Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#1
It seems like the first 10 chapters basically decide a litrpg's future potential? Like all the most popular ones on royalroad were all taking off very early and very fast with nearly exclusively 4.5 or 5 ratings and within the top 200 in a week or two. 

That said what's the general setup for a super popular novel's first 10 chapters? Is it like this?

Chapters 1-2. MC gets transported to a new world and acclimates. This section's interestingness level can make or break the novel. Needs to have some kind of hook. 

Chapters 3-6. MC does some progression stuff. Small payoffs. Testing the system. 

Chapter 7-10. First big payoff. 

This way dangling each payoff is basically encouraging the reader to "just one more chapter" it all the way until they're fully invested in the story. That takes care of the 4.5-5 ratings because everyone loves the payoffs. 

Then the second part is shaping chapters 1-10 to not offend or anger anyone. Since negative reviews have extra weight on royalroad, gotta be really really careful about angering anyone. This is basically an art form that I kind of suck at. This is the part that's hardest because readers have their own biases and sometimes as a reader I'm kind of blown away that something that I'd consider story-damning turned out not to be (like in primal hunter's first 10 chapters, the main character is basically socially autistic) and (lots of pov or sidestories like melody of mana, royalroad HATES non-mc pov). 

TL;DR

1. How to write those dopamine payoffs so you get excited 4.5-5 ratings?

2. How do you avoid offending/angering your readers to avoid the 4.0 or lower ratings?
-------

Asking this because my story just bombed from 4.67 to 4.1 rating and I'm a very realistic person, I know that honestly it's very hard to recover from there (im fairly certain that popular novels never ever touch 4.1 in their first two weeks), so I'm trying to figure out if the first 10 chapters just didn't have enough dopamine hits to make it worthwhile for the reader. Trying to learn some lessons so that the next story would do it right. It sucks to know that a story bombed after a lot of care planning it but hey that's life. 

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#2
Excuse me for a moment while I laugh at the thought of not offending/angering readers.

Your story is doing well in terms of readership, particularly given the age.  I think maybe you're somewhat confused about what you should be doing, because fundamentally the problem here is, if you're just trying to mimic what the most successful stories get right in the first ten chapters, you're going to have some trouble when it comes time to write chapter 11.

I've watched a whole lot of stories hit trending and then the author just gives up on writing them.  Is your motivation to write a story which is top-rated in the first ten chapters?  What is your motivation once you succeed at that?

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#3

AdirianSoan Wrote: Excuse me for a moment while I laugh at the thought of not offending/angering readers.

Your story is doing well in terms of readership, particularly given the age.  I think maybe you're somewhat confused about what you should be doing, because fundamentally the problem here is, if you're just trying to mimic what the most successful stories get right in the first ten chapters, you're going to have some trouble when it comes time to write chapter 11.

I've watched a whole lot of stories hit trending and then the author just gives up on writing them.  Is your motivation to write a story which is top-rated in the first ten chapters?  What is your motivation once you succeed at that?



My meaning is that once readers are hooked and the story has already had high points, readers are more likely to forgive some slow chapters and less-exciting chapters. At least that's how I feel as a reader. For example when I was reading primal hunter I was already hooked to the point that the author could post 10 chapters in a row about cultivating mushrooms and I'd still read it. But if the first 10 chapters are just cultivating mushrooms without payoff everyone would drop it. 

So the first 10 each chapter needs to be like A+ tier, and then everything after that can be more chill and relaxed pacing wise. You can afford to have a few lazy river chapters to set up for something big later. 

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#4
The trick there is to write ten chapters about cultivating mushrooms which readers want to read, as opposed to filler which they tolerate while they wait for something they actually want to read about to happen.

Also, just because a long-running serial has an excellent first ten chapters now, doesn't mean it had an excellent first ten chapters when readers started reading it.  Authors do edit their stories; sometimes because they set out to do it, sometimes because they go back to try to find a detail that hasn't mattered in a while, and just see stuff that is no longer up to their current standard.  Or they got successful enough that enough people were reading them that they got the feedback to really polish their first few chapters.

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#7
LitRPG stories do get a headstart if they're decent. A testament to that is mine, which got around 800 Followers in the first 2 weeks and has remained there for a while. And even then, I am fairly sure it's not a read that many people stick with because the world is quite frankly... shit. Not in the sense that things don't make sense or inconsistencies, but because it's, well, objectively shitty to live in. Things almost never happen as expected, people are mostly assholes and even the MC is more or less of an asshole.

That, and the MC isn't catering to a power fantasy.

So if I managed to get a decent fanbase even with that much of a detriment, you don't really have to worry about offending people. Sure, people are gonna hate. Some people send death threats to people because they included slavery in their stories. Some get a lot of shit because they've depicted religion in one way or another. My advice to you is stop caring about it and write the story if you like writing it. If you don't like it, it becomes a chore and you constantly check statistics. On the other hand, if you like it, then... well, you won't really care much about the lack of views and followers and negative feedback and whatnot.

