Last week we went into a lot of depth about Starting a Web Serial, including some of the best practices for putting out a good first chapter. One of these practices was outlining, or preparing a bullet point of where you want the story to go beforehand. Since we also mentioned this in our Guide to Updating Chapters, we won’t go into much detail here, but we want to reiterate that outlining, as well as buffering, are two very effective strategies for keeping a serial going strong.
Now, problems will arise as you continue your serial, from losing readership at odd intervals, to writer’s block, to discovering plot holes or continuity issues in your first act while heading into the third, and so on. Here, we’ll discuss a few popular ideas for overcoming these hardships and keeping your serial going strong.
I’m Losing Readership. What Went Wrong?
This is a timely topic, as one of our authors, Aden Ng of 139 Years to the End of the World, recently wrote a blog about losing readers and what it feels like from an author’s perspective. As he describes, authors who publish their work may feel somewhat betrayed when no one reads it. There are indeed a few authors on JukePop that have stopped updating their chapters due to a lack of readership. However, as Aden also mentions, stopping a serial for that reason only hurts the few readers that the serial may have had. Moreover, writers who love their story don’t stop writing it–ever.
Here’s the deal: readership is always on the decline. This is what the typical analytics chart looks like for a relatively new JukePop serial:
This is not a bad thing. Readers who are perusing for a good story won’t want to read every story to the end. This trend occurs in television shows and comic book series as well; the series will have a large starting audience, then trim down to a hardcore audience at the end. How many readers you can bring in for every chapter is therefore not the best measure of quality. Don’t forget that the trend is also a snap shot in time, and you can affect the trend by going back and editing chapters where you lost some reader’s votes.
Nothing’s wrong with your serial if it loses readership. Just keep writing and keep promoting it to old readers and new–that’s what successful authors do.
I Have Writer’s Block! What do I do!?
Yikes. The Big WB. We’re sorry to say it, but if you haven’t written that new chapter yet, it’s probably game over for this week.
Of course, things would have gone much easier had you followed our guides to updating chapters in those weeks before you acquired writer’s block. You’d have had an outline to copy/paste, or perhaps won a week off thanks to a buffer.
But if you haven’t done any of that, just write. Write crappy, nonsensical prose, and get that chapter–and that writers’ block–out of your system.
How do I Deal with Continuity Issues or Plot Holes?
From time to time you will make a mistake while writing your serial. You’ll have a character wearing a green shirt when he specifically put on a red one in the chapter before. You’ll have the villain reveal something he clearly shouldn’t have known. You may even give characters living in a futuristic world no means of long-distance communication. These incidents can be scary, frustrating, and may make you go a little paranoid wondering what else you missed.
There’s no point worrying about the stuff you missed or messed up on. Sure, we at JukePop allow authors to edit chapters, and you can also do so freely on your personal blog. But aside from cleaning up the most obvious plot holes, why bother cleaning up anything else? The web serial is a messy first draft that’s bound to get edited if you reach completion and/or choose to novelize it. If your readership sticks with you despite those errors, are the errors really so bad?
Next week we’ll talk about the big one: how to finish your serial. In the meantime, what issues do you run into while publishing your serial? How do you overcome it?