Fiction Writing Online

Online Fiction as a Genre (POV and Framing Devices)

Online fiction (that is fiction written specifically for online communities that are not literary journals) has two characteristics that set it apart from other genres. Of course, not every piece of online fiction will have these two characteristics, but the vast majority will. Almost all online fiction is written in the first person and has a framing device that allows the character to directly address the reader.

I’m trying to make a distinction between “fiction that happens to appear in online spaces” and “fiction written for the online space.” Online fiction is a genre distinct from the short story because it has much higher word counts and is serialized and from traditional novels because a single serialized volume typically contains many distinct plots, each able to be separated. The genre resembles short story collections in its form but is often presented as a longer or shorter work. There’s also the tendency of certain genres of online fiction to pretend to be nonfiction or otherwise disguise themselves (online horror fiction is a particular offender here), and the different communities that make up the larger picture. I feel confident in categorizing online fiction as its own distinct genre and within it characterizing several sub-genres. On their own, framing devices and first-person POV do not define the genre, but they are two of the common characteristics.

Framing Devices and First Person POV

Framing devices are common in fiction and literature, but they are far more common online than in traditional and self-publishing, where you may find books written as journals and letters, but not nearly as many written as blog and forum posts. Online fiction frequently takes these forms because the genre originated on early forum sites and blogs, and it still inhabits these places today. Even on web platforms that offer editorial support and a variety of genres, the vast majority of stories will be written as if addressing the reader. Dracula, Frankenstein, and Sherlock Holmes are all written with framing devices like those found in online fiction, but none of these works address the reader directly in the same way.

First Person POV is common in online fiction for the same reasons: writers are writing from a character directly to the reader. It would be very odd if a story written with a framing device then appeared in the first person. There are a lot of online fiction stories, however, that take the Sherlock Holmes approach. John Watson narrates the entirety of the Sherlock Holmes series from the first person, but the events very rarely center on him. Similarly, stories like “The Left-Right Game” by Jack Townsend and nearly all of the “Unsettling Stories” by Max Lobdell use first-person narrators that are not the main characters of the story. Rhetorically, a story framed like this is more believable than a first-person protagonist or a third-person narration, which is why it’s used to much online.

I believe that online fiction used first person and framing devices because it originally developed on forums, message boards, and blogs. Outside of fiction communities, all three of these platforms are used to communicate directly between users: the writer and the reader. Online fiction mimicked these formats because the writers were most comfortable writing in that style.

This is all good news for aspiring online fiction writers, especially those of us who are still young by writing standards. Most internet natives instinctively write in the style of online fiction already, and it’s a very simple style to use. Your narrator will define almost everything about how your story is written, and their perceptions of events will be the one the readers get. The readers get to enjoy an easy reading experience, written in a colloquial tone and style that makes the writing appealing and fun. There’s a lot to love about the form online fiction takes.

Fiction Writing Online

Where to Post Fiction Online


Once you’ve decided that you want to post fiction online, the next question to ask yourself is where you want your work to appear.

The common wisdom among freelance writers is to maintain a personal blog and to direct all of your readers while you post your work elsewhere online. The most common web platforms for this type of work are Medium and LinkedIn because they are the most open to individual writers. However, a freelance writer should be writing for other websites, blogs, etc.

Much of this advice applies to online fiction. It’s always wise to maintain a personal website, blog, and social media that your readers can follow. The main difference is that as a fiction writer, you are less likely to gain traction from your personal blog or on the same platforms, and monetizing your content will be a different process.

There are a huge variety of platforms that allow you to publish your fiction online. Most have their positives and negatives, and you may find that more than one suits your needs as a writer.

Here are a few common websites you may want to post your fiction on:


Summary: Medium works best for literary short fiction and (occassionally) poetry. You can join their partner program to possibly make money and submit to their small online publications to help build an audience for your work. However, the site is mostly geared towards nonfiction content, so you'll have better luck with essays than short stories.

Medium is a mostly nonfiction-focused platform that looks highly curated, like a professional publication with editors, but in reality, allows anyone to make an account and post content. A writer has the option to submit their work to be reviewed by editors, but it’s not mandatory. This is a double-edged sword, but for the fiction writer, it can be quite appealing. You won’t get comprehensive feedback on the quality of your writing, but you will know if you’re on the right track, and your work will look glossy beside all the other widely-read.

Importantly, you can make money on Medium. Their system for reimbursing their writers is explained here. I’m not going to sugar-coat this: you are unlikely to make even enough to buy a cup of coffee on Medium as a fiction writer. Their system works well for large, established writers who cover current events and political subject matter. It does not work very well for fiction writers or poets.

