Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

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Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by Guest Poster » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:31 am

This topic has come up in a couple of threads in the past, but I figured it was interesting enough to get its own thread.

Most fanfics are posted in episodic fashion. The writer writes a chapter, posts it, writes another chapter and then posts that one upon completion too, usually within the time span of somewhere between a week and a month. More experienced writers sometimes write several chapters before releasing one in order to lower the risk of writing themselves into a corner.

There are a few fics which were posted as one complete package...my own fic is one and Pip's "Blame" fanfic is another one I recall. There's probably be a couple more. Obviously I'm talking about multi-chapter fics and not one-shots.

Both the episodic and the complete approach have their benefits and drawbacks. What's the approach you prefer as a writer and what's the approach you prefer as a reader of fanfics?
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:06 pm

I have to confess that I'm a little obsessive about detail. I hate writing about places I've never actually been to, and I hate writing about things I haven't researched. But I like writing, and I tend to do it spontaneously. So I've come to a bit of a compromise. Here's what I've figured out.

1. My writing comes in loose episodes, so loose they're really vignettes, little slices and short events. I've learnt to keep them around as notes. They're like tiles in a mosaic.
2. I try to figure out a big picture into which these tiles might fit.
3. If they fit naturally, that's great. If not, I have to either tweak the big picture or tweak the tiles.
4. If I have too many details sprouting, I put them into a map.
5. I draw a circle or otherwise highlight the parts of the map my existing vignettes fall into.
6. I look at what's not covered and what might need coverage. I circle spots I'd like to fill.
7. Then I decide what I need to know to fill those spots, and fill the easiest ones first.

That's a very technical look at it. But I also have another rule: if it makes me feel strongly, I'll write it. Everything is less important than the feels. :)

So far, it's worked for several things I've done. However, I'm a new entrant to the KS universe, so if anyone offers help and advice, I do appreciate that a lot!
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:15 pm

I decided to finish my hole story before posting to make sure it was the best it could be and I have found some good points and bad points

Good
1. There is no strict deadline. You get less stressed if you can't work on it for a month

2. People don't need to wait to see the next installment. People don't need to retread the last chapter to remember what happened

Bad

1. There is no strict deadline. This is good and bad, with no deadline there is motivation to get it done in a timely manner

2. It's a hole lot easier to write yourself into a corner so it needs to be rewritten or edited heavily constantly


Just a few things I have noticed in my own experience with writing
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by Oddball » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:25 pm

The one time I tried to wait until my story was completed before posting it, my computer messed up and I lost 8 chapters worth of writing, plus notes.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by Silentcook » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:55 pm

Ideally, everything at once. But I still don't have the kind of free time required to do that and who knows if I ever will, so the next best thing I can do is to shut the fuck up and not discuss the work in progress at all with outside observers, no matter how tempted. Not the "hey, you messed up a verb/tense/comma splice" kind of discussion, of course, but the "hey, I think this is what you're trying to do" kind of discussion.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by dewelar » Sun Mar 09, 2014 1:15 pm

I can only speak for myself and my own story, but I know that had I not posted the chapters one at a time, then (1) the story would have gone very differently than it has (i.e., I would have stuck a lot closer to my original outline); (2) my writing would not have improved in the way it has, because I would have missed out on a lot of great feedback; and (3) I probably would have given up on it after writing the first few chapters out of frustration at going back and constantly tweaking what I'd written. I say the last out of experience, because that's exactly what happened when a friend of mine and I tried to write a fantasy novel some time ago. That's not even taking into account that I've now been working on it for seven months, and I don't think I could have stuck with it that long. Heck, I probably wouldn't have stuck around the boards without doing things the way I did them.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by NekoDude » Sun Mar 09, 2014 2:56 pm

Personally, I went for something epic from the start. I knew going in that I wanted to have several plotlines in flight at any given time, occasionally merging and splitting them or just having them brush. I also knew what I wanted for a format, and that it doesn't mesh well with the forum software. I posted the whole Book One here anyhow, but I think it lost something in format translation.

I knew I was likely to write myself into a corner at some point (and still might), and didn't want to have to call that back. I did feel like there was a point in the first book where I was just a paragraph or two from setting up a Gordian knot. Luckily I had Sally available to keep that from tightening. It did make me unravel the trio quicker than I intended, but that was obviously an unstable setup from the start so I didn't mind that much. Having one main character released from a relationship let me spin another plotline up anyhow, which I had originally intended to do in a much messier way. It does leave some downtime in that plot arc, but when writing in chronological order (roughly), these things happen. You don't need or want pages of "they did the same shit this weekend that they did last weekend". Even if that includes sex (which it probably does), how many times can I write the same two people fucking and make it entertaining and/or relevant? Do you really want or need to know if and when Hisao earns his red wings? (I probably will write this though.)

