It would be great if the new boards had a way of showing "nested" topics within threads, the way Usenet and Yahoogroups do. That way the story posts would stand out from the reader replies.

    I'm gonna ask one more time--does anybody have a copy of the "Tagged" program that JM-Anakin-Solo wrote, which would strip out reader replies? I used to have a copy, but I lost it when my old computer crashed. I sent an e-mail about the program to JMAS's posted e-mail address, but got no reply. :(

    4. Posting finished fics

    I have done this, but not at TFN. In fact, anything under about 80 pages that I've written has been posted all at once. If something's going to take me more than a couple of months to write, though, I post in little bits so I can get feedback. That keeps me going, and prevents me from giving up in despair.

    5. Holding back

    I've done that, too--in fact, I prefer to do that. I provides a "cushion" in case RL becomes invasive, and it allows for more editing time. I feel more confident about stuff I've posted if I've had a chance to set it aside for a while and come back to it. In my case, Darth RL was so evil that I ate up my five-chapter lead, and am now posting the same say I write. :[face_sigh]:

    6. Chapter titles

    I don't bother, mostly because I only ever come up with crappy titles. :p
     
  10. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2003
    1. Announcements in the thread title

    I normally post in the title that the story was updated and the date so people can just zoom on in and read.

    2. Preview posts

    I haven't had that much hype yet though I'll cross my fingers for my HUGE Jedi story.

    3. Reserved posts

    What i normally do after the story is finished is post it in it's entirity on fanfiction.net (I have the same name) so people can read it all


    4. Posting finished fics

    I like to veiw the story as a whole, what happens in the beginning relates to the ending and even though I am aching to start posting my Jedi Alliance fic I need to get it finished.


    5. Holding back

    I do it for pacing, stopping at a decisive point so they want more.


    6. Chapter titles

    Finding titles is hard enough before having a title for every chapter.

    and you have CHAPTERS? Mine is one big block!
     
  11. Idrelle_Miocovani

    Idrelle_Miocovani Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Hmmm... are Chapter Titles really that hard? :confused:

    That's when I get carried away and what was supposed to be a twelve chaptered story becomes a twenty-four chaptered story! :)
     
  12. Jesina_Dreis

    Jesina_Dreis Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Hmmm... are Chapter Titles really that hard? confused

    For some people, myself included. I have a lot of trouble coming up with regular story titles, and for chapters it's not AS hard, granted, because you're only talking about a few pages of events. But if you have a complex story with a lot of different things going on (Many of my chapters have two or three (or more) story lines) it gets very difficult.

    Jes
     
  13. Idrelle_Miocovani

    Idrelle_Miocovani Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2005
    True. You do have a point. But even with three storylines it is possible to tie them all up with one chapter title.
     
  14. lazykbys

    lazykbys Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 21, 2004
    I'm not sure how I'll end up posting what I write, but you've given me a lot to think about.

    Thanks for your input!
     
  15. Arin_Atona

    Arin_Atona Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 10, 2004
    1. Announcements in the thread title

    I used to do quite a bit of this... but now I've simplified to putting the date of the last update, and the post number.

    2. Preview posts

    Nope. Even if the first post doesn't contain any story, I get the story started within a few minutes.

    I've run across threads in the past that are just a "coming soon" announcement. Really annoying.

    3. Reserved posts

    Nah.

    4. Posting finished fics

    Heehee... Like I could wait that long?

    5. Holding back

    I did this initially. Then I ran into sections of my story that I kept going back and changing repeatedly, so I dropped that idea and just went post-by-post. It doesn't allow me to change things just because I feel like it, and can occasionally provide a challenge where previously I would have just gone back and changed a little detail.

    6. Chapter titles

    I write my stories in distinct movements (parts) that are a bit big to be called "chapters", but I do title them. I've received several compliments on how I can pare down everything in that part into a one or two word title, so it's something I intend to continue doing.
     
  16. Jesina_Dreis

    Jesina_Dreis Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2004
    [blockquote][link=http://boards.theforce.net/user.asp?usr=Idrelle_Miocovani]Idrelle_Miocovani[/link] posted on 2/7/05 1:45pm
    [hr][/blockquote]

    Yes, it still is. But for some people, it makes an already difficult task more complex.

    For example...my last chapter in one of my stories involved:
    - realization of a character's guilt
    - a near execution
    - a step for two characters into a relationship
    - the thoughts of two [i]other[/i] characters about an affair
    - one character thinking about all the major problems/threats that had arisen during their current mission

    I have NO idea how I could title that, other than something bland like "Complications" - and then with so many of my chapters coming out the same way, I get to the point where the ways I could tie it all together under one title have been used up.

    Jes>
     
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