Re: Webnovels

#1
So I've noticed something that has been bothering me since I've been reading and writing stories on RoyalRoad and a couple of other sites (though it's more apparent here simply due to the larger base of readers that leave comments/reviews).

The whole thing with webnovels is that you are reading the book as it is being written in real-time right? 

I've noticed that there are a lot of comments and low-ratings attributed to chapters that appear to have 'plot-holes', which are simply due to the webnovel format.

For instance, the most common thing I've noticed will be a review or comment with something along the lines of "this chapter is bad because you don't explain X or there isn't an appropriate reaction to Y". A couple of chapters later, the author explains X or the reasons why a character reacted the way it did to Y, but the comment / rating / reviewer never gets that far.

In a typical book, I feel like this isn't usually a problem since people will continue reading. But in a webnovel you have time to go back and re-read a chapter or really think about the things that don't make a lot of sense yet

I'm just curious what people think about this and how they combat this type of thing in their writing.

Re: Webnovels

#2
That’s a good point. I myself have never gotten feedback like that on my serialized work, but I’ve been using different sites to post on. I feel like most readers who really care about the story are willing to engage in enough critical thinking to know when they need to wait and see if something is addressed later in the story. 

Re: Webnovels

#6
I'm on the other side of the fence here.  Let's say you suddenly have blue floating screens pop-up in front of the protagonist and the rest of the human race with no explained precedent for it before.  Let's further say that the protagonist just ignores these floating screens and the entirety of the human race ignores them as well.  They can see them, but they just don't interact with them.  They can, but they don't.

You then owe the reader an explanation on WHY.  It doesn't matter if you are going to explain the answer in chapter 500.  I'm not going to read to chapter 500 because I have an incredible failure of logic on chapter 1.  It is the author's responsibility to answer the reader's questions as the reader asks them.  It's what makes writing so hard.  You have to be a mind reader.  

It's one of the axioms of writing.  "The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense"

Here's my example of closing that massive plot hole.  It's really simple actually and I can do it in maybe a single sentence.  


Quote:The human race was fully aware of the blue screens themselves, but for reasons unknown to them, they were unable to process reactions to them.  


There, plot hole closed.  I talked about this in another thread.  About how the reader and the PoV character should have shared knowledge.  If the PoV knows something relevant to the current situation, even if that information is "I don't know why it happens." then it's the author's job to share it with the reader.  

The whole point here is that you're telling the reader, "yes I know something is odd here.  It's not a plot hole, it's part of the story.  Hold on and I'll explain later." without actually saying that.  Because if you don't address it, the reader thinks you are just writing so fast you don't even realize how terrible everything comes off as.  

Re: Webnovels

#7

DarkD Wrote: I'm on the other side of the fence here.  Let's say you suddenly have blue floating screens pop-up in front of the protagonist and the rest of the human race with no explained precedent for it before.  Let's further say that the protagonist just ignores these floating screens and the entirety of the human race ignores them as well.  They can see them, but they just don't interact with them.  They can, but they don't.

You then owe the reader an explanation on WHY.  It doesn't matter if you are going to explain the answer in chapter 500.  I'm not going to read to chapter 500 because I have an incredible failure of logic on chapter 1.  It is the author's responsibility to answer the reader's questions as the reader asks them.  It's what makes writing so hard.  You have to be a mind reader.  

It's one of the axioms of writing.  "The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense"

Here's my example of closing that massive plot hole.  It's really simple actually and I can do it in maybe a single sentence.  

Quote:The human race was fully aware of the blue screens themselves, but for reasons unknown to them, they were unable to process reactions to them.  

There, plot hole closed.  I talked about this in another thread.  About how the reader and the PoV character should have shared knowledge.  If the PoV knows something relevant to the current situation, even if that information is "I don't know why it happens." then it's the author's job to share it with the reader.  

