Is polished english essential in web serial?

#1
As a newbie author, i am always open to criticism. When i started writing my new book, i showed it couple of friends. I told all of them that they need to be brutally honest with me about my book...
Everyone loved the idea of the book and they all thought the book could become something great when i told them about the whole story of the book. But when i showed them my stockpiles of chapters a debate started between my friends...
Some of my friends who are authors at webnovel.com commented that other then some small silly mistakes here and there, everything else seems fine.
But two of my friends told me that my english is although grammatically correct, it needs a little more polishing...
This started a debate between my friends that whether web serial needs polished english or not. According to my webnovel friends, if a writer uploads 7 times a week then polished english is not necessary. But my other two friends argued that it is still necessary.
So what do you guys think? Is polished english needed when a author 7 times a week? Or simple does the job when uploading 7 times a week...
And please note that i am a non-native english speaker. That is why it is little hard for me to write polished english...

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#2
You absolutely don't need to have polished english in order to write anything!
 
It's totally alright to make errors- I'm a native speaker and I make mistakes all the time. If someone points out a mistake to you, or an oddly-worded sentence, just make a note, then go back and correct it. Obviously poor grammar will turn some people off, but you're not going to get better if you don't practice.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#3
NeedlesCaligula Wrote: You absolutely don't need to have polished english in order to write anything!
 
It's totally alright to make errors- I'm a native speaker and I make mistakes all the time. If someone points out a mistake to you, or an oddly-worded sentence, just make a note, then go back and correct it. Obviously poor grammar will turn some people off, but you're not going to get better if you don't practice.
thats true... 

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#5
I personally think having decent English is fine. It doesn't need to be fully polished.

If your book becomes popular enough that you are potentially looking at an Amazon deal or something, sure maybe hire editors and go back to fix it but until that point, just write how you want. If people like it, great. If they don't, oh well. At the end of the day, write for yourself. Most commercialised writers are writing what they love.

Keep in mind professionals have alpha readers, beta readers, proofers, editors, focus groups and much more. We haven't got that luxury. To me, I see Royal Road almost as a proof of concept and/or first draft. When people start to like it more and more, those other things will naturally come.

There are some books on here that are reasonably popular which are riddled with errors. Just enjoy yourself and shove off the criticism. It's great to have it and you can use it to improve but at the end of it all, some people will like your book, others wont.

Even today, I had someone rate my book 5 stars and another 0.5. It's just the way of life with these things.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#6
What's the time you will spend polishing your English worth to you?  That's the real question, to me.  If it is time taken away from when you could be writing, and you're not getting too many "this sucks" comments, then get back to the word mines, author!  If you obsess about perfection to the point it wrecks your sleep, or you write english like a drunken Irishman speaks, you might want to clean up your prose a smidge.

Poor grammar can break reader trance.  You don't want that to happen, because breaking reader trance (where the reader is engaged with and enjoying the story) means losing readers.  The number you lose is dependent on how bad and how often the breaks are.  Some people have very low tolerances for bad english, others could read the English pidgin tongue that a lot of translated works use almost as fast as regular English.

Bottom line, if your writing is just that bad, fix it.  If it ain't that bad, write on!

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#7
Indian_Sage Wrote: As a newbie author, i am always open to criticism. When i started writing my new book, i showed it couple of friends. I told all of them that they need to be brutally honest with me about my book...
Everyone loved the idea of the book and they all thought the book could become something great when i told them about the whole story of the book. But when i showed them my stockpiles of chapters a debate started between my friends...
Some of my friends who are authors at webnovel.com commented that other then some small silly mistakes here and there, everything else seems fine.
But two of my friends told me that my english is although grammatically correct, it needs a little more polishing...
This started a debate between my friends that whether web serial needs polished english or not. According to my webnovel friends, if a writer uploads 7 times a week then polished english is not necessary. But my other two friends argued that it is still necessary.
So what do you guys think? Is polished english needed when a author 7 times a week? Or simple does the job when uploading 7 times a week...
And please note that i am a non-native english speaker. That is why it is little hard for me to write polished english...
It really depends on your target audience. Your Webnovel friends are speaking from experience on that site - and they're right. They're used to a massive amount of translated (MTL or otherwise) and English as a Second Language stories over there. The audience is widely pulled from a multilingual community, so grammar structure often fuses the author's native language and English. I can tell you that from a native speaker there is a massive difference in quality of work from someone with extensive practice in English when compared to someone at around ~60% proficiency.

