So a couple of people have asked me now how to write up a popular thread of their own on this forum. A lot of them assume all has to do with what is written-- and as much as I wish that were true, there are a host of other factors at play, a lot of which is rarely taught, and is to be self-learned. I decided to share some of my tricks of the trade on how to effectively increase traffic flow to your work and make sure that your effort will be seen.Hopefully this will help differentiate those who are dedicated to their work, but for whatever reason, their effort is ignored or missed by the community at large. I'm going to order these factors in their importance, but by no means take this as law. This is simply an opinion on how to work the system, and you're more than welcome to ignore what I have to say or disagree.
[CENTER]1) Write Well
But it really is important; and I feel I have to make it clear that quality is what is most appreciated by this forum goers, whether your story is a 100,000 word long epic, or a short but sweet poem. Most of the dedicated readers here are veterans-- they've read a lot of fanfiction over their years and seen the gamut of quality from fantastic to abysmal. They're not going to waste time on something they think is sub-par. So above all, invest deeply in your quality, and you will open up the potential for response.
I'm not going to presume I'm qualified to instruct anyone on how to write-- there are plenty of more talented writers than me (Larcent), and I don't even know if I would be a good teacher or not. But I can tell you how to JUDGE your own writing... and that is simply to be interested in your own work. If you can go back, read what you wrote, and be sincerely interested and engaged by what you have composed, then by all means you have accomplished your own goal. That's really all there is to it. Don't be intimidated by the fancy nuance to advanced writing or whatever; though there is a lot of depth to that particular-- what you write must first be interesting.
2) You Don't Need a Good Title
|You need a great one|
There are 38 threads on the front page at any given time by my count, so 37 other threads that you have to compete with to get views. The number of people who bother to look further down the page decreases exponentially. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the entire rest of the this forum gets only 5% of the viewers as the combined front page.
What this means is that it is essential that during the first few posts-- I would say the first twenty or so-- that you grab as many fans as you can before your thread is buried to the second page. That way you will have a continual stream of people who will actively bump up your thread should you update; which will get you more people, which soon will cause more people to check out your thread by the popularity of it alone. I would estimate you would have 3 days on the front page at best.
Therefore your title is essential for attracting your thread. I know a few general tips to help optimize your thread so your hard work won't be passed over. Warning: this is not a substitute for quality writing. If you ignore #1, you essentially make your thread a revolving door; people pop in, then they bail out.
- The amount of meaning in your title must be very high, but concise. What do I mean by that? Well, it simply means, use simple words. Don't be overly verbose, especially in your title, if a clearer, simpler word can be used instead. To go a little deeper, the meaning of your words must be high in relation to how long it takes to say. Take, for example, the first draft of Dragon Rising [A Master Yi Story], named back then as Revenge and Rebirth [A Master Yi Story]. Now, at first glance they may seem similar-- but notice how little the words Revenge, Rebirth, actually mean to the reader. Ok, so Master Yi wants revenge. Something about rebirth. Whatever. It means little, sounds overtly poetic, and uses obscure language. Now, "Dragon Rising" is an improvement. It strikes more intrigue with less words. It somewhat sets the tone for a more epic journey. Be careful though, that you don't try to skimp out on words too much, or you end up with those overly poetic, dramatized titles that are so obscure not a person has a clue what your story is about, means, or what the style or type of content it is. People will avoid what they don't understand. Don't assume that people will push past their confusion to click on your thread, just because your word choice is pretty. Delivery of message trumps title length every time.
- Your title must grab them. Duh. People have to want to click on your thread. A good example is Kog'maw and Morgana's WTF Love Story. The title is long, but that works towards its favor and it's received well because the meaning was conveyed in about as concisely as a love story between Morg and Kog could be, along with informing the reader of its tongue-in cheek style while grabbing their attention. I guarantee you by the title along, everyone has visited that thread at least once. This is good. You want as much traffic as you can. A bad example is "Zed vs Shen story!" by Tseng88. It's decently written, but the title is vapid and inspires little to the imagination. Despite the OK writing, it died quickly because of the lack of traffic along with the terrible title most likely biasing readers against him, since it was so bad (I'll get into this in the next point). I know because Tseng88 is me, and that was an experiment by me-- to see exactly if a story could actually succeed on its own merits despite a god-awful title and an unknown author. It did not. Let that be a word of caution, then.
- Your Thread will form their impression of your work. If it's a bad title, they'll think more poorly of your work. If it's a good title, they may be more forgiving. This is because of psychology and how first impressions work-- but however it happens, it's still essential that you make your thread title as professional as possible. A good example is a professional looking title is NaNoWriMo: "Death Blindness" by Larcent. It smacks you over the head with how professional it seems; being written for this national writing contest, having a concise title, even besides it's top quality writing, it would have done well based off the prestige given to itself by the title alone. You don't want to pass up an advantage like that, not when you're competing with the rest of the forum for views and posts.
- They must know what the thread's about. If it's a love story, make your thread title like a love story. If it's an epic journey, make your word choice like they would for a hollywood fantasy action movie. If it's a comedy, throw puns and break conventions. You must tell your audience what you have before tell will decide what they want to see. It's the same deal with, say, a Youtube video, right? You're not going to click on a video despite not knowing what it's about, and then decide if it's good. You're going to browse for your interests and then sample based off of that.
That's it for now. If you guys found this helpful, let me know and I'll write up some more tricks of the trade. But for now, I got other stuff to do. My own story for one. Procrastinating again....
[CENTER]3) Spend Time Formatting Your Work[/CENTER]
This is part of your first impressions. Most people spend about 1 minute maximum browsing through a story to decide what the want to read. If you haven't hooked them by then, they're not going to waste their time; they already think they know all they need to know about what needs to be known. Word.
Anyhow, what this means is that you MUST format your work so that it is readable; since that is the first thing people notice in the initial ten seconds that they're looking around. If your work looks messy, convulted, or just plain unreadable, no one's going to fight their way through your formatting just to make sure they don't want to read it. This means capitalizing what needs to be capitalized, making absolutely sure your thread title is clear and properly spelled, this means formatting your chapter headings, your foot notes, even the flow of your paragraph structure to make your potential readers feel comfortable with your work.
Think of your readers as hotel customers. You want to make their stay aspleasant as possible. Even if that means spending an awful lot of time just messing with your formatting in the thread. It took me upwards of a half hour to finish the formatting I put up there, but paid off in readability and in the initial impressin I gave off.
[CENTER]4) Be Quick to Respond[/CENTER]
Your thread is going to get replies. People will be interested in what you do provided you managed to grab their attention in the first place. What's next is to improve the author-reader relationship by ensuring you promptly reply to everything and anything your fans have to say about your work. That way you'll establish that their comments and thoughts are valued and it will encourage them to post more, which means more time on the front page for your work.
|But Miao, shouldn't I wait as long as possible before replying so my work gets more time on the front page?|
5) If You Have To, There's No Shame in Bumping