The whole point here is that you're telling the reader, "yes I know something is odd here.  It's not a plot hole, it's part of the story.  Hold on and I'll explain later." without actually saying that.  Because if you don't address it, the reader thinks you are just writing so fast you don't even realize how terrible everything comes off as.


In my opinion, that's pretty damn arrogant. "The author OWES me an explanation!! Not answering my question right here is a MISTAKE by the author!!" 

It's putting yourself on a pedestal of The One Who Knows Best. In my experience, when important details are missing, it's often done by the author on purpose. Uncovering mysteries and resolving paradoxes is often used to make the story more interesting, tie it together better at a later date. You don't have a right to all information at once. 

Self-proclaimed Plot Hole Detective™ readers seem to get some weird pleasure from looking over fictions with a microscope, searching for the tiniest inconsistencies in order to be able to cry wolf "PLOT HOLE, PLOT HOLE!!! EVERYBODY LOOK I FOUND A PLOT HOLE D:<". And if they don't get their way, they will leave a 1-star review about the "non-adressed glaring plot-hole". I think that's kinda obnoxious. Sure, sometimes it's something the author missed or forgot about, but that's pretty rare.

And also, tell me, is Lord of the Rings a 1-star story or a 1-star fiction because maybe Gandalf could've flown his eagles over Mordor and thrown the ring in? Of course not. I don't care about such "plot holes" at all, and neither does the average reader. It doesn't make the story any worse AT ALL

I think, @op that you can usually ignore such comments. If they say something you haven't thought about, sure, adress it in a chapter soon, but giving the commenters too much power makes it go to their head. They will start requesting more and more control over the story if you listen and change every single tiny thing they mention

Re: Webnovels

#8
I mean, there isn't much you can do about this.

As a writer, you can't just drop answers earlier than intended sometimes. Usually if I leave something I know is unexplained, I write in the author's comments that I do acknowledge it and that an explanation is coming. That's all I can do.

Re: Webnovels

#9
Pretty sure you didn't read my entire post if that's your opinion.  Because I clearly stated, sometimes the only explanation required is "I don't know why it happens."  Just to let the readers know this isn't some massive mistake the author is going to keep digging. 

Calling it arrogance is the same as calling a job interviewer arrogant because he threw your resume in the trash because he found a typo.  You want the job, fix your damn spelling.  

And no, not every plot hole is fatal.  Maybe Tolkien could have explained at one point "they have 'creature a' that would destroy the eagles" and it would have been slightly better.  But yes, having one line in the fiction just saying "yes I'm aware of the problem" is enough.  

Here's a quote from a fiction writing website, "If a plot hole is so glaring that it takes the viewer out of the story, breaking the suspension of disbelief and causing harm to the enjoyment of the narrative, most people would say it matters. If a minor discrepancy in the plot doesn't break enjoyment of the film, to the average audience member it's no big deal."

Re: Webnovels

#10

DarkD Wrote: Pretty sure you didn't read my entire post if that's your opinion.  Because I clearly stated, sometimes the only explanation required is "I don't know why it happens."  Just to let the readers know this isn't some massive mistake the author is going to keep digging. 

Calling it arrogance is the same as calling a job interviewer arrogant because he threw your resume in the trash because he found a typo.  You want the job, fix your damn spelling.

No, it's like you getting gifted a free hot-dog from a stall on the street and then yelling that it has too much mustard and it's not to your liking. When maybe he's making a recipe that doesn't have mustard on purpose. It's imposing your worldview as it's the objective truth.

Saying it's like a job interview is telling, it's putting the author in a position where they're trying desperately to impress you and you, the reader, in the position of power, as the Judge of what is good writing and what isn't. But the reality is the opposite. They're the ones who are actually creating something and choosing to gift it away for free. Giving your opinion is, of course, fine, but complaining and requesting changes is definitely arrogant. The average reader is a consumer, not an esteemed critic / connoisseur. 

