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February 18, 2013

I Hraet You -- An Inquisition

So if you’ve seen this blog for any amount of time (as in the amount of time it takes to let your eyes rove across the top half of any given page) you may know that I’ve had this little thing called I Hraet You on-site for a while now.  A long while.  If you’ve actually clicked on the thing, you may know that it’s what I tentatively call a “web serial novel” -- if only because I lack a better phrase.  If you didn’t know, then…well…it’s what I tentatively call a “web serial novel” -- if only because I lack a better phrase.

It’s my intent to try and make IHY something semi-noteworthy on the internet, as part of that whole “build an authorial platform” thingamajig.  It’s also my intention to keep writing chapters for IHY; I’ve got a fair number of wacky ideas and characters I’m hoping to get integrated as soon as possible (if you’ve read the latest chapter, you may know there’s a killer robot heading to Porbeagle).  So yeah, I’m excited about that.  But the thing that I want and need to prioritize is letting people know that IHY exists.  And beyond that, I want to try and bridge the gap between the writer and the audience.  I know there’ll always be a gap, and that creative vision > fan demand, but success should come from both presenting something worthwhile AND being mindful of, if not amicable with, an audience.

Which brings me to today’s post -- and a question I want to ask you intrepid visitors of Cross-Up.

If there’s one thing that I hold dear above every other story element, it’s a cast.  I’ve gone on record saying that if you can’t make a story with a good main character (or good characters in general), then you might as well not write a story at all.  I stand by that opinion; how well of a job I’ve done may be up for debate, but I wouldn’t have written nearly sixty chapters if I didn’t think Lloyd was a good character.  The same goes for his friends and family; good characters make for potential that can be tapped, or at least have potential that a savvy writer can unlock by story’s end.  That much we can agree on, I hope.

If you’re reading this blog, then there’s no doubt in my mind you have your own favorite characters, and your own favorite stories.  Expectations, experiences, and opinions shaped by years of storytelling engraved into your heart and mind.  Whether you’re the creative sort or just like seeing others spin their writing wheels, all of us have that spark of ingenuity inside us to dream up something interesting.

That’s something I know and believe -- now more than ever, since I started using the internet in earnest.  But in the context of my writing adventures, I’m still unsatisfied.  Not because of my technique (which I admit could use some work), or because I’m not a member of the Author Pantheon that I want to be.  For the purposes of IHY, I need to bridge the gap.  I need to connect with audiences -- readers, and unmistakable dreamers -- in ways I never would have thought possible.  The question was, how could I do that? 

I might have an answer.  The key element I might be missing is “interactivity.”  And to that end, here I am with a question.

If I were to announce an I Hraet You Character Creation Contest, how many of you would be interested in participating?

I’m not about to commit to anything just yet, especially if there’s no one who actually cares.  But I think it’s an interesting idea; it’s a chance to see one’s characters realized in written form.  It’s a chance to reward creativity.  It’s a chance to…okay, maybe not win money, but it’s the thought that counts.  What’s important is that I want to see what others are capable of, and build a bond between myself and readers.  It’s one thing to go “Hey!  Get in here and read my story!”  It’s another to say “Hey!  Be a part of this story -- because now it’s 4% yours!”

So I’ll go ahead and leave the door cracked on that opportunity.  If you’re interested, say so.  If not, then that’s all right, too.  I promise you, if things go exactly as planned neither you nor I will be left wanting for crazy characters.  But the option is open. 

Question is, are you in or out?   


  1. Y'know, this actually kinda reminds me of a thing a friend of mine did back in fifth grade. For the stories and novellas he wrote, he would always ask classmates to sign up to actually be characters for his stories. His eccentric nature wasn't at all popular with classmates, and the people he asked were usually not the reading type, but their "involvement" with these stories made them keenly interested in what this guy was doing. After all, they were, more or less, characters in these stories.

    I'm not sure if something like this will directly increase readership, but I can attest to the effectiveness of reader interactivity insofar as strengthening a fanbase is concerned. Which will more than likely increase awareness of your story somewhere along the line, and perhaps net IHY that TvTropes entry it deserves. As a casual fan of your work, I approve of this public service announcement.