Unless it's a total flop that only has like 10 views, you're doing well. In retrospect, compared to the "popular" authors, a 100 may not be a lot but just think about it as people you know in real life. Do you know a hundred people? If you do, you know a lot. That many people are reading your story and enjoying it. So if that number feels like a lot, you're doing just alright.

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#8
HereBeTreasure, I understand the reason for you trying to break down the recipe for sucess here. I think all of us, who work hard to craft a good story, want to see that story enjoyed by people. We want success, because that success reflects onto how we see the worth of our own creativity.

However, I feel this is a hacking at the branches of the problem situation. Instead, I feel we should look more closely at the roots of what makes stories successful.

No story that is popular got there by chasing trends, or a strict formula. Whilst it's short sighted to say that many people don't at least try to emulate success they see in other works, that is a small portion of their creative desire. It doesn't fill the pages, and it doesn't push them to keep creating every week.

Every story that has seen success, has done so because the writer committed to a story they wanted to tell. They worked on themselves, and their craft, and put a story out there that they wanted to see.

Instead of trying to break down the building blocks of success, pull this focus inward. Ask yourself: What do you want to create? What makes you excited about a story? What kind of adventure, characters, or challenges do you want to see in a story?

The best, absolute best, feeling a reader can have when reading a story is to be taken in by the writers passion and vision. I think that's where you need to start.

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#9

Quote:1. How to write those dopamine payoffs so you get excited 4.5-5 ratings?

2. How do you avoid offending/angering your readers to avoid the 4.0 or lower ratings?



1. The overarching genre of litrpg, cultivation, etcetera is progression fantasy. Progression fantasy readers want to see progress. There are two types of progression beats you want to hit. The first is the incremental, constant sense of progress, aka hard work. The second is the cathartic leap in progress which feels earned after experiencing the aforementioned hard work of the protagonist. 

2. Don't take away the MC's autonomy. It makes people angry. One of my fic's MC was enslaved, and my rating dropped from 4.6 to 4.3. 

Loss of autonomy can be felt even without something as substantive as being enslaved. For example, the reason why party fics are far less popular than lone wolf fics is purely because groups tend to have drama and friction, usually resulting in concessions being made to ensure the unity of the group. This compromise feels like a loss of autonomy, even when it's not really one. It's not enough to bring your rating below a 4 star, of course. However, if taken to the extreme-- returning to the slavery point in regards to loss of autonomy-- such as with mind control or even torture, then a certain proportion of readers will be very upset and react with a 0.5 star.

Now to be clear

While I have answered both your questions, I do not believe that adhering to both of these will result in a successful fiction. The most popular fic on RR is Beware of Chicken which is a Slice of Life novel with a party dynamic. You do not have to write either of what you've laid out to create a successful fic. At most, you can maximize your chance of success. But at the end of the day, it's all chance and probability. 

If Beware of Chicken was written a year ago or a year from now, I do not believe it would be as successful as it currently is. Similarly with He Who Fights with Monsters, Azarinth Healer, and Primal Hunter. Even Mother of Learning. If it made the migration from FictionPress to RR a year too late or too early, I don't think it'll be #1 rated on RR as it is right now. 

It's all luck. If your fic isn't a top rated story, that doesn't mean it's bad. If your fic has below 3 stars, that doesn't meant it's terrible. If your fic has 10 followers, that doesn't mean your story concept is unappealing. It just means you drew the short end of the stick. 

But even if that happens, you shouldn't give up. Finish your book, publish it online, or pitch it to a publisher if you'd rather not self-publish. Then start a new project, and hope you will be the one who wins the lottery this time around. 

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#10

MelasD Wrote:
Quote:1. How to write those dopamine payoffs so you get excited 4.5-5 ratings?

2. How do you avoid offending/angering your readers to avoid the 4.0 or lower ratings?



1. The overarching genre of litrpg, cultivation, etcetera is progression fantasy. Progression fantasy readers want to see progress. There are two types of progression beats you want to hit. The first is the incremental, constant sense of progress, aka hard work. The second is the cathartic leap in progress which feels earned after experiencing the aforementioned hard work of the protagonist. 

2. Don't take away the MC's autonomy. It makes people angry. One of my fic's MC was enslaved, and my rating dropped from 4.6 to 4.3. 

Loss of autonomy can be felt even without something as substantive as being enslaved. For example, the reason why party fics are far less popular than lone wolf fics is purely because groups tend to have drama and friction, usually resulting in concessions being made to ensure the unity of the group. This compromise feels like a loss of autonomy, even when it's not really one. It's not enough to bring your rating below a 4 star, of course. However, if taken to the extreme-- returning to the slavery point in regards to loss of autonomy-- such as with mind control or even torture, then a certain proportion of readers will be very upset and react with a 0.5 star.

