Multi-part stories -- post all together, or as they are completed?

A few weeks ago I posted my first story on GSS. I recently changed jobs and took a 2-week break between them. I spent half of it cranking out the story. I went from blank page to finish line in 7 days. I posted all the parts over a period of 3 days as I did the final polish on each. In 20+ years of writing, I’ve never finished anything significant in 7 days. What made it possible is that the story is self-contained, a one-off, not part of a larger universe.

The next story that I have determined to finish is part of a large universe, unlike the one-off. All the stories must hang together well, and that takes extra time. And now I’ll be writing no more than 8-12 hours per calendar week.

It will prod me to finish the first story in this universe if I post each part as I finish it. The compliments and ratings on my first GSS story definitely helped me power through the final polish. But on the other hand, readers will be left waiting for months.

What do the men of GSS think?

Hey! If it’s a really tight series, I like to publish it close together, usually one every day or two. That’s what I did for my recentish series ‘Control Yourself’. Something that’s more like a serialized fantasy like my ‘Catch of the Day’ series, I’m happy to leak it out as I’m inspired to write it.


There are advantages to both approaches.

Releasing the story all at once allows you to rewrite bits at the beginning of the story that seemed okay at the time, but need updating as the story evolves. It gives the readers a concrete, finished story that they know they can read all of at once. The disadvantage is that it probably won’t get as much reader-engagement. People often do things like “this story involves X fetish, not gonna read it” when they have a whole story, where if you’re publishing individual chapters, there’s the chance that chapters without said fetish will draw readers in.

Releasing the story in chapters means you don’t have to write the thing all at once, but as you note, readers may be annoyed at how long they have to wait between chapters. Conversely to the all-at-once approach, once a chapter is published, it’s more or less set in stone, so you have to be consistent with those earlier chapters as you write new ones. There’s also no guarantee for anyone that you’ll finish the story, but on the flip side, at least people got to read some of a story that you wrote. This is less problematic for anthology type stories than it is for continuous stories.

Personally, I prefer chapter-by-chapter, but I usually wait until I’m at least a good bit into the second chapter of a story before I consider releasing the first. This ensures that I’m at least reasonably invested in the project and it isn’t just a passing fantasy. Often, I’ll get a start on a story because it’s the fantasy-of-the-moment and I think it’s the hottest thing ever, but then the moment passes and the story gets abandoned. Although, that said, I’ve also got a number of decent-length starts to stories/series that I fully intend(ed) to release and just haven’t gotten around to finishing yet. This is another problem with publishing individual chapters is that, as has happened to so many authors here, you can get lost in several different series with fans of each clamouring for more that you just don’t have the time or interest in writing anymore.

You make a good point that it’s a bad idea to release a chapter without being certain of ever finishing it, although I can’t see myself ever releasing a first chapter without having loosely determined the entire arc and the ending. Like you, I have a vast junkyard of one-page and five-page starts that will never get finished. As for getting lost in several series, I have experienced that myself, although posting a single chapter will likely keep me focused on just that one story until it’s done.

Well, I’m notorious for my uncompleted stories…but I still do prefer chapter to chapter just because I fall in and out of my interest in hypno. It does mean VERY long waits occasionally, but it works for me ultimately and I’m proud of the work I’ve done…even if stories aren’t fully complete.

Good gawd, BTDT. Although sometimes I get a flash of inspiration and then add another chapter. One of the hardest things is to ‘complete the arc’. No matter, I enjoy writing them as much as reading them. I don’t know if it is perverse or not, but I get off more on my own stories than those of others, and often that leads to another thread. At the end of the day, isn’t it more about the journey rather than the destination?

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I totally know what you mean. I really do not like to release chapters before the whole thing is finished. I have at least a dozen unfinished stories. Slowly, over time, I am adding to most of them though. That is, until I get a totally different idea for a whole new story and then that becomes my entire focus for a while. :sweat_smile:

And, like you, I find the process of writing my own stories to be far more enjoyable than reading others. Conversely, I never read a story of mine again after it is posted publicly. I think that comes from the same place that causes actors to avoid watching shows/movies that they’re in. Something about it just seems…weird…

You don’t read your own stories, even to continue them later? I usually wouldn’t be able to remember all the details and would have to reread my own story - and cringe at that…

Err, maybe I didn’t explain myself clearly.

Obviously, if I were going to expand on an old story, I would have to re-read it. And while writing multi-chapter stories I will frequently go back to what I’ve already written to make sure things make sense.

However, like I said, I generally try not to post a story at all until it is finished entirely (except one time when a story that was meant to be a single chapter somehow became five). The general idea is once it’s posted, that’s the end of my iterating it. At that point, once it’s finished and uploaded, I won’t read it again.