Going to blogs for over a year, and reading at least six serialized novels – both after they were finished (Ex: MCA Hogarth’s Spots the Space Marine) and as they were being created (Ex: Sarah A. Hoyt’s Witchfinder) – as I’m trying to learn how to post my own serialized novel, PRIDE’S CHILDREN, has made me think hard about the process readers on the web use to navigate around on a blog, and through a novel posted online, and vow to make it easy for my readers if I possibly can. Each of the serialized novels I read had its own idiosyncrasies – some useful, some not so useful to me as a reader.
Have to add a link with my own choice of wording to the BOTTOM of POSTS (but not PAGES), and then link to the post itself, if I want someone reaching the END to be able to comment without scrolling (awkward) all the way back to the top before finding the ‘Leave a reply’ link this WordPress Theme provides for POSTS. [Edited to add: WordPress.com member justpi kindly explained that if I put #respond at the end of this link I created, it links directly to the comment field – instead of the top of the post – which is exactly what I wanted. 2/20/13]
Oddly enough, the PAGES are exactly the way I want them – with the link ‘Comment?’ at the BOTTOM – and the Discussion setting on the Dashboard allowing me to use my own wording (instead of the generic ‘Leave a reply’).
Live and learn. I was so worried about messing up the links by playing with the features, but I think the posts all survived.
The next part is perhaps more important: I needed to think how I want a reader to be able to read MY serialized novel. I want to make it easy both for readers who have been to my blog before, and just want to read the latest scene, AND new readers who come from, well, anywhere. I want navigation to be effortless: if there is more available to be read when a reader finishes a particular section, there should be an easy, quick, and obvious link to the next section.
If there is no link, it should mean there currently is no more. Since I’ll be posting scenes one at a time (they’re ~600-1500 words), I need to gather the scenes into Chapters once the complete set of scenes for a chapter is finished posting: it’s okay to POST the scenes individually, but, once a Chapter is complete, the reader should be able to read the CHAPTER as a whole, which, among other things such as pacing and flow, helps the title and the epigraphs at the beginning of each Chapter connect to the whole.
If you come into PRIDE’S CHILDREN via the menu at the top of the blog, you should end up directly at the very beginning – Book 1, Chapter 1, Scene 1 – or may choose the submenu to the Table of Contents, with links to each Chapter/scene; or the submenu labeled ‘Latest’, which takes you to the latest scene posted.
If you choose to put a Bookmark there in your browser for my serial, the Table of Contents will indicate which links you haven’t followed yet, thus showing you where you are in the story (if you haven’t cleared your History on your browser).
And – an argument for giving chapters titles – the entries in the ToC should list the Chapter Title, which also helps the reader remember what went before (if I do a good job of creating chapter titles).
Why do I care? Because I’m learning – and I’m practicing – and the last thing I need to do is alienate readers with clunky navigation. This topic extends to awkward navigation WITHIN ebooks, so the learning will carry over. It takes time to set things up – which is one of the main reasons for letting a blog grow bit by bit, reading a LOT of other blogs, and examining a LOT of ebooks.
This navigation system for PC is under construction, and can be amended as necessary. It will be finished by the end of Wednesday (2/20/13) if all goes well. [Updated 11:50pm: it is operational.]
[Updated to add: Even though I MAY have figured out a good navigation system for the serialized novel, there are so few people who might be interested in the details it’s not worth spending blog space on it. If you are one of the tiny number of newbie bloggers and newbie novel serializers who like my version – just contact me.]
Anyone who read this far: thanks for your patience with this esoteric topic – and I’d LOVE to hear from you.