February 10, 2020
The web fiction space is rapidly expanding. Compiled below are 10 of the best websites to read web novels and fiction online.
I’ve also recommended a web series from each site.
(The list is not in any particular order other than my personal preference.)
Royal Road offers free web fiction uploaded by its community of writers. No need to pay to get access to chapters, although there is a subscription option if you want to remove ads. Easy signup for reading and writing. Several long, ongoing series here that can’t be found elsewhere.
Good for: Entry point into reading and writing web fiction.
Recommended Story: The Wandering Inn (Fantasy)
Owned by a big Chinese corp, webnovel.com offers both English originals and translated Chinese stories and comics. They have a cumbersome power stone and spirit system that ultimately tries to get you to spend money to get access to the latest chapters of their premium stories.
Good for: Translations of popular Chinese web fiction. Reading on your phone through their app.
Recommended Story: Reincarnation of The Strongest Sword God (Video Game, Reincarnation)
Wattpad was the undisputed leader of web fiction for a while. They’re a bit heavier on the teen romance stories. The reading experience can get a bit annoying with ads if you aren’t a paid subscriber.
Good for: Massive library of English web fiction (especially for teens). Reading on your phone through their app.
Recommended Story: Confessions About Colton (Mystery)
Gravity Tales does translations of Chinese and Korean light novels and web fiction, plus it hosts a handful of English originals. A lot of cultivation stuff here.
Good for: Translations of popular Chinese and Korean franchises.
Recommended Story: King of Gods (Martial Arts, Cultivation)
Wuxia World is another hosting and translation site, mostly focused on Chinese xianxia stories, though they do also have a few Korean translations and English originals.
Good for: Translations of popular Chinese xianxia franchises.
Recommended Story: Against the Gods (Fantasy, Action)
Fiction Press is one of the older repositories of web fiction, now running for two decades. The site seems to be a bit less active than some of the others in this list, but some of their long-running entries are still going.
Good for: English fiction and poetry.
Recommended Story: Mother of Learning (Fantasy)
Web Fiction Guide doesn’t actually host web fiction but acts as a directory for authors across the internet. Good spot to find fiction by authors who only host on their own websites. They also run topwebfiction.com, which does a ranking of ongoing series.
Good for: Updates and reviews of original web fiction.
Recommended Story: Worm (Superhero)
Inkitt is actually a boutique publisher, but they also host web fiction. They seem to offer publishing contracts to the popular stories that get submitted to their site. Often it’s an ebook deal published through Amazon Kindle.
Good for: A community of writers that read and review each other’s work.
Recommended Story: Human (Scifi, Romance)
Tapas is a digital publishing company that publishes user-created (and owned) comics and web novels. They are more widely known as a mobile-publishing platform, but they also run a website.
Good for: Reading comics and fiction novels on your phone.
Recommended Story: Immortal Soul (Comedy)
Scribble Hub is a fast-growing site for original web fiction. The stories here are entirely free and they have a setup similar to Royal Road. Quite a bit of harem and fantasy trending here.
Good for: Reading web fiction without ads.
Recommended Story: The Villainess’s Redemption (Fantasy)
If you see a site you think should be on this list, please let me know in the comments below!
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Even a Hero Needs a Vacation Every Now and Then is my web fiction novel.
It tells the story of Archibold Stormblood, the greatest hero in the world of Visseria. He’s spent his 221-year life training and fighting, and now that the Mad King is dead and the Demon Lord is defeated, all he wants is a well-deserved vacation living as a humble tavern keeper and brewmaster in his 19-year-old body.
But despite his best efforts to avoid conflict, trouble keeps finding its way back into his life.
Will Arch be able to hide his true identity as The Stormblood and maintain his peaceful existence running the Tipsy Pelican Tavern with his growing staff of beautiful barmaids? Or will he be sucked into the new troubles brewing around him?
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Slice of Life
You can read the story for free here.
July 24, 2019
I haven’t watched an anime that has put me on the edge of my seat like Attack On Titan Season 3 Part 2 has in years. This is some peak Game of Thrones-equivalent writing. There were moments where I literally thought Oh wow, my heart is POUNDING.
As a web novel writer, I’ve read countless books on plotting, character creation, and narrative structure. I’m still by no means an expert, but what has happened is that whenever I consume fiction, there’s a piece of my brain that is constantly viewing it from a “creator’s” angle. I’m guessing what happens next not based on the world or the story but based on “what techniques and formulas will the author use to make a good story.”
Sometimes I’m right about my guesses and sometimes I’m wrong. The point is, there’s always a part of me that isn’t entirely engaged–a piece that’s experiencing the story while being aware that it is just a story. It’s an unfortunate cost to anyone who makes a hobby into a profession. Comedians go through the same thing. They often hear a joke and instead of laughing, they’ll think “Ah, you used this method to create the humor in that joke.”
But then, every now and then, something comes along that totally sucks me in. Attack On Titan Season 3 completely transported me. I forgot where I was and what I was doing. It had my full attention and focus, and I was dying to find out what happened next. I felt a full range of emotions as conflicts played out on screen. It completely blew my mind.