Look at language proficiency as a multiplier that's hidden from you at all times. If your novel is literally perfect in all other aspects lack of English 'polish' can range from ruining it completely to being a minor nuisance. I read the first chapter of you novel and can say this: you have many "correct" sentences that feel bad to read, the flow is choppy. That doesn't mean that your writing is bad or that you wouldn't have many people be able to read it just fine, and when talking to others about your story I imagine its even better. The last challenge you have to take your writing from "needs polish" to "some mistakes but who really cares" is simply more writing experience and editing feedback. 

You've already found the best way to do that - practice! So keep it up, you've already taken a step that most people never do, writing in a language other than your mother tongue! I know if I were to attempt to write in any other language I have (barely) working knowledge of I'd sound like a grade-schooler, but you're solidly sitting around early high school level. Most popular published works only ever need mid-late high school vocabulary and grammar. 

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#8
Indian_Sage Wrote: So what do you guys think? Is polished english needed when a author 7 times a week? Or simple does the job when uploading 7 times a week...

Firstly this depends on what kind of story you are writing. All writing sites have preferred genres, what you'll call the "mainstreams" on the site. If you're writing mainstream, the readers on that site will be more forgiving, if going off-mainstream, then the standards will be higher. This is speaking from my experience writing a mainstream story on my other account and off-mainstream on this one. And also experiences from my friends in the same situation. That's my experience as a reader too. When I used to consume tons of isekai several years ago, what was available was mostly machine translated. I'd happily read them even if a lose a few brain cells each chapter because of the atrocious English. But if you give me a different book, I'll judge its grammar.

This is connected to my second point, the culture of the site.

Dreydfaer Wrote: Your Webnovel friends are speaking from experience on that site - and they're right. They're used to a massive amount of translated (MTL or otherwise) and English as a Second Language stories over there. The audience is widely pulled from a multilingual community, so grammar structure often fuses the author's native language and English.

^ It's this one. A good example of this is pov writing. I know when someone has a translated novel background in writing because they do head-hopping. Japanese novels have a sort of first person/third person hybrid style that gets translated into head-hopping, which isn't allowed in English writing rules. Webnovel.com would be more forgiving of head hopping. A few years back, RoyalRoad would also be more forgiving of head-hopping. However, many readers used to traditionally published english books are now here and they'll get weirded out by stuff like head-hopping.


Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#10
Rather than concerning yourself with grammar and perfect sentence structure, what you need to work on most is proper spelling and word definition (Google is your friend here) and -- most important of all! -- finding your voice as an author. 

JK Rowling doesn't write like JR Tolkien, and when read out loud, a book by Ray Badbury doesn't sound like Ernest Hemingway. Regardless of the context, a reader who has a favorite author can tell after just a paragraph or two whether something was written by the one they love. 

And if you want to be loved by the people who read your stories, you must find your voice! But how?

Of first and utmost importance is picking a Point of View. First Person and Third Person are the two most basic, but there is a host of nuances that go along with writing under whichever point of view you choose. But only pick just one! Do not flip-flop back and forth, and again -- of utmost importance! -- do not randomly flip back and forth between the viewpoint of one character and the viewpoint of another.

After you've picked a point of view, now you must pick a style. Do you like to write comedically? Romantically? Poetically? Again, there are quite a few styles from which to choose -- and if you are adept, you can choose to use more than one -- but also of great importance is do not randomly flip back and forth between every single style.

Know which style you want to use to present your story to your readers, and use that one almost exclusively.

Now you have to think about structure. Do you like using colloquialisms, or is your structure more literal? Do you like using inner monlogue, or would you rather have characters say things out loud? What balance do you want to strike between Showing and Telling? Between Action and Description? Between Dialogue and Narration?

Here again, as you may realize, you can vary your structure somewhat, but find which one is your forte and stick to it as much as you can.

Okay! So after all that, rather than worrying about whether your English is perfect, what else is there to consider when finding your voice? No matter what point of view you choose, no matter your style or structure, you need to write in an active voice. 

Writing in a passive voice is the bane of a novice writer. So how do you tell the difference?

I have learned that if you can do the verb in your sentence while sitting in a chair and not moving a muscle, the voice of your sentence is passive. Now just like Showing vs Telling -- where you can Tell a scene sometimes, but you ought to Show scenes as often as you can -- you can write a passive sentence, but you ought to write actively as often as you can.