I actually spotted a continuity error in the book well after pre-release, and opted to just leave it that way. (Now let's see if anyone else notices.)
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by Numb » Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:21 pm

Personally, I love posting episodically. It gives you that sense of progress when you can hit the submit button and say "that part is finished, on to the next".

Of course, as with every method of doing something, this has its flaws. Posting immediately after editing means there is no going back if you write yourself into a corner, and you need to break and manipulate the scenes with new information or cover it up so you can continue. This happened more than I care to admit with Blossom.

The feedback you get from episodic posting is amazing motivation too, but it can also be dangerous. I forget who it was, but early into Blossom's development, somebody compared my style to Hemmingway. This made me feel like some kind of god, but at that point my writing was average, I'd say poor quality, but some would argue against me. I got big headed, started building up to events that were very far away and justifying it by saying "It's alright, I'm a pro, I can do this'. I think it's fairly obvious from Blossom being cancelled that I couldn't.

If you can push yourself to do something, then proceed to finish it, you're a better writer than most. Publishing authors don't get feedback from their audience to push them forward, so by removing the fans from the development, you are already a step closer to being a professional.

Always have an editor though. An idea might sound glorious in your head, but then so does your awful singing. An editor will point out where you're being a dumbass and can even give you better ideas, so if you can get one, do it.

tl;dr Episodic good for learning, package release good for abilities.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by SpunkySix » Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:49 pm

I prefer episodic for both writing and reading. For writing, it's easier to get out and get feedback in manageable chunks. For reading, it feels more like a series, which is fun.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by Guest Poster » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:59 am

Personally, I love posting episodically. It gives you that sense of progress when you can hit the submit button and say "that part is finished, on to the next".
I actually got the same sense of progress whenever I finished a chapter and saved it onto my USB stick for backup.

Personally, I prefer the package release because I feel its cons aren't dealbreakers for me, but the episodic release cons are bigger hurdles. I enjoy being able to tell myself that I finish what I start. If I start something I'm not sure I can finish, I like keeping it under wraps until the point where I know for sure that it'll be finished. Knowing that I'm obliged to nobody to finish what I'm working on is something I greatly value. It gives a sense of freedom. I also enjoy the freedom of being able to go back to earlier chapters and remove parts that in hindsight didn't seem that fitting or gave too much foreshadowing too quickly.

Regarding feedback, if I could have gone back in time, I probably would have sent my fic through a proofreader for a grammar check, but I had no issues with not getting feedback until the very end. Only about 1% of my motivation level is reliant on reader encouragement. It's not that I'm not flattered by it, but an "Awesome work"-post usually results in a few minutes worth of motivation, which is an extremely small part of the total amount of motivation needed to finish a larger fic. 99% of it is still based on pure stubborness and determination.

Personally, I think I like reading a complete story more than a story chopped into very tiny pieces. I didn't read Katawa Shoujo scene by scene either after all. I find that when reading just one chapter, I have a tendency to get distracted by details sometimes. When faced with a whole story, I usually quickly decide: "Eh, not worth picking on every detail in every chapter" and hang back and just enjoy the story.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:00 am

You just described exactly me and my thought process. I was going to come back here and post some more onto my first comment but you just covered pretty much what I would have said
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:05 pm

I found that episodic with a buffer worked decently for Enjoy The Silence. It meant I could maintain a fast release schedule and not have to rush much, while still being able to incorporate feedback (although IIRC I didn't actually end up incorporating any feedback from the forum).
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:32 am

Now that I've actually written four reasonably-sized pieces, I have to say that episodes work better for me. I'm better at linked miniatures than bigger things, mainly because I have an obsessive urge to polish things, and one large thing is harder to polish than several small things.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by Zykes » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:42 pm

I think that in terms of just writing (for yourself) that either method is fine and really depends on personal taste, but when talking about releasing it for public viewing, its a bit different.

With a whole release, it's like one big swing, you hit it or miss it. Where with episodic release, you have to constantly swing with each chapter/scene/etc. But unlike the whole release, you do have some room to make adjustments and there seems a bit a bit more understanding if one chapter/scene isn't as good as a previous one.

I've come to like episodic release as it does allow the writer to build up a sense of drama or that sense of reader at the edge of their seats kind of effect when you leave bits and pieces to be hinted at or not revealed at all yet. (I read quite a great deal of manga and that happens a lot. I know when something in Naruto or bleach or Attack on titan or whatever happens and it leaves you wondering, I sit on it a whole week/month to see the next release, and that is a good appeal to a story I think.
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Re: Submitting of fan fiction: Episodic vs. whole releases

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:06 pm

Personally I prefer a mix of them both. Finishing writing the whole thing, then releasing it episodically. It makes it so you are gurentied a chapter to post on any givin day and you receive critisim so you can edit parts to fit more with what people point out so you don't write yourself into a hole to deep
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