Episode Five Afterword

October Update

I’m just writing this to say that I’ll be writing a proper October-y update post (and monthly updates from henceforth) later in the week. If you’ve got this page bookmarked, you might want to head over to this page, since I’ve taken this one out of the loop during my recent tidy up. Hurrah.

September 4th Update

Just a quick update for those of you who have this page bookmarked (or have landed here after finishing Episode Five): I took a couple of weeks off writing to de-stress and get my shit together. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to work on updating the site and planning out what I have to write for 2017. After that, I’m going back to Episode Six to try and iron out its problems. If I have time, I might make some minor (non-story) edits to Episodes Four and Five as well, to try and improve their overall quality.

August 14th Update

Episode Six is a bit of a mess at the moment, but it’s getting there. This happened with the draft I wrote last year, too. I guess it’s something of a sticking point. That’s writing for you, though! As a consequence, however, Episode Six will be it for this year: once I’ve dealt with it, I’m going to work on seven through twelve in bulk, a draft of which will likely take me until the end of the year, with Episode Seven itself, hopefully, premiering early 2017.

I should probably update the site at some point to cover this general shift away from weekly instalments to whenever-the-hell-they’re-ready ones XD

July 25th Update

“Don’t worry, this isn’t a big delay – a week, maybe two…”

I should keep my mouth shut. At least, unlike when I was serialising seven years ago, I don’t have to stress myself out worrying over thousands of readers potentially abandoning the story because of a few delays. Presently, I’ve not even a fraction of the readership the original series had … and I’m glad? It’s made it easier to find my pace – which, as I suspected, is about 40 chapters a year, max. That’s about 180,000 words, or a roughly 600 page novel. I’m happy with that.

And yes, I started serialising this a year ago, so I guess the first anniversary will be fairly muted XD Expect Episode Six to start soon, though, unless the final couple of chapters give me a lot of hassle. I won’t name any dates (though I have a pretty good idea myself) just in case things fall apart again.

In the meantime, I’ve separated the archives into main story and “extra material”, which, at present, contains the examination pieces. I’ll be adding, well, extra material to that in time, possibly including deleted scenes and suchlike, for those interested in see how things change/evolve (and why they always take me so long…).

July 4th Update

Hello! And if you came here from the extralude, this is not a glitch.

I’m still working on Episode Six… I could start releasing it, but I’d rather hold off until everything is ready. Don’t worry, this isn’t a big delay – a week, maybe two, depending on how things go – and I figure that, since the majority of people seem to bookmark the last page in the sequence (ie. this one) it’s easy to stick the announcement here.

As for the whole plan to release stuff in the meantime? Well, that didn’t really work out XD The first piece was much longer than intended, and I rushed it out before I was happy with it. With that in mind, I’m going to make sure I build up a backlog of pieces to put out when my backlog of chapters runs out (dawg).

But yeah. Delays! I’d rather delay than rush things, though. Between work and illness, I can’t always write as much, or as often (or, indeed, as well) as I would like. These things happen. As far as this specific delay is concerned, I also put some blame on local politics. It’s hard to focus when your country has just decided to throw itself off a cliff.

Although, saying that, it did give me some inspiration for a short story or two…

(Meanwhile, I updated the cast page with fancy toggles. It might not look it, but it took about as much work as the average chapter! Thankfully, I just have to make additions from now on…)

Well, this is new! I thought it might be a better place to post the schedule for the next few months, and it also gives me a chance to “discuss things”. If you’re reading this in the future (ie. there’s no ‘to be continued’ at the bottom of the page) then feel free to ignore this and continue with the story.

First up, the important thing: the schedule for Episode Six!

