Branching out from popular tropes

MorgueAnna

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I'm still trying to get a feel for the community of web novels and similar creative works. I frequently see stories that fit in a specific niche, and as things get popular, more stories follow certain trends. I know as a reader, when I get in a mood to read certain things, it's convenient to have a buffet of such stories available. From an author perspective, does fitting into popular categories work for your benefit or against you?
If you write something that doesn't fall neatly into the popular genre tropes, does that affect your ability to get readers? How about for story tags, is it harder to categorize?
I'm sure there's a nuance for each individual case, so I'm curious to see what your experiences have been.
 
D

Deleted member 57675

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I'm still trying to get a feel for the community of web novels and similar creative works. I frequently see stories that fit in a specific niche, and as things get popular, more stories follow certain trends. I know as a reader, when I get in a mood to read certain things, it's convenient to have a buffet of such stories available. From an author perspective, does fitting into popular categories work for your benefit or against you?
If you write something that doesn't fall neatly into the popular genre tropes, does that affect your ability to get readers? How about for story tags, is it harder to categorize?
I'm sure there's a nuance for each individual case, so I'm curious to see what your experiences have been.
Depends.
 

Triple_S

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I'm not a :blob_party:popular:blob_party: author, but I still wanna give my input :blob_shade:

Nothing I write fits snugly into any popular categories/genres ( as far as I know :blob_hide: ), and that has not worked against me ❤️. The only thing I can ask for is:
1. Write what I wanna write
2. Insert illustrations ( as long as they don't break the rules 🚨🚔👮‍♂️ ...*cough*)

Those are the only two things I primarily worry about it. Other than that, NOT being popular has been an enormous blessing 🙏 and benefit ❤️. It keeps me focused on improving the quality of my work, having total creative freedom, and not letting any success get to my head and ruin me.

(Sorry if my answer doesn't align too well with what you asked :blob_hide:❤️)
 

K5Rakitan

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Write what you love, and someone else will love it. Personally, I've gotten bored with certain tropes, so I like to break as many as possible.
 

EternalSunset0

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I'm still trying to get a feel for the community of web novels and similar creative works. I frequently see stories that fit in a specific niche, and as things get popular, more stories follow certain trends. I know as a reader, when I get in a mood to read certain things, it's convenient to have a buffet of such stories available. From an author perspective, does fitting into popular categories work for your benefit or against you?
If you write something that doesn't fall neatly into the popular genre tropes, does that affect your ability to get readers? How about for story tags, is it harder to categorize?
I'm sure there's a nuance for each individual case, so I'm curious to see what your experiences have been.
Depends on how you define "benefit."

If you write something popular in the site you're posting in, it will naturally help you get readers. I only ever wrote one series, so I can't talk from experience in the sense of comparing my own works, but from what I've observed, the right tags really help you get a head start. So does the cover and especially the title and synopsis.

Sure, the competition can be "tougher" because the genre's extremely saturated, but at the same time, a very saturated genre gets to that point likely because it has a way bigger pool of potential readers in the first place. You might get like 10% of the pool due to competition, but 10% of a million readers is a hundred thousand, while 50% of a thousand readers is 500.
 

Temple

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From an author perspective, does fitting into popular categories work for your benefit or against you?
It's a benefit. Web novel readers are extremely genre based. Just an example, I know some RR writers who don't write the "usual" genres and tropes, so naturally, they don't have many readers. Then, they tried using the mainstream ones, you know litrpg, put in isekai, rebirth whatever there. And their new stories are hits in RoyalRoad Rising Stars. There are like 4 of them who did this experiment and all got to RS lol. Same case with SH. Do what's popular in SH (I think GB now?) and you're guaranteed readers.
If you write something that doesn't fall neatly into the popular genre tropes, does that affect your ability to get readers?
Definitely. Like I said up there, if you're not writing the "usual" stuff in a site looking for the "usual", then you won't have many readers. There's no demand for what you're marketing.
This doesn't mean that you can't try. But it's going to be very, very hard to gain readership.
I'm sure there's a nuance for each individual case, so I'm curious to see what your experiences have been.
I'm going to share my experience here. My story doesn't fall in any of the mainstream categories in RR and SH. It got pumelled by low ratings in RR and ignored here in SH. Some of my RR readers (the very few loyal ones) even went here to SH to comment on my story because they feel bad it barely had any readers here.
My story is really an acquired taste. And even the writing does not follow the usual web novel structures and tropes. I continued writing it because I'm confident some people in the future will eventually like it after they're tired of the usual stuff. And I was kind of right. In volume 4, my SH followers tripled in number. That's amazing, of course, but note that it was already volume 4 when it happened. Most authors not writing mainstream genres would've already quit by volume 2 if their only goal is to be popular.
 