I'll stop typing now, this isn't the Debate forum

Re: Webnovels

#11
Web novels are works intentionally posted and writ for the W.W.W.  Usually writ as serials. Here, often to post LitRPG's or Isikai features, though that is only in the main, and several works here range across many genres, topics, and formats, such as novel, serial, novella, short stories, etc. Usually it is recommended that a writer prepare more material than he/she  puts up at any one time, to have a backlog available so as to ensure some schedule of release can be maintained without pressure. Some do and some don't, it is a suggestion, not a rule. This suggests that the content is actually not written live online by most. 

The public comment areas that are part of the RR structure within chapters are for member use to chat with the author on the material at hand, post critique, and offer suggestions. The author can respond directly to the commenter using this feature, and the resulting conversations are visible on the author dashboard page column-ized as well as at the bottom of each chapter. The author can decide to make these comments invisible to other readers, or even prohibit the use of comment areas as he/she chooses.

Many are thankful for the feedback, and happy to invite other eyes to pick up errata, as it saves them personal effort and time, and provides a sense of who the audience is, and whether they are meeting that audiences expectations, and ideas for possible revision.  Others are thin skinned, and feel attacked by reader feedback (unfortunately, and not to their benefit)  However, as the feature can be disabled, that is entirely left up to the author to avail himself/herself of, unlike reviews which will get posted regardless of the authors feelings about them, cannot be removed by the author and will go forward whether the author was able to take advantage of the improvements, alternatives, and suggestions as might have come up in the comments prior or not.

Re: Webnovels

#12

AGUX Wrote: I've noticed will be a review or comment with something along the lines of "this chapter is bad because you don't explain X or there isn't an appropriate reaction to Y". A couple of chapters later, the author explains X or the reasons why a character reacted the way it did to Y, but the comment / rating / reviewer never gets that far.

In a typical book, I feel like this isn't usually a problem since people will continue reading. But in a webnovel you have time to go back and re-read a chapter or really think about the things that don't make a lot of sense yet.

Often, it can be only due to the plot holes being pointed out that they can then be addressed. It's easy to forget details when you're writing a long story and not looking back. 


I love my critical commenters. My stories would be much weaker without their input. :)

Re: Webnovels

#13
Maybe it has to do with how they're presented? Are they plot holes, or are they questions that haven't been answered yet? Can you write the questions in such a way that the reader will be eager to continue reading to learn more, rather than annoyed that the answers haven't already been presented?

I make clear from the very first chapter that there are secrets the reader doesn't know yet. I just finished writing Book 3 (not yet fully posted here yet), and some of those questions still haven't been answered, but nobody's ever complained about it so far. They like to speculate, and sometimes they're extremely eager to get the answers, but they don't complain about the questions. The story was designed as a slow burn, with the answers gradually revealed both to the characters and the readers.

Of course, they still complain about other things. I got a complaint once that a chapter ended on a cliffhanger, and I didn't know how to even begin to process that. Does that reader even understand the purpose of a cliffhanger? (not to mention the fact that the chapter would have been way too long if I'd combined it with the resolution of the cliffhanger)

Re: Webnovels

#15
I think a huge benefit of web novels is overlooked here:

Yes, your readers may occasionally angrily (or, indeed, gently or dispassionately) point out plot holes or continuity errors.

But, unlike irl novels, we get to respond, either to say "haha! Yeah, thanks for pointing that out; I'll fix it!" or "Don't worry - all will be explained in the next chapter".

This is something amazing about the medium - that the novel unfurls in real time for the reader (not unlike Dickens writing for the Strand magazine, one chapter at a time); but also that the author gets to engage in a dialogue with the readers about everything in the ongoing narrative, from the motivations of the characters to the spelling mistakes to, yes, the apparent plot holes.

And I think that this engagement makes a reader less likely to abandon a fiction if the author responds openly and constructively with the feedback.