13th through 27th of June: Extraludes (see below)
4th July: Chapter 42
11th July: Chapter 43
18th July: Chapter 44
25th July: Chapter 45
1st August: Chapter 46
8th August: Chapter 47
15th August: Chapter 48
22nd August: Chapter 49
29th August: Chapter 50
5th September: Interlude
12th September: Examination/Afterword

This should be accurate, but, if I can work it, I want to try and cut the episode down to eight chapters, rather than nine. That I’m still working on (the third draft of) episode six is one of the reasons I’m introducing “extraludes”. They’re a bit like interludes in that they’re only a single, short scene, but, unlike interludes, they’re not a part of the main narrative. They’re basically side-stories to give the secondary and minor characters a chance to shine, and to generally broaden the scope of the story. The first one involves Theseus and a minotaur.

And, you know, they give me a chance to take a breath and not overstress myself ;) Episodes Four and Five kinda did that. A lot. I think it shows in places. But yeah, I’d rather not repeat that, so extraludes it is!

Not that they don’t come with their fare share of stress. One thing I’ve learned since I started serialising last summer is that a lot of these self-published series, be they through an independent website (like this), something like Wattpad, or straight to Amazon, is that they publish a lot of content. Like, a lot. Ten thousand words a week, twenty, sometimes even thirty. It’s what you “have” to do to maintain your audience, allegedly.

I’m not sure I believe it. Even ten thousand words a week is a lot. That would be like writing ‘the Lord of the Rings’ in a year (it took Tolkien twelve). Nor do I buy this “readers aren’t bothered about mistakes if the story is free” reasoning. I find the idea of posting what is effectively a first draft online and letting my readers take up the mantle of proofing distinctly uncomfortable (as did the other writers I asked). If people are going to spend their time reading my work, I feel I should at least respect them enough to deliver a quality product. That’s why I have interludes and examinations (and now extraludes): so I can put the time in to making sure things are up to standard. I mean, a single chapter takes anywhere from thirty to forty hours of work (hell, that examination on the previous page took a good five, thanks to the various rewrites and my – probably failed – attempts to channel the spirit of a twenty-something Guardian journalist). If anyone is expecting me to take up a three-instalments-a-week schedule, they had better provide me with the time-manipulation technology to do so :p

So, yeah, the idea that I’m not publishing nearly enough to appease the fickle denizens of the Internet can be somewhat stressful, but I assume that, if you’ve stayed with the story this far, you’re probably happy with the pacing. Either that, or you’re very quiet about criticising it!

On a more positive note, I’ve been working on a better cast page, which will allow you to switch between main and full listings, as well as toggle spoilers on/off. I just need to put the actual information together. That, as well as the ebook for Episode Five (which, I assume, you web reading types won’t be all that interested in) will pop up over the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can look forward to Episode Six starting in July with the news that it won’t be as focused on Dante and Emily as the previous episodes. That’s right, it’s time to get pretentious with Byron!

(Also, while I’m here, although those links down there make me feel awfully uncomfortable, votes and stuff can help “spread the word”, and anyone who donates, be it through Patreon or PayPal, will be contributing to my “commission an artist for cool portraits and shiz” fund. Every little helps!)

10 Comments

  • Charidan says:

    I don’t think anyone is worried about your schedule being too slow at this point. I was around during the “original” (very different) Phantasia story and stuck around for the 50-60 chapters or so that it ran. And then I waited the seven years or whatever it ended up being for the chance to read this story. If I can wait for literal years on this tale, an extra week between chapters is nothing.

    If I learned anything from my dead-end writing attempts in high school and hours of GMing roleplaying games, it’s that nothing is quite as limiting as something you’ve already written that doesn’t work right. Taking the time to iron out the details now will save you a lot of headache in the long run and make the story as a whole quicker and better.

    • Dary says:

      I’m starting to wonder if everyone who has read this far is, in fact, a veteran of the original XD Which is great and all, but would also mean my recent attempts at promotion have pretty much fallen flat. I guess that’s the internet of 2016 for you.

      One of the issues seems to be that a lot of the sites that deal with internet fiction have a(n unintended) bias towards stories that update multiple times a week. That allows them to hog the “newly updated” listings, whilst burying those that release at a slower rate. And, naturally, that drives some people to write even more to keep from falling into obscurity, and as the quantity ramps up, the quality declines. It’s a race-to-the-bottom mentality, a contest to see who will be the first to write ten thousand words a day, every day. It’s going to collapse in on itself eventually.

