How can I encourage more discussion on my stories?
So I started posting my story on here a few days ago. It's been growing at a steady rate, no big numbers or anything, but I'm mostly happy that I'm actually growing.
The big problem, however, is that I seem to have very little discussion. People will usually follow my story, but very few of them bother to actually comment or leave a review.
I'm just wondering, is there any real way to encourage people to comment more on my story?
That requires some planning ahead before writing the story, and you can't simply make the story up as you write - but it has caused several discussions about the hints already
You can check "The General Core" for that.
However, your biggest problem is that your story is not yet big enough. From what I learned around here, most stories have to get to 100 pages before people show increased interest in it. I handle it the same - if I see an interesting story/synopsis, I mark it for read-later but only read it when it has grown to a certain point or if I have a lot of free time.
And once a month or so I check through my "read later" collection and remove everything unread that is already in a 3-month-hiatus when shorter than 100 pages.
That is because too many stories don't get longer before the writer abandoning them, and I don't want to spent time on stories just to have them abandoned before they even start. And I suspect that a lot of other readers have similiar limits, exactly because there are so many new hobby-writers posting on RoyalRoad.
Still, I want to emphasize, that new stories usually don't make people discuss that much. They read the parts and find it interesting or not and then move on. Because there are plenty of stories that start off interesting and most of the basic questions a reader might have about the world will be answered within the first few chapters.
Then it comes all down whether your story has something worth talking about. This has more to do with story-structure and gimmicks than with quality. If you're, for example, one of the many authors here that write fantay gamelit/litRPG (like me), it makes a difference, whether you start with the typical introduction in this world, or if you immediately can showcase specific differences between most stories (like how in my story, the heroes can change classes mid-fight which already caused people to ask questions early, as they tried to figure out how this will work with what they know of games/other stories).
Of course, it can be also be helpful to have polarizing characters. If the MC is outside the OP-edge-lord or nerdy, but capable nice-guy, readers feel how there is something different about the MC, but they will comment about it, if they find a fault, flaw, or something to make fun of. This comes with the risk of having your story bashed by several people from the start and having several bad ratings based on the personality of the characters, rather than the implementation of those, but it brings people to talk about your story and later, they'll converse a lot every time a tiny detail is revealed or if they notice how the characters are challenging themselves by trying to not suck that hard. :D
But that takes either some guts or the philosophy that you write for yourself and share the story so that others can enjoy it, rather than trying to get attention and admiration. :3
You can usually also ask people for comments, especially on certain parts. Maybe with a leading question, like "What was your favorite joke this chapter?". Some readers have some decency and actually read the author's notes. ^^
Also, posting chapters more often makes it easier to comment for readers, as it has more the structure of a dialogue and the readers feel like they're in a continuous process and that makes them feel important and being taken seriously. Posting once a week isn't enough for this effect to happen.
It's also important to consider how the chapter ends and how many big eye-catcher scenes there are. Because if the chapter has so much going on, then it's hard for readers to decide which one they want to comment. The last read part is also the easiest one to comment, so if it's boring or usual happiness, there is not that much to talk about.
But even if you do all that, many readers won't comment. Maybe 1% if you're lucky. Honor every "Thanks for the chapter" and every other person that makes a comment (unless it's insulting, then report that). Some of them you might not like, but you can still tell yourself: They don't see your ingenuity. :P
You don't necessarily need to ask what people want to see next, or let them form the story (unless that's your thing) - but it can be helpful to specifically ask your readers what they think about "this or that" that you did in this chapter, or what their theories are about the ramifications of what just happened.
There's also a lot to be said for length, as has been pointed out. The more readers, and the more time folks spend returning to a particular story, the more opportunities those readers have to choose to share their thoughts.