That said, the same two-way dialogue can also lead web fiction in a bad direction.  Demands from noisy readers can push an author into trading a narrative in a direction that is popular rather than in one that is effective.  Imagine if Dickens's readers had demanded that Pip and Estella
Spoiler :
fall in love and get married
, or of JRRT that Boromir survive.  The stories might have been more popular with the contemporary audience, but they would lose big parts of what they were supposed to be about.

I guess I mean to say: welcome your audience feedback and acknowledge it, but don't let it compromise the message of the story.

Re: Webnovels

#17
I don't combat nothin'! 

Often critical comments are completely wrong. You just say okay, thank you, and move on. If a reader likes the story, they're not going to quit it. People who quit a story whatever excuse, they'll just find another excuse later. Most of it is incredibly subjective. You'd be surprised. All stories are flawed. You know, like how Frodo and Sam hopped on the back of that eagle and dumped the ring into Mount Doom? Flawed like that. I still love Lord of the Rings despite it's flaws.

Re: Webnovels

#18

DarkD Wrote: I'm on the other side of the fence here.  Let's say you suddenly have blue floating screens pop-up in front of the protagonist and the rest of the human race with no explained precedent for it before.  Let's further say that the protagonist just ignores these floating screens and the entirety of the human race ignores them as well.  They can see them, but they just don't interact with them.  They can, but they don't.

You then owe the reader an explanation on WHY.  It doesn't matter if you are going to explain the answer in chapter 500.  I'm not going to read to chapter 500 because I have an incredible failure of logic on chapter 1.  It is the author's responsibility to answer the reader's questions as the reader asks them.  It's what makes writing so hard.  You have to be a mind reader.  

It's one of the axioms of writing.  "The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense"

Here's my example of closing that massive plot hole.  It's really simple actually and I can do it in maybe a single sentence.  


Quote:The human race was fully aware of the blue screens themselves, but for reasons unknown to them, they were unable to process reactions to them.  


There, plot hole closed.  I talked about this in another thread.  About how the reader and the PoV character should have shared knowledge.  If the PoV knows something relevant to the current situation, even if that information is "I don't know why it happens." then it's the author's job to share it with the reader.  

The whole point here is that you're telling the reader, "yes I know something is odd here.  It's not a plot hole, it's part of the story.  Hold on and I'll explain later." without actually saying that.  Because if you don't address it, the reader thinks you are just writing so fast you don't even realize how terrible everything comes off as.



While I don't disagree, it sounds like what you're referring to is bad writing, rather than simply a plot hole. There's overlap, of course, But I don't think the OP was referring to stuff like this, breaking the rules of the author's own narrative due to lack of planning. I took OP's post to refer to questions that the narrative doesn't address until much later in the story. Just because something isn't answered immediately doesn't mean it's a plot hole. I agree 100% that if a story took place in Victorian England and a character randomly mentioned the Internet without any mention from the narrative itself that this is a thing, then that would just be poor writing. But if, say, a character was transported to the future by some phenomenon, and we aren't told immediately what caused the phenomenon but the character is baffled by it and is trying to cope and adjust, then that's just a question to be answered later.

I'm not sure how often Royal Road (and other web serial) commenters complain about this sort of problem, but I imagine that the issue is two-fold. One is that there seems to be less of a natural continuation of one's reading experience. It's hard to explain, but one has to decide if they want to continue to the next e-chapter sort of like continuing to the next episode of a TV series. There's sort of a disconnect to them, a start of a brand new "event" (a chapter, an episode). With a book, not so much. It's more of a narrative break, an excuse for you to put the book down for a few. I REALLY can't explain it, but there's more of a natural flow reading the next chapter of a physical book than there is clicking on Next Chapter on Royal Road, as if you were instead engaging in a new activity. I can't explain it, as I said, and I doubt it even makes sense.

The other issue is that I think web readers want questions to be answered quicker because there's an expectation that the story will end soon. Imagine you're reading a story, and you're at the last posted chapter, or at least coming up on it. Is this it? Is there gonna be more? Is this coming to the end? If not, will this story be abandoned as so many web novels are? The reader wants the questions answered because even if they're only 7 chapters in, who knows if the story will make it to the end? With a book, the story is complete. You're literally holding the book in your hands. It's not like the pages are gonna set themselves on fire because, somewhere out there, the author got bored.