  2. I feel your pain. It's pretty difficult to get people to commit to things that require brain-power to process. You might want to reach out to similar fields and get your feet wet in versatility. I can personally suggest branching out with your storytelling on smaller levels: poetry, flash fictions, and short stories perhaps.

    Reading your reviews and rants it's clear you have awesome voice. It's really just a matter of applying it just right and making it irresistible. Also there's the whole thick skin thing.

    One thing I've learned over the last year. Blogs are a great way to get your voice out there, but you likely have the attention of your reader a mere 5 minutes. I Hraet You requires commitment to enjoy, which is a blessing and a curse. :)

  3. Your old friend sounds like he had the right idea...well, sort of. I can't help but wonder how it worked out for him, but I'd assume there were some issues involved. Probably issues that I run the risk of creating if I go too crazy with "fan" input, but I don't think I'm about to go overboard anytime soon.

    But yeah, you've got me pegged. If I could get someone to put IHY on TV Tropes, then I know that I'll have done something right. It'd be a definite milestone. Guess I've got some work to do if I want to reach that sacred ground, yeah?

    In any case, thanks for the input. And it's good to hear that I've got a "casual fan." That's something else to be proud of, I suppose.

  4. I suppose that's my fatal flaw as a writer; as you might have guessed, I have...uh...issues writing things on smaller levels. You've seen my Let's Discuss posts; I'm working on one now, and I'm already convinced I have to break it into two separate ones. (But it'll be a good one, I hope!)

    But yeah, you're right. IHY DOES require commitment, and if I'm going to keep on truckin', it's only going to get worse before it gets better. Still, I'm doing what I can to reward that commitment; if I could get people to take the plunge, I'd wager I'd be in a better place overall.

    Looks like I'll have to continue with Operation: Infiltrate Every Online Community Possible and Pull Them Over Here. Which is to say, I need to do more than form accounts on two or three sites. I'd be more proactive on that front if I wasn't afraid my laptop was about to melt/burst into flames. I wonder if the cleaning I gave it last week was enough...

  5. In retrospect, I'm actually surprised those old stories didn't become Mary Sue/Marty Stu parties (given we were grade schoolers and all), but what he was doing did eventually inspire me to start writing as well, so I guess there's that? But yeah, go for it dood. I, too, hope to one day cross into Trope cult fandomland, so let us both work towards that promised golden dawn! Westward, to Oceanus!

    (By casual, I mean "I'm only 4 chapters into IHY, but I like it." Your "Let's Discuss" stuff's gold, though. Lengthy, internet gold.)

  6. I didn't know of this till now, and plan to check it out. That is rather a cool idea, a kind of internet story. I haven't seen this done before.

    Killing a character is very complex. It must be done where the reader misses him, and needs all kinds of balances in the mix. I do admire authors who can accomplish this and make me feel sad over it.

  7. To be fair the whole "web serial novel" thing isn't exactly a new concept; there's a decent number of them scattered across the internet. Though there's also the so-called "blog fiction" out there, and that's probably what I should be calling my thing...but that's all just a bunch of semantics. In any case, good to hear that I've got your attention. Might I presume that you're raising an eyebrow as a result of your intrigue? Because that would just make my day.

    As for killing characters...well, I'll admit that I'm not exactly an expert on the matter, since, you know, I really try to avoid that. But when it comes to "balances", I think I see what you mean. I'd like to think that I've played enough video games to know how NOT to handle it, so I think as long as I follow those guidelines (that is, do almost the complete opposite), I might be better off.

    Guess that means I'll have to rewrite the chapter where the hero is slain by a turtle shell he accidentally kicked eight seconds earlier...

  8. Well, four chapters in is better than NO chapters in, so I can't say I'm too sore about that. And if you like the Let's Discuss posts, I've got one (or most of one) up and ready for you to read. Give it a look, yeah? It's got lots of words in it...wink wink nudge nudge sparkle sparkle.