So here are some sentences from the most recent chapter of my novel called DOTS. What we will do here is look at the verb of each sentence, and see if is an active verb, or if it is something you can do while not moving a muscle.

She walked around and stood in front of him, shielding him from a phalanx of rifles. The verbs here are WALKED and STOOD. Walking involves moving, but standing is a stationary act. So the voice in this sentence is half active and half passive.

He held her with gentle hands by the shoulders, pressing her back to his chest. Holding is a stationary act. The voice in this sentence is passive.

Reality poured in and the Universe emptied, yet still he could hold more. Pouring involves movement This voice of this sentence is active.

Rio's eyes opened before him, two galaxies rimmed in red glasses, spinning in the void. Here the verb is OPENED. Opening something involves movement. The voice here is active. 

The time became 4:15, and the commander of the SWAT team called out. And here we have two verbs -- BECAME and CALLED. Becoming something is typically a passive activity, but not always, and calling out is active. So the voice of this sentence is again half and half, but it leans more towards being active. 

Rio gripped the hands Hank had on her shoulders, squeezing to show concern. Here we have the verb GRIPPED. Gripping something involves movement, so the voice of this sentence is active. 

Hank heard a dozen rifles cock. HEARD is the verb, and all the verbs that involve the senses -- Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Tasting and oftentimes Touching -- are passive voice verbs. So the voice of this sentence is passive.

A rumble grew in the distance, approaching at sonic speed. Growing involves motion. The voice of this sentence is active.

Do you see how that works? I have seen too many stories written by novice writers where the voice used in every sentence is passive. As stated, all the verbs that involve the senses are passive, as well as all the TO BE verbs, like WAS and IS and WERE. Also passive are the verbs COULD and WOULD and SHOULD, and CAN and FEEL and THINK. 

It is really quite a shame, because the number of verbs that are active are far and away more plentiful than those that are passive. Yet too many times an amatuer writer will pen paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of sentences where every single verb is WAS or COULD or CAN, or SAW or FELT or THOUGHT.

Do not be that writer! Write in an active voice! You will find yourself praised, regardless of whether or not not your English is perfectly perfect. 🦄

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#11
Quote:ArDeeBurger
I have learned that if you can do the verb in your sentence while sitting in a chair and not moving a muscle, the voice of your sentence is passive. Now just like Showing vs Telling -- where you can Tell a scene sometimes, but you ought to Show scenes as often as you can -- you can write a passive sentence, but you ought to write actively as often as you can. 

Wait, is that actually true? It struck me as odd and when I look it up I get:

Active vs. passive voice
In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice, the subject receives the action.

https%3A%2F%2Fi.pinimg.com%2Foriginals%2F41%2F41%2Faf%2F...5be827.jpg

It doesn’t seem to matter whether what type of action you are taking, as long as you are the one taking it? (Assuming you are the first subject.)
  • The boy ran at the ball
  • The boy looked at the ball
These are both active voice, aren’t they?

Maybe I’m not getting it.  peoconfused

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#12
The author of Mother of Learning is a non-native English speaker, so you're in good company!

And webfiction definitely doesn't need to be perfect. I post my works on RR before publishing to Amazon, so I think of what I post as a first/second draft, similar to what traditionally published authors might send to beta readers. I still try to proofread for typos, but some will slip through no matter what since I'm not paying a professional editor at this stage. 

However, this laid-back attitude can also be taken too far. A writer can shrug and say, "It's just webfiction. Who cares?" And this can result in lazy, messy writing that no one wants to read. 

Just do the best you can! As long as you're putting some effort into proofreading your chapters before you post them, you'll keep getting better everyday.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#13
CrowsCrowCrow Wrote: It doesn’t seem to matter whether what type of action you are taking, as long as you are the one taking it? (Assuming you are the first subject.)
  • The boy ran at the ball
  • The boy looked at the ball
These are both active voice, aren’t they?

Maybe I’m not getting it.  peoconfused
Active voice does things. Passive voice has things done to it. If your subject is doing the action, it is active. If your subject is the recipient of the action (it is being done to them), it is passive.