      You can see similar patterns with self-published writers on Amazon. You need to have multiple books written before you can even hope to get noticed, because that’s how you play the rankings. And you have to keep releasing more books at a fair clip after that, or all your work will be for naught as another prolific author rises up to take your place. It’s gotten so bad that some authors will plagiarise other books, just to fill gaps in their release schedule.

      My current plan is simply to make sure than I’m still standing in five years time XD

      • Charidan says:

        I don’t even remember how I found Phantasia Celeste the first time. I don’t browse fic sites, so it had to have been through webcomics somehow. Most of the new stuff I find these days that isn’t a referral from a friend I get through the mini-ads on other webcomics or the banner ads on Piperka (a sweet webcomic update tracker).

        In general I agree that there probably needs to be better systems at hub sites so that gaming the system at least encourages good writing, instead of the mess it trends towards right now. Given that we can fix that though, staying standing seems like a good priority to place focus on. Writing can really burn you out.

        I remember back in college when I put down a really simple revenge story into comic form. I had the whole thing planned out in advance, and then I spent about 10 hours a day for two weeks just making all the pages. Shitty, I-can’t-actually-draw pages which amount to low-quality sketches without shading and no color. I ended up with 16 pages, which seems respectable, but pales before any webcomic I’ve ever read. And I did *nothing* else for those two weeks, to the point I had trouble remembering anything else for a while afterwards. Art is hard.

        • Dary says:

          I suspect it was through a webcomic. That’s how most people find me! I think I actually ran ads on Piperika (I certainly have this past year, at least – not sure about six-seven years ago).

          I did the comic thing at high school too, but I didn’t even make it past three pages (despite having enough story plotted out that, had I continued, I’d likely still be working on it…). Perseverance is the key. That and time. One of the interesting things with long-running comics (mainly webcomics, but sometimes certain manga, too) is that you can see the artist’s growth over time.

          Saying that, some of them work 15-hour days, seven days a week, which is insane. I’m stressed enough just trying to fit in 5-6 hours a day!

      • LurkerNoMore says:

        I’ve read this far, and am a new reader. My interest was peaked via ads, but I only actually went to the site when it was featured as a new listing on WFG. You can rest easier knowing that the ads, at least have been (moderately) successful- I rarely follow any of the links on webfiction curators without a TON of prior reviews.

        • Dary says:

          It took me a while to get a new listing, because this serial is based on one from years back, which was itself already listed – and its near impossible to generate activity from an existing listing unless you attract the sort of people who will rate/vote/review. Most of my audience has always come from webcomics, oddly enough. With the old serial, it was something ludicrous like 98% of the readers, and there seemed to be very little audience crossover with other serials (and, thusly, the sites that curate them – meanwhile, someone had registered this site on a webcomic list within the first week of release XD). That’s why I’ve always urged other writers to look outside the established webfiction niche for their audience. It’s a big internet!

          At least ads continue to work, even if internet advertising has almost collapsed in on itself. I was going to some more over summer, but recent events have caused the pound to tank, thus increasing the potential expense. I should probably emigrate before it’s too late…

  • Andrich says:

    I, too, was reading this in it’s old format once upon a time. I kind of miss the old character doodles, but I could argue that leaving details up to our imagination is a deliberate element in a story so interwoven with myth of the Fair Folk. Don’t fret about the demands of other formats; this is your story to tell. Anyone who appreciates it and wants to listen will be here for however long it takes to tell.

    • Dary says:

      I miss drawing stuff as well, but it started to take up almost as much time as the actual writing! That, and i didn’t want people to presume my illustrations were the “canon” interpretations – especially when you have characters who appear differently for different people because of glamours and shiz.

  • Charidan says:

    Heads up Dary: The link to interlude 5 in the archive is broken. I assume you changed the URL or something, since my bookmark to this page also broke (which is fine).

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