Ai-chan

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Ai-chan doesn't care about following trends. Ai-chan sets the trends. Before gender bender was popular, Ai-chan already wrote gender benders. Back when the novel community thought yuri was distasteful, Ai-chan already wrote it. When people didn't understand gender confusion, Ai-chan already wrote a novel about two crossdressing straight boys who had a yuri relationship with each other, and thus made readers confused if they were reading yaoi or yuri.

Ai-chan's advise is to write following your passion. If you follow trends without passion, all you're making is a mediocre work that will probably get some notice but will be met with cynical derision because they can clearly see that you do not put your heart into it. People can tell that you don't care, you know.
 

Kitsura

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I'm still trying to get a feel for the community of web novels and similar creative works. I frequently see stories that fit in a specific niche, and as things get popular, more stories follow certain trends. I know as a reader, when I get in a mood to read certain things, it's convenient to have a buffet of such stories available. From an author perspective, does fitting into popular categories work for your benefit or against you?
If you write something that doesn't fall neatly into the popular genre tropes, does that affect your ability to get readers? How about for story tags, is it harder to categorize?
I'm sure there's a nuance for each individual case, so I'm curious to see what your experiences have been.
I have seen way too many authors come onto this forum thinking that there is some sort of magical formula for becoming popular. I've even responded to several threads of people who followed the "formula" to success and found that nobody wanted to read their work despite the fact that they had all the popular genres of Fantasy, GL, Isekai(Hint: The writing was... forgettable.)

In truth, there are probably some genres that simply have more readers, but acting like writing quality doesn't play a factor in getting popular is bogus. Some people who write in the popular genres show a lack of understanding of the genre and it's very noticeable when you can tell they don't read jp isekai novels very often.

Personally, I read a ridiculous amount of books and I think that improves my writing to pushes me ahead of the pack. The only thing a person can do post as much as they can. For example, my new novel has 40 or so readers after it's first day, this is could be a combination of factors including Title page, synopsis, luck involving new novels, perhaps the genre is "right". But I did post 5 chapters day 1, and that made infinitely more difference.
 

MorgueAnna

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Thank you all for your responses!

It's been interesting to see webnovels pop off in recent years. I remember doing fanfic in the early 00s and seeing people advise others to not post their original fiction to avoid thieves, and to just focus on fanfiction works. It's so different now.
I've been out of the loop for about a decade for fanfiction, so seeing fanfics become published original works has been fascinating and bizarre.

Nothing I write fits snugly into any popular categories/genres ( as far as I know :blob_hide: ), and that has not worked against me ❤️. The only thing I can ask for is:
1. Write what I wanna write
2. Insert illustrations ( as long as they don't break the rules 🚨🚔👮‍♂️ ...*cough*)
I'm looking forward to getting back into writing. Something about the idea of having occasional illustrations feels like a motivator.

Write what you love, and someone else will love it. Personally, I've gotten bored with certain tropes, so I like to break as many as possible.

Ai-chan's advise is to write following your passion. If you follow trends without passion, all you're making is a mediocre work that will probably get some notice but will be met with cynical derision because they can clearly see that you do not put your heart into it. People can tell that you don't care, you know.

I absolutely agree with you both. There is someone out there who is your audience, so go ahead and just get your writing out there.


