Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

I got my start writing position papers and then later, under another penname, romance (both general and erotica) for Amazon, so the idea of webfiction is a bit new to me, beyond some fanfic.

But I've noticed that some authors post "by chapter" in that they wait until they have a full chapter finished then post it. Others post by section, where they might have several posts that make up one chapter--say, posting parts one through four of chapter five over the course of the week.

Which is most attractive to readers?  One big chunk or several smaller chunks that might leave you a bit confused about what is happening?

I've just got started here, so I honestly don't really know what would work best for the readership. 

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

When I read stories I prefer to read a chapter in its entirety. For me it's just a better reading experience. Posting by scene is mostly done so that material can be posted more frequently which is one way of getting more readers on Royal Road. If an author chooses that approach, that's their choice, but I find it makes for a more choppy reading experience.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

I’d say in general the preference leans towards shorter posts, which would imply spitting long-form chapters in some cases. However, I generally prefer the post to be cut off at a proper end point that feels like it should end there, so if you don’t have extra options for those within the chapter it might be better not to split the chapter. It really just depends on how it will effect the flow of reading your story, so it is not something that can simply be determined by length.

Those that split “[email protected] tend to have every post have a suitable end-point and then have the end of the chapter itself feel like the end of an arc or a more significant end-point of some kind.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

Having a target word count range helps to keep the chapter more focused, but I'd rather go over than under.

I once read a fiction that cut a single conversation into three chapter parts. Don't do that.

Sometimes, splitting a chapter is necessary, but you want to make sure that it's at the right moment. Ask yourself, "If this was a TV show, would this be a good point for a commercial break?" 

And don't start the second part with a cold opening. Give a paragraph or two to remind people of what's happening, and then pick up where you left off.

If you're updating daily or multiple times a week, it's a bit easier to get away with splitting chapters, but if it's once a week or less, try to avoid it.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

I try to stick to about 1500 words per chapter and keep them semi-episodic.  I'm morally adverse to authors that write their whole book without chapter breaks and then just break them up every X words.  In my opinion, chapters should be more than Mile Markers.. but that's another discussion.

Given that RR doesn't support any sort of mid-chapter bookmarking, I'd highly recommend keeping your updates (whether you call them chapters or sections is up to you) short enough that they can be consumed easily.  If someone has to stop reading your update halfway then they have to scan to find where they left off if their tab got closed.  Depending on the size of the update, that could be pretty annoying.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

In terms of length, I prefer chapters to be cut off where it feels natural. Scene changes, time skips, etc make for good points to consider moving to a new chapter. If you have a scene change or time-skip after only 500 words however, then a page-break would be preferable to a separate chapter for me. I think 800-1k words is probably the smallest chapter I prefer in my novels, though serials can be shorter because they tend to last much longer in the long run or be updated more frequently.

My own chapter length varies by novel. In one, my chapters are 5k-6k apiece, with 3k being the shortest.  In another, they tend to be 2k-3k apiece, with 1k being the shortest.

This isn't by design based on word count, but based on the feel of where it's appropriate to insert a visual break for the reader that interrupts the flow.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?


jaggreen582 Wrote: Which is most attractive to readers?  One big chunk or several smaller chunks that might leave you a bit confused about what is happening?

I've just got started here, so I honestly don't really know what would work best for the readership.
I'm actually surprised there is some controversy over this, so I'll temper what I say below with an "In My Opinion". Still, it'd take some pretty hard evidence to change my mind.

Without a good reason, chapters are better than chapter fragments. A lot better. There are three factors that you are looking at;

1) Every 'post' must have something happen.  It's extremely damaging whenever a reader clicks to the next chapter without a feeling that something happened. 

