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The keys to effective webnovel storytelling

The keys to effective webnovel storytelling The keys to effective webnovel storytelling
In this article:

    Our research indicates that in addition to Immediate, Engaging, and Commercial, the following qualities are important to a story’s success on Wattpad: 


    The most successful Wattpad stories are ones that focus on big emotions and deliver emotional highs and lows right off the bat. This is part of why we emphasize hook in the first chapter–to give the reader an emotional experience right away. Emotional information is easier to digest and retain than technical information or description, and so you are more likely to hook and retain your reader with emotion. Readers remember how a story makes them feel. Focusing on big, intense emotions that play out in easily digestible ways allows your readers to stay engaged in the story and retain information even in the midst of distraction.


    Wattpad readers love tropes! Part of the function of tropes for the distracted reader is to provide a ready-built framework to understand the story.  It’s a kind of shorthand that tells the reader about the kind of experience they’re going to have, so they can decide up front if they want to dedicate their time to it. A reader who’s after an enemies to lovers romance wants that specific dynamic, and putting the tropes up front in the story allows them to figure out quickly if a story is going to give them what they want.


    Approachability refers to how complex the setting is–that is, how easy it is to understand the story’s world, how it works, and why it matters to the protagonists.  A story is approachable when it does not require a lot of specialized knowledge to connect to and understand. When specialized knowledge is required for the story, it is introduced in an easy-to-understand manner that brings the reader into the world of the story. The key to approachability is to ground the world in the characters’ emotions, and to avoid infodumping. Remember that readers retain emotions better than facts, so if you want readers to retain an aspect of your setting, couple it with an emotional moment or reaction in order to make it meaningful. For more info on approachability, see Commercial 301.  For information on approachability in speculative fiction worldbuilding, see Worldbuilding 201 and 301 

    Relevant and focused

    Narrative focus is extremely important in webnovel storytelling. In order to keep your reader engaged, you need to keep delivering the emotional experience they’re looking for. While in a traditionally published book there might be room for digressions and side-plots, in a Wattpad story, every scene and every chapter needs to deliver on the promise to the reader. The distracted reader has a limited attention span and inclination to retain information, so make sure that all the information you give them is relevant to the story and to their emotional experience. 


    Story pacing is incredibly important for keeping your reader’s attention. A story where events progress quickly and chapters end with well-placed cliffhangers is one that offers fewer off-ramps for the distracted reader’s attention.

    Linear narrative

    Try to keep flashbacks, flash forwards, time skips, and prologues to a minimum. The exception to this is the flash forward hook, but in general, try to tell the story in a straightforward, linear fashion. This is easier for a distracted reader to understand and retain, which in turn keeps them engaged in the story. 

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