These days, most literary publications don’t pay either, though, so maybe the possibility of a little money is worth it.

There are several publications on Medium that will host your work and send it out in newsletters. These function in the same way print and independent online journals do, but if they reject you, your story will still be out there, tagged, on the website.

The biggest drawback of Medium for fiction writers is that the platform is meant for nonfiction, and that is what it promoted most. However, if you’re writing literary fiction, and you hate the long turn-around times on traditional journals, Medium might just be the place for you. Genre writers, unfortunately, do not do as well here.


Summary: Tapas is best for long-form genre fiction with a strong narrative voice. The stories that thrive here are similar to YA novels and contain heavy romantic themes. They have plenty of stories with LGBTQ+ characters. Novels with more "literary" aspects don't seem to perform as well here.
Because of the serialization aspect, stand-along short-stories will not do very well here.

Tapas brands itself as the “Youtube for Storytellers.” Their platform is focused on comics and serialized long-form fiction. Like Medium, anyone can publish on Tapas and submit their work to the editorial staff. Unlike Medium, these editors will help to develop and edit your writing. The novel writing team at Tapas is very new, but so far, their work looks promising.

Tapas has several things going for it. It’s well-known and has a good reputation; it’s friendly to genre fiction and the LGBT community, and it offers monetization options. Premium users are given the option to support creators directly. The sorting method gives your work a chance to be seen even if you’re brand new to the platform.

Genre fiction (fantasy and sci-fi especially) suffer from a distinct lack of publication options and a general disdain in the traditional publication space, yet they are wildly popular. Tapas is definitely taking advantage of this.

If Tapas does have a downside, it’s that their platform is so heavily tied to genre, romantic, and YA-style fantasy that a writer with other sensibilities might not be able to get a foothold. A high fantasy novel in the style of Tolkein, for instance, may not be able to gain momentum very quickly. I say “might,” because I have no real evidence of this. It’s pure instinct on my part and may be completely off base.

3. Wattpad

Summary: A huge online platform for both original fiction and fanfiction. Has a reputation for poor-quality writing, but is long-standing and offers paid opportunities and writing contests.
Longer-form stories will perform better on Wattpad than standalong pieces.

I will not lie to you: I haven’t spent much time on Wattpad. When I was in middle and high school, it had a reputation for being a disorganized fanfiction platform where writers threw story ideas without much thought.

Wattpad is probably the longest-standing website on this list. It has a reputation for having young writers and readers and for not moderating its content very well. This has not changed. The tagging system allows fanfiction and original fiction to mix, and it becomes pretty clear that the fanfiction performs better overall.

While there’s a wide array of ontent on the site, Wattpad is most known for its romantic and erotic stories (in fact it just started publishing original adult fiction under its own publishing label), so those stories are more likely to thrive on the platform.

There is a program for being paid for your writing with direct support from readers, and the editors will develop your work with you if you match their standards already.

Because of the fanfiction, I don’t feel I can recommend Wattpad for a writer who wants to keep their fan writing and original writing separated. However, if you already have a fanfiction following on the website, it is probably easier to transition into writing original fiction there with good results.

Overall, I have to acknowledge the critical place that Wattpad holds in the online fiction space, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be posting there.

Other Platforms

These three platforms are the largest and most promising for the everyday writer, but there are numerous others available with only a single web search. Commaful, for example, is geared towards short stories and poems. r/NoSleep is specifically for horror stories, and serialized horror performs very well there. Other websites have specific audiences in mind.

The important thing about choosing a platform for your fiction is that you choose a website with the right genres and audience. Fantasy goes on a site for fantasy, romance on a site for romance, and erotic fiction on a site for erotic fiction. If your story is suitable for an audience in their teens, make sure that the platform you choose has teens already in its user base.

After you’ve selected a platform, connect your social media and whatever adjacent websites you want to associate with your writing, and make sure that your readers can find you there. Then, you just have to post your work! The appeal of a platform is that it will, like traditional publishing, bring readers to you. You might still promote your work to relevant communities or on social media, but if your writing is good, the readers will come to you!

Fiction Writing Online

Should You Post Fiction Online? Who Reads It If You Do?

Everything else is online: why shouldn’t fiction be? That’s the question that writers, amateur and professional, have been asking themselves for the last few years now. After all, it’s the century of the influencer, the YouTuber, the blogger. Media is transitioning to the digital space, and anyone can be a star, even a fiction writer. Online fiction published by independent authors is growing in popularity and accessibility all the time.

But there aren’t many resources for writing fiction online. It isn’t like self-publishing or print-on-demand deals. It’s not like blogging or writing for a magazine. It’s not even like publishing for a literary journal. And if you want to make any money on it, you will have to navigate the online world of advertising, maintain a profile on Patreon or Ko-fi, or else collect your work online and publish a book through a more traditional method. All those assume you’re able to gain a following and that some of your followers are interested enough (and financially able) to support your writing directly.

