Creating a Web Fiction Series – Episode Two: Researching and Brainstorming (You Know, the Fun Stuff)

Hey, an image of crumbled pieces of paper. How original! So anyway, in the last post we stumbled upon a winning war strategy:

  1. Gotta be brief
  2. Resonates with readers
  3. Pushes them boundaries
  4. Gots to be meaningful

Now it’s time to brainstorm some ideas. I had a couple of ideas for a series as I’ve mentioned before, but they’re kinda shit, so let’s try to come up with something new. Something fresh. Something that “resonates with readers” and “pushes them boundaries.”

(*15 minutes pass*)

Um…er…maybe if I…

(*goes outside, walks around for a bit then goes back in after realizing the sun isn’t his friend.*) 

Okay, maybe we should look at some web fiction series and draw inspiration there. I’ve noticed that a lot of web fiction centers on or includes the following:

  • superheros, probably due to the popularity of Worm.
  • sprawling fantasy worlds filled with lots of lore
  • supernatural beings and magic
  • a young, angsty protagonist
  • science fiction elements such as spaceships and time travel

Let’s see what we got here. First off, I’m not really all that interested in writing about superheroes. Maybe I can write a superhero as a side-character who causes more destruction than good, or is simply a delusional normie. But for the most part I’m not interested in the genre; if we end-up writing something within that vein I would want to try something somewhat different, or at least attempt to use a different angle like telling the story from the villain’s perspective, or hone in on some random thug who keeps getting beaten-up by “supers.”

As for fantasy, I’ve got a soft-spot for it thanks to growing-up with games like Baldur’s Gate, but for whatever reason I could never get into fantasy serials. Either because many of them are too “lore-dense” or they don’t approach the genre from a fresh perspective. Many seem like merely transcibed DnD adventures. If I decide to write a fantasy I would try to put things on a smaller scale. Either focus on some random peasant trying to make his way through the world of heroes and dragons, or create a “blog-diary” of a young goblin who doesn’t want to pillage and rape anymore, opting instead to become a hero of some sort.

“Supernatural beings and magic,” is kinda vague, I know, but I’ve seen elements of either magical realism, or things like ghosts, as center-pieces for a lot of web fiction. I’m kind of interested in doing something similar. Maybe something like The House of Spirits where strange, “magical” shit happens, and people just kind of deal with it without question. I could also include more traditional stuff like vampires and zombies and all that neat stuff. I had an idea previously about a pizza deliveryman who gets caught-up in such craziness. Maybe I can revive that idea. Or do something similar to The Adventures of Norman Oklahoma, a serial about a private detective whose cases often involve the strange and supernatural–a combo of noir and magical realism, two genres I’m interested in.

I’ve also noticed that many a web fiction feature an angsty, young protagonist. This isn’t bad in-of-itself, but because it’s so common I want to try to avoid it, or dampen it by either making the protagonist self-aware. I also want to try to avoid the “reluctant hero” crap.

And science fiction, while not my favorite genre, is one with a lot of potential. I want to avoid doing the typical Star Trek/space opera thing of people flying around and shooting at aliens, but, if going down this route, I would want to do something closer to what Jason Sanford does with his stories: using science fiction ideas or fantastical events to explore some aspect of humanity. Kind of similar to The Twilight Zone, but with a greater focus on the characters.

So…I guess from the above you can kind of tell what type of fiction series I’m probably going to end-up writing. Here are the basic ideas that I’m interested in after researching some other web serials:

  • slice-of-life, focusing on more everyday struggles
  • a protagonist who isn’t super-whiny, but may still have internal conflicts
  • possibly some science fiction/fantastical elements, but nothing too overbearing
  • a slight philosophical bent, but doesn’t take itself too seriously

Ayyyyyy, so we’ve got something here, sorta. Next time I will hone in on these ideas and try to actually come up with an actual story. See you next time, ya fucks.

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