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Title:How To Avoid The WIP Meander
Author name: Icarus
Author email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cordelia V. wrote an essay on novel-length fanfiction Making It Last Longer: The Slow Build. She mentions that in WiPs, writers tend to lose that tight, solid story. (Over-inflated meandering monstrosity would be my term.) But authors observe that when you post a novel in its entirety the reader response is:
Burp. "Thanks. That was good."
Meanwhile WiPs get hundreds of ecstatic reviews, pleading for the next chapter sooooooooon. There's a pay-off issue.
I have a recommendation for novel-length writers.
Write your entire story (or at least two-thirds of it), then have it beta'd. Post the chapters as they are beta'd, one or two at a time. About once a week works best.
This is a service to the readers. They get the story in bite-sized chunks, and there aren't large gaps between chapters that cause people to lose track of... who?... wha-?
You get the benefit of the reader feedback during the Beta process, when your story is complete, but still open to tweaking here and there. Your readers act as secondary betas. One reader pointed out to me once that there was very little 'Dark Magic' in a story that was supposedly about Dark Magic. I agreed, and added a scene later on that turned out to be key. I'm really glad I added it.
Finally, you get roughly the feedback per chapter that you would on short stories (though not as much as you would receive if there were months between chapters). By posting once a week, you build excitement and a kind of momentum that really helps your writing. After I finished posting a story like this, I went into a writing frenzy on other things.
I did this with Primer to the Dark Arts on Fiction Alley and the various lists, and it worked very well for me.