I almost pity people who are growing up now with no knowledge of what life was like before the internet came along. What still seems a miracle to me — on days when I’m not getting bombarded with spam, or some punk isn’t trying to destroy my computer with malware — is a boring norm to more people every year.
True story: a couple of decades ago I asked my grandmother, who was born in 1910, to pick the most amazing technological advance of her life. I figured maybe it was the airplane, or even the computer, although computers were just getting out of the gate at that time. She thought about it a while, then said, “Electricity.”
What she meant was that until sometime in the 1930’s, electricity was not a given in daily life for a lot of people (and for some it would take much longer). When electricity finally got wired up to your house, and you weren’t using lanterns to see after dark, it changed everything.
Well, the internet has changed everything, too — and one of the things it’s changed is the way in which knowledge is aggregated and shared. In the old days, to learn something you wanted to learn, you had to join a club, go to a particular school, or find individuals with like-minded interests in a constantly moving societal landscape. Today, you click on a button, type in a few words, like, “How do I start an online novel?”, and on the first page of returned hits you get a link to something like this (via WFG):
I would get some buffer episodes, at least a month a head of the chapters you post. That was something I learned the hard way.
It’s an old form of fiction. Charles Dickens wrote serialized stuff. Loads of the great science fiction novels — and indeed, plenty of other great books too — were serialized in magazines and newspapers long before they were assembled by publishers. It’s a great form.
Like others have said, you have to want it. You need to be willing to write regularly, no matter what happens in your life. I’ve had weeks where I’ve been in the hospital, and still had to punch something out the next day. Wanting it means being willing to do whatever it takes to post, to share, and to tell that story.
The advice about writing ahead is worth its weight in gold for two big reasons. First, you never know when life is going to interrupt you — but it’s going to. Second, it gives you time to think things through and make adjustments before you’ve committed through publication.
Read the whole thread and you’ll find advice on hosting, software, advertising and more — all in one connected conversation that took place over a six month period. Which can be fully digested in a matter of minutes, even by a complete novice.
And there you are: ready to write an online novel.
— Mark Barrett
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