It's a benefit. Web novel readers are extremely genre based.

Depends on how you define "benefit."
Right! I often wonder how much the benefits and drawbacks even out (being buried among similar stories vs standing out among an ocean of similar stories). Of course, it entirely depends on the individual project in the end.

I have seen way too many authors come onto this forum thinking that there is some sort of magical formula for becoming popular. I've even responded to several threads of people who followed the "formula" to success and found that nobody wanted to read their work despite the fact that they had all the popular genres of Fantasy, GL, Isekai(Hint: The writing was... forgettable.)

In truth, there are probably some genres that simply have more readers, but acting like writing quality doesn't play a factor in getting popular is bogus. Some people who write in the popular genres show a lack of understanding of the genre and it's very noticeable when you can tell they don't read jp isekai novels very often.

Personally, I read a ridiculous amount of books and I think that improves my writing to pushes me ahead of the pack. The only thing a person can do post as much as they can. For example, my new novel has 40 or so readers after it's first day, this is could be a combination of factors including Title page, synopsis, luck involving new novels, perhaps the genre is "right". But I did post 5 chapters day 1, and that made infinitely more difference.
Right! I'm not looking for a magical formula to win popularity, luckily, but I've seen so many of those kinds of posts as well. I'm looking to learn more about the community/subcommunity of webnovel fans since I'm fairly new to the scene. It's fascinating, I think I would have really loved to have this sort of community when I was younger. It's been ages since I've written regularly, so I'm mostly a lurker. I guess I'm cheering everyone on from the sidelines, haha.

In recent years I've read less and less, first because I was too busy, and later due to my poor health. When I started to recover a bit, I wanted to get back into reading. I was starting to worry that I had lost interest in it, or perhaps was too mentally dulled to read now. By chance I picked up a book that was well written and I shot through to the end quickly and really enjoyed it. I realized that part of my struggle was trying to read stories that weren't written well. Which is part of why I'm still somewhat unfamiliar with webnovels, despite lurking on the edges for a couple of years. The same thing happened with visual novels. When they are written well, it's not a slog to try to read to the end.
I think intake really helps with output, like you say. By increasing my media intake, it's helped my creativity a lot more than trying to force myself through creative blocks.
 

BlackKnightX

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Following trends is an easy way to get readers, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the content. (when I say content, I mean story; not the writing itself. You can be an acceptable writer, but if your story sucks, readers will drop it anyway.)

Though, even if I say you need a good story; that’s not all there is to it.

Oftentimes, people get confused why some great stories are so underrated. That’s because the story is only part of it. The other most important thing is the marketing strategy. No matter how good your story is, if no one notices it, it's just gonna stay in the dark forever.

Following trends is one such marketing strategy to get more people to notice your story—actually, it’s the easiest one there is.
 
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i personally don't care about getting readers that much.

i'm still getting the feel on my own writing, like what makes me most comfortable and what suits me the most. if there's anyone who stuck with me regardless, I'd feel much more grateful to them, than if I was pandering to their tastes.

like, when i was just trying to explore a concept that i genuinely find interesting in one chapter and there's one person who bookmarked my work, it can make my day.

i wasn't sure if it's popular theme or not, just whether i like them.
 

doravg

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It has been said before, but following the trends makes your work well-read. But, darn it, if it didn't nearly make me swear off writing. My story, The Apple Grotto Nymph, is a dungeon core one. Quite popular genre in the web novel circles. It ended with six chapters less than planned. I just couldn't make force myself to write. I wrote only 2k words per day by its end. Furthermore, I still think it is a one heck of a fairy tale and that people could read it to their children without worrying that they will be scarred for life. But it was not what I wanted to read and write. Just what I thought that others would like to read.

Now, An Explorer's Guide is different. It has vampires, medical science, and it doesn't fit a troupe. I had a blast writing it and wrote 9 additional chapters for it. The novels after that one follow the same trend. Just write what could keep you up at night and make you wake up at 4 am to write. If it is your passion, it doesn't matter whether you only have one or two readers. You will be happy.
 
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