Passive voice is not universally bad. Just takes practice to recognize when is the right time to use it. Develop a preference for writing in active voice and your prose will be more readable.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#14
I've seen fictions with quite eyebrow-raising english get surprisingly far. For web-fiction, as long as your story can be followed and it is interesting, you can find an audience. Personally, I can't really follow stories that have distracting grammar mistakes, especially if they keep happening despite corrections in comments. Do remember though, that a large part of the audience here somehow manages to read through machine translations. That should show you what the priorities of some people hungry for content are.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#15
CrowsCrowCrow Wrote: Maybe I’m not getting it.
People often confuse a grammatically passive sentence with a story written in a passive way. To be sure, writing a story that contains a lot of grammatically passive sentences is a poor choice of voice when establishing yourself as an author, as grammatically passive sentences are by their nature passively written, but passive sentences are not the only sign of a story that is written in a passive way.

There are verbs that are action verbs and there are verbs that are not action verbs. The difference between a verb that is an action verb and one that is not has nothing to do with grammar -- it has only to do with motion. A more scholarly way of describing the difference between verbs that are action verbs and verbs that are not is by stating that some verbs are dynamics, while other verbs are stative.

But most writing guides don't say things like, 'Avoid writing sentences that use stative verbs, and write most of your sentences using dynamic verbs.' They say, 'Write in an active way, and use action verbs.'

I suppose though, since almost every time I bring up this subject, I find myself having to describe the difference between a grammatically active sentence and writing in an active way, I'm goiing to have to start using the words dynamic and stative.  So let's reiterate!


Quote:Okay! So after all that, rather than worrying about whether your English is perfect, what else is there to consider when finding your voice? No matter what point of view you choose, no matter your style or structure, you need to write in DYNAMIC SENTENCES.

Writing STATIVE SENTENCES is the bane of a novice writer. So how do you tell the difference?

I have learned that if you can do the verb in your sentence while sitting in a chair and not moving a muscle, your sentence is DYNAMIC. Now just like Showing vs Telling -- where you can Tell a scene sometimes, but you ought to Show scenes as often as you can -- you can write a STATIVE sentence, but you ought to write DYNAMICALLY as often as you can.

So here are some sentences from the most recent chapter of my novel called DOTS. What we will do here is look at the verb of each sentence, and see if is a DYNAMIC verb, or if it is something you can do while not moving a muscle.

She walked around and stood in front of him, shielding him from a phalanx of rifles. The verbs here are WALKED and STOOD. Walking involves moving, but standing is a stationary act. So the voice in this sentence is half DYNAMIC and half STATIVE.

He held her with gentle hands by the shoulders, pressing her back to his chest. Holding is a stationary act. This sentence is STATIVE.

Reality poured in and the Universe emptied, yet still he could hold more. Pouring involves movement. This sentence is DYNAMIC.

Rio's eyes opened before him, two galaxies rimmed in red glasses, spinning in the void. Here the verb is OPENED. Opening something involves movement. The sentence here is DYNAMIC.

The time became 4:15, and the commander of the SWAT team called out. And here we have two verbs -- BECAME and CALLED. Becoming something is typically a STATIVE activity, but not always, and calling out is DYNAMIC. So this sentence is again half and half, but it leans more towards being DYNAMIC.

Rio gripped the hands Hank had on her shoulders, squeezing to show concern. Here we have the verb GRIPPED. Gripping something involves movement, so this sentence is DYNAMIC.

Hank heard a dozen rifles cock. HEARD is the verb, and all the verbs that involve the senses -- Hearing, Seeing, Smelling, Tasting and oftentimes Touching -- are STATIVE verbs. So this sentence is STATIVE.

A rumble grew in the distance, approaching at sonic speed. Growing involves motion. This sentence is DYNAMIC.

Do you see how that works? I have seen too many stories written by novice writers where every sentence is STATIVE. As stated, all the verbs that involve the senses are STATIVE, as well as all the TO BE verbs, like WAS and IS and WERE. Also STATIVE are the verbs COULD and WOULD and SHOULD, and CAN and FEEL and THINK.

It is really quite a shame, because the number of verbs that are DYNAMIC are far and away more plentiful than those that are STATIVE. Yet too many times an amatuer writer will pen paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of sentences where every single verb is WAS or COULD or CAN, or SAW or FELT or THOUGHT.

Do not be that writer! Write in a DYNAMIC voice! You will find yourself praised, regardless of whether or not not your English is perfectly perfect. 🦄

Oh! I rather like that! I think from now on when I bring this subject up, I will instead state that some verbs are DYNAMIC while other verbs are STATIVE, and a good story is written using mostly DYNAMIC verbs.