2) It takes energy to read a story. Nothing like writing it, of course, but still energy. I have 32 stories that I'm following at this moment. That is, 32 frequently updated novels, from multiple sites. Five to ten stories are "big enough" that it takes almost no energy to recall. The rest take actual effort to recall what has happened (in general as well as in the last chapter), get into the mindset of the next story, and mechanically get into the story. Yes yes, it seems trivial. It's really not trivial. Any story that uses chapter fragments is going to struggle - lower payoff for reading a fragment and thus higher energy expenditure for the payoff. Seriously, this is important! Authors writing episodic content need to have hooks in the start of every single chapter to remind the readers what the story is about! 

3) I'm calling scenes chapter fragments because they are chapter fragments (nearly) by definition. Fragmented reading is a terrible experience! A chapter is a natural encapsulation of plot. It's the natural way of dividing a collection of related events - that is, chapters are defined by the transition to something new. The reader will tend to pause between chapters (and certainly will in episodic writing) to absorb what they just experienced reading the story. That's not possible if you fragment the chapter. Even the last 'fragment' of a chapter won't do that because it's been too long since the first 'fragment' of that chapter. Again, a rather terrible reading experience.

Just to be clear - short chapters aren't 'scenes' or 'fragments'. They are just short. Separating a chapter that is 30,000 words (because why not have a novel-sized chapter) is not 'fragmenting' a chapter either. 

However, anything less than 1000 words is in fragment territory automatically. Even a short, action-packed, densely worded, and emotional chapter needs more than 1000 words to have meaningful impact on the author. Some exceptions can apply, but not here. Those exceptions are stylistic things - like two sentence horror - and not writing a typical story.

The top 5 stories on the site? Recent chapter word count: 5040, 5606, 3312, 4824, 3514. Take something like Wheel Of Time -, or if you want a broader look, here's a cross section of fantasy novels. The top stories here are not that different than published stories in terms of words per chapter. 

It takes a certain amount of words to describe things, to advance the plot, to have meaningful dialogue, and connect narrative elements. That number is a minimum 3000 or so words. Episodic writers get away with less because there is already a hard break at the end of each chapter. However, 'getting away' is not the same as 'the ideal length'. 

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

I’ll have you know, the chapters of the Wandering Inn are basically 10k+ to 20k+ words and they do fine. They do brilliantly. So as before the decision of whether to split or not is exclusively one of how it will effect the flow and experience of the story, and with some stories the feeling of “turning the page” that the next chapter button gives is beneficial, while in others you’re so engrossed any interruption detracts from the experience.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

You can certainly write however you want to write, but in the end, the work will be posted as a series of chapters. That's how the system is set up here - by chapter headers. - You know, like books. Personally, I do not see why someone needs to post up material until they have a full chapters worth to show, especially since there is a feature for holding and developing unposted material (Drafts, like most sites do) while a writer completes enough work to show publicly. Up to you. Guess what I am saying is take all the time you need to develop your novel. For artistic and pace reasons, some chapters may well be shorter or longer. May contain multiple scenes or scene breaks. My feedback here has been that readers on this site generally like to see more substantial chapters, but the length of each must serve the story. - Doesn't work the other way round. If you mean to ask whether single chapters or multiple chapters  should be posted each time you post, Id only note that each post "refreshes" your entry listing in the initial docket, I.E, boosts its  shown position in the new works queue, so posting more often equals more initial exposure - places it higher on the billboard of new releases. So frequency of update is perhaps the more important consideration initially, but probably shouldn't be attempted at the expense of the readers sense of story flow. If you want to bastardize the posting method used here, and rewrite the headers as, dunno, "Episodes" or something, or are putting up an anthology of titled short stories, you certainly can do that.

Re: Posting by chapter or scene?

You know, it strikes me that this might be a perception thing--I got my start in romance (print) and often a chapter would incorporate several scenes with more or less "complete" arcs within the scene. Looking at some of the writers here, I get the feeling that what they might consider a chapter would be considered a scene in printed works, likely due to the fact that obviously, as an ebook or print book, you're getting the entire story at one purchase.  

Bit of a learning experience here. :)