That, ladies and gentleman, is what great storytelling is all about.
But now that I have finished the season, I’d like to break down a few reasons for why Attack on Titan is so captivating.
Like Game of Thrones, viewers are completely aware of and believe in the stakes of the story. These primarily include the end of humanity and the death of characters we love. The latter of these is the most important.
Too often in high concept stories, the stakes are only “the end of humanity.” That’s extremely intangible and also unbelievable.
If humanity does end, the story is over. But if a character we love dies, we have to live with it and we have to watch the surviving characters live with it. That matters. More importantly, it makes us feel real emotions.
Another pitfall of high concept stories built around secrets is that often it feels like the secrets are made up as the story progresses (see Lost). But with Attack on Titan, you know you are in good hands.
As details of the mysterious history of the world unfold, we find ourselves deeper and deeper in a rabbit hole built on excellent worldbuilding. Things that were strange in the beginning are starting to make sense.
The picture that is forming before our eyes is being put together by perfectly shaped puzzle pieces. Anyone can make up weird happenings. It takes a real genius to explain them in a way that works in the world they’ve created.
Even the villains. Especially the villains. We feel empathy for their perspectives and motivations, yet we still hate them as they kill and harm the characters we love.
There are no simple characters. Each is unique and real. Because of this, no character feels like they were created to serve a tool to forward the plot. Rather, they each could be the main character of their own stories. That is an incredible feat.
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I have nothing but envy and love for Attack on Titan’s creator, Hajime Isayama. The man is a storytelling god.
Oh, and I should mention it has some of the best animation of this decade.
So if you haven’t seen Attack on Titan yet or the latest season, go check it out, and for several moments, you’ll forget that you weren’t born behind a wall.
May 13, 2019
Sometimes when I watch isekai anime, I feel like I’m just watching a dream of the creator’s disturbing fantasies. The author of the Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody light novels, which the anime is based upon, is apparently really into underaged slaves.
But he’s choosing not to sleep with them despite their lust for him!
Uh okay, but why did the writer make these prepubescent kids lust for him in the first place?
The story is about a 28-year-old programmer who finds himself in a game world resembling some that he helped design. He quickly becomes overpowered and builds a seven-person harem with a median age of twelve.
Is the MC, Satou, a worthy male lead? No.
Do the female characters have unique and interesting personalities? No.
Should you watch this anime? Probably not.
Death March isn’t so terrible that you can’t get through it. The worldbuilding is, in fact, better than average, as are the skill and video game mechanics. And aside for one or two god-awful-is-that-the-FBI-knocking-on-my-door? moments, the ecchi scenes aren’t overdone.
But the series boils down to this: Everything comes easily to Satou and everyone thinks he’s the best. The end.
If that’s the escapism you want, go for it. Otherwise, try something else.
May 2, 2019
Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (Rising of the Shield Hero) is an isekai anime, where the main character is transported to a fantasy world, and in this case, it’s a semi game-based one.
Just with this information alone, you can probably guess the entire plot. He’s a loser in real life, super overpowered in the game world, the ladies love him, there’s a mysterious yet uninteresting bad guy to defeat, story logic is constructed by toddlers, and a fantasy world backstory as bland and generic as dollar canned soup.
Yet, as of today, the series has a score of 8.36 on myanimelist (anything above an 8 is typically decent).
So I checked it out. It went like this:
It’s fascinating to me that this run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter series is, in fact, rather addictive, and I think it boils down to this: Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari is a rags to riches story. Hollywood loves this trope, especially in gangster movies—this is the anime equivalent. Instead of impoverished immigrant to mafia boss, this is more along the lines of fun monkey boy to alien Super Saiyan.
Without spoiling the story too much (although let’s not kid ourselves here, there’s little to spoil), Tate has a few other quirks going for it.
The main character starts at what appears as a disadvantage—stuck with only a shield instead of a legendary weapon — but this turns in his favor, which we’re all expecting, but unfortunately, it happens all too quickly.
The story also plays with the MMORPG “party” concept a bit—where you’ve got one character that’s a tank and one that’s the DPS hitter.
Oh, and of course, our MC has slave girls.
Let’s be honest, this is a major draw for male anime audiences, myself somewhat included if I’m honest.
But from a prefrontal cortex point of view, I can’t help but feel bad for the voice actresses that have to spout the most ridiculous and embarrassing lines imaginable.
What makes it worse is that Naofumi, our honorable “Yuusha” (hero), is a grade-A emo whiner (it’s actually one of his shield skills), so the girls have to continuously hold up his ego or else he gets all sad and insecure.
I have an uncomfortable gut feeling that this aspect is actually what a lot of aforementioned male audiences enjoy.
I don’t get it myself, but it seems like there’s some kind of mental masturbation and wish fulfillment going on here, where the guy acts like a huge immature dick and the girls love him anyway.
Will I finish the series?
It would be a done deal if every episode were out already. But I don’t know if new episodes are wait-able… as in, there’s a good chance I’ll start something new and forget all about the sniveling shield hero.
I hear it’s interesting to be reincarnated as a slime…