This series of blog posts aims to provide you with an understanding of the online fiction space and to help you decide whether or not you want to post original fiction online. I myself have made a few fairly successful forays into publishing online original fiction under pseudonyms in places like r/NoSleep and when I was in my early teens, and since then I have been keeping a careful eye on the horror fiction community especially. Recently I have begun to examine the fantasy community online, and though I have not ventured into romance, I’ll eventually investigate there as well. These three genres: horror, fantasy, and romance, are the most prominent online, and I will be discussing them more in other posts.

I am far from an expert on these matters, but I doubt anyone truly is. The internet simply evolves too fast to capture more than a passing snapshot of any community. Any influencer, be they a writer, vlogger, or model, must adapt to these changing environments and influences, follow what their readers want and expect, and match their needs.

Should You Post Fiction Online?

In my experience, only a few types of writers should be posting their original fiction online. Even on workshop-focused websites. Any work that you hope to publish one day through a press, publisher, or literary journal, should be kept offline as much as possible. This is mainly to protect your “First Publishing Rights” availability (e.g. What most literary magazines ask you to grant them upon publication), and because the atmosphere in online communities is sometimes counterintuitive to editing and developing work. Some sites are too positive to really give critical feedback, others are far too harsh and lead to low enthusiasm.

Thus, I recommend anyone writing original fiction with the intention of publishing by traditional methods to keep their drafts off of the internet.

I do, however, encourage these writers to go looking for other writers working on similar projects and to exchange drafts with one or two others. Writing workshops in the digital age often look like this.

So the only people posting their work online are the following:

  • Fan Fiction Writers: writers who are not writing original fiction. In case you aren’t aware, I will also take the opportunity to point out that publishing fanfiction as if it were original does infringe upon the original writer’s intellectual property, and this is a serious crime so… perhaps don’t. Besides; the fanfiction community is by far the most fun and friendliest writing community you will ever run across.
  • Hobby writers: writers who do not intend to make money or attain publications, who are just in it for the fun of writing.
  • Writers intent on self-publication who decide that serializing and online monetization are the right approaches for them. There are several financially successful writers who have used this method in the past.
  • Young Writers whose work is not yet ready for traditional publishing, but who want exposure to writing circles, positive encouragement, or critique.

If you fall into one or multiple of those categories, then posting fiction online is probably right for you right now. It may not be in the future, or it may be right for almost everyone.

For now, let’s talk about who will be reading your fiction when you post it online.


I’m very sorry to inform anyone who might be in denial, but the online fiction space is the last place you look for literary-minded, craft-conscientious readers. You may occasionally stumble across the odd poet, but you’ll have much better luck engaging an audience with an interesting plot than with a beautiful description. If you’re just getting started online, it is far more important to present an engaging narrative than craft perfect sentences.

Online, your reader demographics will likely skew younger and more feminine (source). This is true across all genres and platforms except perhaps Reddit. Women are, on average, more engaged in writing and reading online, and they will interact more often and more frequently with your work. You are also more likely to have LGBTQ+ readers.

If you want me to talk to you like I’m a soulless influencer drone, telling you how to get popular online, I could tell you that writing narratives that appeal to these demographics would be a smart decision. As a writer myself and a reader of online fiction, I will tell you that there is nothing more condescending than a story written just to get clicks and views. The quickest way to write a boring story is to write something you have no interest in and no drive to explore, and if your story is boring, nothing will save it. Especially not online, where YouTube is just a new tab away.

The most frustrating part about writing online is the locating and fostering of one’s audience. Writing fiction online is trickier than growing an audience on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (though all of those things can help you grow your audience). Your readers don’t have an endless wall of posts to scroll down, and they aren’t tapping just to read a few words and move on. There isn’t a “watch next” feature that’s going to offer up your content at random.

Getting your foot in the algorithmic door when you’re posting short stories and serial fiction isn’t just about posting and reposting your work; it’s about building reader engagement and interaction. This is true for every type of online content, but it goes double for fiction. As an author, you aren’t asking your reader to passively consume a video or image: you are asking them to interpret your writing, your characters, your world, your plot, and whatever stilted metaphors you might have included in your descriptions. Making your writing easy to read and interesting will increase your reader engagement, and the more engagement you have, the more readers will find your content.

Your mileage will vary based on the platform you publish on and your publishing schedule (the topics of other posts), but ensuring your content appears often and with high ratings at the top of your category’s search results is the quickest way to gain the audience that will (hopefully) support your writing career.