Now to be clear

While I have answered both your questions, I do not believe that adhering to both of these will result in a successful fiction. The most popular fic on RR is Beware of Chicken which is a Slice of Life novel with a party dynamic. You do not have to write either of what you've laid out to create a successful fic. At most, you can maximize your chance of success. But at the end of the day, it's all chance and probability. 

If Beware of Chicken was written a year ago or a year from now, I do not believe it would be as successful as it currently is. Similarly with He Who Fights with Monsters, Azarinth Healer, and Primal Hunter. Even Mother of Learning. If it made the migration from FictionPress to RR a year too late or too early, I don't think it'll be #1 rated on RR as it is right now. 

It's all luck. If your fic isn't a top rated story, that doesn't mean it's bad. If your fic has below 3 stars, that doesn't meant it's terrible. If your fic has 10 followers, that doesn't mean your story concept is unappealing. It just means you drew the short end of the stick. 

But even if that happens, you shouldn't give up. Finish your book, publish it online, or pitch it to a publisher if you'd rather not self-publish. Then start a new project, and hope you will be the one who wins the lottery this time around.

Thanks, the first two points are really helpful. You're right that there should either be steady progress or promises of a big payoff by giving the mc extreme hardship. 

Btw, why do you think those high rated stories would not succeed if they were released a year earlier or later? I know that the royalroad meta has shifted over the years, it used to be VRMMOs but then people got bored with that. Then it went to the he who fights with monsters kind of real life stories, and title-gimmicks-joke stories like beware of chicken or everyone loves large chests which is like comedy clickbait. I'm guessing the popular story meta shifts are why some stories might be outdated if released a year late? 

Oh yeah and xianxia stuff never exited before on royalroad but just in the past year or two has been kicking up a storm too.

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#11

Rainmeter Wrote: Some people send death threats to people because they included slavery in their stories. Some get a lot of shit because they've depicted religion in one way or another. My advice to you is stop caring about it and write the story if you like writing it.

This!

Man, I wish I would get some hate. At least that would mean some people are reacting to my writing, lol. I mean, I do have some pretty good reactions and a few fans, but no hate yet, and I do have racism and slavery in my stories.

In the end, are you an artist? Because writing is in fact "art" and an artist without detractors is... well not that interesting. And I'm speaking of myself here. Sigh.

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#12

LambentTyto Wrote:
Rainmeter Wrote: Some people send death threats to people because they included slavery in their stories. Some get a lot of shit because they've depicted religion in one way or another. My advice to you is stop caring about it and write the story if you like writing it.

This!

Man, I wish I would get some hate. At least that would mean some people are reacting to my writing, lol. I mean, I do have some pretty good reactions and a few fans, but no hate yet, and I do have racism and slavery in my stories.

In the end, are you an artist? Because writing is in fact "art" and an artist without detractors is... well not that interesting. And I'm speaking of myself here. Sigh.

t

It's always fun to have haters. Well, at least vocal ones. I feel that they're the ones that care the most about the story.

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#13

Rainmeter Wrote:
LambentTyto Wrote:
Rainmeter Wrote: Some people send death threats to people because they included slavery in their stories. Some get a lot of shit because they've depicted religion in one way or another. My advice to you is stop caring about it and write the story if you like writing it.

This!

Man, I wish I would get some hate. At least that would mean some people are reacting to my writing, lol. I mean, I do have some pretty good reactions and a few fans, but no hate yet, and I do have racism and slavery in my stories.

In the end, are you an artist? Because writing is in fact "art" and an artist without detractors is... well not that interesting. And I'm speaking of myself here. Sigh.

t

It's always fun to have haters. Well, at least vocal ones. I feel that they're the ones that care the most about the story.

Nah, if harry potter was posted here it would be getting 3 star advanced reviews about how the MC is useless, lots of "why are you spending so many chapters looking into the penseive this story used to be so good till you ruined it with this", then a 1 star about "why did harry potter not use avada kedavra shit author this is one of the worst novels i've ever read 1 star" then a 0.5 star about "voldemorte is a shit one dimensional character haha it's so cliche to have a character that doesn't understand feelings and he always makes the stupidest decisions not killing harry, letting neville pull a sword out of a hat to kill his horcrux, this is the worst novel i've ever read"


Writing for royalroad feels a lot like appeasing the lowest common denominator sometimes. 

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#14

HereBeTreasure Wrote: It seems like the first 10 chapters basically decide a litrpg's future potential? Like all the most popular ones on royalroad were all taking off very early and very fast with nearly exclusively 4.5 or 5 ratings and within the top 200 in a week or two. 

That said what's the general setup for a super popular novel's first 10 chapters? Is it like this?