I'm partially curious if naming the chapters in a season/episode or volume/issue format would solve or exacerbate it. I plan to do that for my story. Would having a Season/Episode plus Episode Title inform the reader that there's more to come and this wasn't a self-contained story? Curious. Or maybe it would do nothing, and the issue is readers on the Internet being impatient and demanding instant gratification. I know a lot of people demand everything to be thrown at them immediately. I remember someone complaining about the IDW run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because the Shredder didn't debut until issue #7 or something and he was getting impatient. It was clearly a slow burn series (still is, somewhere around the issue 110-120 mark right now), but boy it's a near impossible challenge for an author to hook a reader like that.

Someone mentioned that the best thing that authors could do when addressing the problems of writing under this relatively new medium is to use its strengths. You can directly engage with your audience with every chapter, and can address those comments. "A plot hole? Or an unanswered question? I see you're interested in how [insert plot-related issue the commenter brought up]. Keep reading and maybe things will become clearer."

Re: Webnovels

#19

TienSwitch Wrote: While I don't disagree, it sounds like what you're referring to is bad writing, rather than simply a plot hole. There's overlap, of course, But I don't think the OP was referring to stuff like this, breaking the rules of the author's own narrative due to lack of planning. I took OP's post to refer to questions that the narrative doesn't address until much later in the story. Just because something isn't answered immediately doesn't mean it's a plot hole. I agree 100% that if a story took place in Victorian England and a character randomly mentioned the Internet without any mention from the narrative itself that this is a thing, then that would just be poor writing. But if, say, a character was transported to the future by some phenomenon, and we aren't told immediately what caused the phenomenon but the character is baffled by it and is trying to cope and adjust, then that's just a question to be answered later.



I expanded on his complaint a little.  Because I completely disagree that many of the reviewers complaints are "questions to be asked later".  Maybe they were too harsh with their ratings.  Maybe they couldn't explain exactly why they had a problem.  Maybe they just worded it horribly.  I don't believe for a second any of them are asking for a spoiler.  

What I had explained was an extremely common problem writers have that causes authors to think the reader is requesting a spoiler.  People don't realize how finicky this stuff is. 

And in your example, the fact that he's "baffled by his experience" is already, as others have put it, "hanging a lantern on it" as I recommended.  Which is all I ask for but authors continue to think they are being asked to give away the plot.  No, just have your character admit to being as confused as the reader is.  

Re: Webnovels

#20

AGUX Wrote: So I've noticed something that has been bothering me since I've been reading and writing stories on RoyalRoad and a couple of other sites (though it's more apparent here simply due to the larger base of readers that leave comments/reviews).

The whole thing with webnovels is that you are reading the book as it is being written in real-time right? 

I've noticed that there are a lot of comments and low-ratings attributed to chapters that appear to have 'plot-holes', which are simply due to the webnovel format.

For instance, the most common thing I've noticed will be a review or comment with something along the lines of "this chapter is bad because you don't explain X or there isn't an appropriate reaction to Y". A couple of chapters later, the author explains X or the reasons why a character reacted the way it did to Y, but the comment / rating / reviewer never gets that far.

In a typical book, I feel like this isn't usually a problem since people will continue reading. But in a webnovel you have time to go back and re-read a chapter or really think about the things that don't make a lot of sense yet

I'm just curious what people think about this and how they combat this type of thing in their writing.



Great point. Which is why I almost never base my review on the plot itself. I feel story telling is kind of separate from plot. Two people can tell you the same story in two diametrically opposite way. People tend to confuse that. I always focus on the writing and story telling rather than the plot elements, unless ofc there is a huuuuuge glaring hole in the plot that brings down the writing itself.
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