Short Posts or Long Posts


Is it better for your blog fiction to have a lot of short posts, or is it better to have fewer long posts? This is something I've thought about a lot. When I'm reading Blog Fiction, I prefer nice short, bite-sized posts; however, when I'm writing, I seem to prefer writing longer posts. In deciding which is better, I broke it down by pros and cons for each.

There are a lot of things I like about short posts. They are easier for me to read. I can read a short post quickly and get a sense of satisfaction very quickly. When I write short posts that means I can (usually) write more total posts, even if the word count is the same. With more posts, that gives readers more of a reason to frequently check the website for updates.

One of the cons to writing short posts is that your writing can get choppy. If you're stringing together a lot of events, readers may forget certain details. When it comes to new readers, they may get lost because there won't be much context in shorter posts. As a writer, you have to be more careful to provide backlinks or sidebar summaries for your new readers.

There are a couple reasons that long posts are better in Blog Fiction. First of all, when it comes to fiction, most readers are used to long passages when reading fiction. A post that is considered "long" by Blog standards would more than likely be considered very short in terms of chapters in a book.

Another advantage to long posts is the ability to have a more contained story in each post. Each post has a better chance to entertain and interest new readers. A longer post could be more likely to be linked\stumbled\dugg\reddit\etc... That of course means more readers for your blog fiction.

There are of course some disadvantages to longer posts. The biggest thing is that longer posts is going to reduce the frequency of new posts. That means readers are going to be very disappointed if the writer misses a post. This places a burden on the writer to make sure to post on schedule. If you're posting long chapters once a week and miss a week, that means readers will think they have to wait a whole week for an update. Whereas if you're posting short articles everyday, it just means that they only have to wait one more day for an update. In the A.D.D world of the internet and blogs, that might mean losing readers.

Speaking of A.D.D., that brings me to the other disadvantage of longer posts. They are going to be harder to read. Internet readers are used to nice short posts. Better yet, they prefer nice bulleted top 10 lists. It's just like when reading a book. When I read a book, I'm always more likely to read "just one more chapter" before putting it down if the next chapter is only 3 pages, as opposed to 30 pages.

Which is better to do? I'm not sure. As a general rule, I prefer reading blog fiction that has generally short posts (with occasional long posts being tolerated). I'd like to hear from you what your preference is when reading blog fiction (or any online fiction): Long posts? Or Short posts?


Ryan said...

I started writing my blog-fiction with a general writing edict of 1,000 words/day. So, generally, my fiction posts go to that length (and beyond if I'm feelin' it). I'm an avid reader, so don't mind the long post (if it holds my interest). Conversely, reading on the computer is a universally hated activity.

I guess I lean towards write according to your writing plan and worry less about the ease or acceptability of length. If you're writing SEO-based blog posts about [enter hot topic here], then short is king. But with fiction, it's inherently 'lengthy,' not the E! news network.

Ted said...

I find I ask myself this question a lot, maybe even more than the question deserves...

With Flyover City, the central conceit of the thing is that it IS this one guy's blog - I can't imagine tackling it as a straight forward "novel" (a movie or indy comic book, maybe) Different people write different length posts in their "real life", and at the end of the day you have to meet the needs of your story, so I think the bigger thing is -

(1) making the posts as blog-like as possible ("So, last night..." or "Right now, I'm sitting in my cubicle...", etc. - especially if you want it to be a "real" BLOG fiction.)

(2) immediacy: trying to present the events in some sembalance of REAL time. (Which is a big, HUGE trick for me. I have enough trouble living ONE life in real time!)

"reading on the computer is a universally hated activity" - TOTALLY agree w/ Ryan on this, which is why I think if ANY web-based fiction ever manages to find a wide audience, and maybe even crossover to print (as some non-fiction blogs have)- it'll be blog fiction.

At least, I'm hoping so... ; )

Ian said...

600-1,000 words seems to be the optimum length for a blog fiction post. Bsically, as you have said, you are looking at the equivalent of three pages from a book.

Anonymous said...

I had been wondering when chatting with my readers (all 3 of them) why they hadn't arrived at the conclusions I had been hoping they would've. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said: "If you're stringing together a lot of events, readers may forget certain details." I plan on using my travelers "who" contacts page to offer summaries of the main characters.
Two of my many self afflicting challenges are to write 400 words for every post and update twice a week. When I was updating every day I could only manage about 200 words. I have been thinking of updating once a week with perhaps 800-1000 words. Any advice is more than appreciated so thanks so much for your posts and comments.

DustinM said...

>>if ANY web-based fiction ever manages to find a wide audience, and maybe even crossover to print (as some non-fiction blogs have)- it'll be blog fiction.

I'm hoping so too!

Clint Hughes said...

I just started working on my own blog fiction, but I'd like to put in my two cents as both a reader and a writer:

I much prefer the long posts as it allows me to write in a more detailed way and get more story across in one post. My blog is a zombie apocalypse survivor's blog, telling his story as well as reaching out to any other survivors who might be on the web. Since it has a bit of a horror theme I try to build suspense as I tell the story--this is almost impossible for me to do with shorter posts (in fact, if you can pull it off, please tell me how!) Also, longer posts allow me to have episode-like posts: each story post is a part of the larger narrative but generally has a beginning, middle, and end, allowing it to work on its own just as well.

However, the shorter posts feel more "authentic" to the blog side of this medium. Most bloggers aren't writing 1000-word posts about their day-to-day (then again, most bloggers aren't running from zombies.) Also as you said the short posts are much easier to read.

I've been doing about an even number of each, some posts are around 300, some are more like 600-800. I have put a limit of 1000 words per post and have kept to it well so far. Not sure how well it works for the blog, but writing in this way works for what I'm doing with the story and feels right.

Hey, speaking of long posts... Sorry about that novel, haha!

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