Here is a list of a few common Dynamic Verbs:

Act  Ask  Build  Call  Climb  Close  Come  Cry  Dance  Drink  Eat  Enter  Exit  Fall  Fix  Give  Go  Grab  Hit  Joke  Jump  Kick  Laugh  Lift  March  Open  Play  Push  Read  Ride  Run  Shout  Sing  Smile  Talk  Throw  Turn  Visit  Walk  Write  Yell

Try to use verbs like these as often as you can!


And here is a list of common Stative Verbs:

Adore  Appreciate  Be  Believe  Belong  Consist  Contain  Deny  Depend  Deserve  Doubt  Feel  Hear  Imagine  Include  Involve  Know  Need  Own  Promise  Realize  Remember  Resemble  Satisfy  See  Seem  Smell  Suppose  Taste  Understand  Want  Wish

These are verbs you should use sparingly when writing a story, as well as the linking verbs like WAS and BE and ARE.  Of course, in total these lists are very long, as all verbs can be classified as either being dynamic or stative (or linking.) The verbs I've shown here are just some of simple ones.

But now perhaps, I hope, you see the clearer picture.

And good luck! You can do it! 🐿️

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#16
ArDeeBurger Wrote: I suppose though, since almost every time I bring up this subject, I find myself having to describe the difference between a grammatically active sentence and writing in an active way, I'm goiing to have to start using the words dynamic and stative.  So let's reiterate!

Ahhh, I gotcha. Yeah since you used the phrase 'Active Voice' I googled that to better understand what you meant and was very puzzled with the results. I guess that's the issue with Homonyms. >.>

ArDeeBurger Wrote: Oh! I rather like that! I think from now on when I bring this subject up, I will instead state that some verbs are DYNAMIC while other verbs are STATIVE, and a good story is written using mostly DYNAMIC verbs.

DYNAMIC vs STATIVE sounds great!  

ArDeeBurger Wrote: But now perhaps, I hope, you see the clearer picture.

Yep, I understand now. Thanks!

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#17
Quality of English is but one factor.  A great story story can make up for poor grammar, but perfect grammar cannot make up for a poor story.   However there are limits, eventually reach the point where your grammar is too bad for the story to carry.  Where there point is, is different for each reader.  Some are more accepting of bad grammar than others.  The other way goes as well: some people will hate a story that others love.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#18
Personally, I gave up on writing in English so I could focus more on my story and fix its flaws. Translating it to English even with the help of DeepL's machine translation takes a lot of time especially when your story is far from perfect. For example,  you'd have to translate it about 10 times if your story takes 10 drafts to be completed which might be what my story needs. 

My grammar was so bad that my writing review partners refused to read my story and my readership number barely budged. (Partly due to the bad grammar, partly due to how bad my story was written and the lack of worldbuilding). 

I sometimes lurk here to read how to write threads and such, as not a lot of content is available in French, and use them to improve my writing which I send back to my french-speaking beta readers.

However, the real downside from going back to writing in your native language (If it's not mandarin Chinese) is that you would lose a ton of opportunities to acquire a readership.
Almost all non-English speaking websites are dead websites in terms of traffic for Fantasy works (except the Chineses one).

I'd advise you to stay here if writing in English is what you really want to do and if you're ready to focus on grammar, writing flow AND all the other components of storytelling (Not just storytelling).  Just be advised that even if you master grammar, you will have to compete with native speakers that have a «Sprachgefühl» of the language, therefore, writing natural-sounding sentences that will be more pleasant to the reader's ears than whatever you can come up with.

Re: Is polished english essential in web serial?

#19
Quote:So what do you guys think? Is polished english needed when a author 7 times a week? Or simple does the job when uploading 7 times a week...
No. Polished writing in general isn't even necessary so long as you put Progression LitRPG in your tags.

Jokes aside, I've seen extremely well written books on this site, and by well written, I mean they could be sold on the market alongside some other popular books, and they at max have like 100 followers. Granted these aren't LitRPGs or cool-looking-table stories, but still. Which I sort of feel bad for them because I see others just walking into writing with ten times as much traction because tables are pretty. 

Point is polished English isn't essential. Polished writing, depending on the genre, might not make a difference either. Does it matter? Not really, unless you specifically want a lot of views or want some Patreon subs. Still you should want to improve it. You shouldn't be like, No one cares, so I'm gonna BLAGH everything out.