Chapters 1-2. MC gets transported to a new world and acclimates. This section's interestingness level can make or break the novel. Needs to have some kind of hook. 

Chapters 3-6. MC does some progression stuff. Small payoffs. Testing the system. 

Chapter 7-10. First big payoff. 

This way dangling each payoff is basically encouraging the reader to "just one more chapter" it all the way until they're fully invested in the story. That takes care of the 4.5-5 ratings because everyone loves the payoffs. 

Then the second part is shaping chapters 1-10 to not offend or anger anyone. Since negative reviews have extra weight on royalroad, gotta be really really careful about angering anyone. This is basically an art form that I kind of suck at. This is the part that's hardest because readers have their own biases and sometimes as a reader I'm kind of blown away that something that I'd consider story-damning turned out not to be (like in primal hunter's first 10 chapters, the main character is basically socially autistic) and (lots of pov or sidestories like melody of mana, royalroad HATES non-mc pov). 

TL;DR

1. How to write those dopamine payoffs so you get excited 4.5-5 ratings?

2. How do you avoid offending/angering your readers to avoid the 4.0 or lower ratings?
-------

Asking this because my story just bombed from 4.67 to 4.1 rating and I'm a very realistic person, I know that honestly it's very hard to recover from there (im fairly certain that popular novels never ever touch 4.1 in their first two weeks), so I'm trying to figure out if the first 10 chapters just didn't have enough dopamine hits to make it worthwhile for the reader. Trying to learn some lessons so that the next story would do it right. It sucks to know that a story bombed after a lot of care planning it but hey that's life.



You nailed it perfectly, there is nothing wrong with having a formula to work upon, and having a method helps streamline the production process
I would also add that one should post the first chapters in a relatively short timeframe, because plenty of readers are incapable of waiting for a story to develop, and will question why they are not getting the usual tropes
People say they like "complex and innovative" stories, but its a fact that early OPness makes the ratings go really high, and readers respond very badly to innovations that are not immediately explained
I think fast paced stories have an easier time, even if they have little time to set up a proper background

Re: How to write a top rated story? Popular litrpgs are usually viral in the first 2 weeks, right?

#15

hakatri Wrote:
HereBeTreasure Wrote: It seems like the first 10 chapters basically decide a litrpg's future potential? Like all the most popular ones on royalroad were all taking off very early and very fast with nearly exclusively 4.5 or 5 ratings and within the top 200 in a week or two. 

That said what's the general setup for a super popular novel's first 10 chapters? Is it like this?

Chapters 1-2. MC gets transported to a new world and acclimates. This section's interestingness level can make or break the novel. Needs to have some kind of hook. 

Chapters 3-6. MC does some progression stuff. Small payoffs. Testing the system. 

Chapter 7-10. First big payoff. 

This way dangling each payoff is basically encouraging the reader to "just one more chapter" it all the way until they're fully invested in the story. That takes care of the 4.5-5 ratings because everyone loves the payoffs. 

Then the second part is shaping chapters 1-10 to not offend or anger anyone. Since negative reviews have extra weight on royalroad, gotta be really really careful about angering anyone. This is basically an art form that I kind of suck at. This is the part that's hardest because readers have their own biases and sometimes as a reader I'm kind of blown away that something that I'd consider story-damning turned out not to be (like in primal hunter's first 10 chapters, the main character is basically socially autistic) and (lots of pov or sidestories like melody of mana, royalroad HATES non-mc pov). 

TL;DR

1. How to write those dopamine payoffs so you get excited 4.5-5 ratings?

2. How do you avoid offending/angering your readers to avoid the 4.0 or lower ratings?
-------

Asking this because my story just bombed from 4.67 to 4.1 rating and I'm a very realistic person, I know that honestly it's very hard to recover from there (im fairly certain that popular novels never ever touch 4.1 in their first two weeks), so I'm trying to figure out if the first 10 chapters just didn't have enough dopamine hits to make it worthwhile for the reader. Trying to learn some lessons so that the next story would do it right. It sucks to know that a story bombed after a lot of care planning it but hey that's life.



You nailed it perfectly, there is nothing wrong with having a formula to work upon, and having a method helps streamline the production process
I would also add that one should post the first chapters in a relatively short timeframe, because plenty of readers are incapable of waiting for a story to develop, and will question why they are not getting the usual tropes
People say they like "complex and innovative" stories, but its a fact that early OPness makes the ratings go really high, and readers respond very badly to innovations that are not immediately explained
I think fast paced stories have an easier time, even if they have little time to set up a proper background

Yeah this is spot on, early OP or just early frontloaded payoffs is honestly the trick, and readers will judge the entire story based on early developments without letting those developments actually play out. 


I think the way to approach royalroad writing is a lot like making a tv show like Love Island.