The terminology debate part 3 of ?: the "web series" and how Reddit bummed me out

In the midst of a second mid-life crisis and evaluating possible school again (yes, it’s sick to think I’d even entertain grad school again), I picked up some new screenwriters and screen reader blogs.

I love writing serials. And I love LOST.  The idea of writing a drama of characters with other crazy people really excites me, so I’m researching their tricks, their language, and their career advice while I flirt with changing career paths.

While reading “The Aspiring TV Writer” (http://aspiringtvwriter.blogspot.com )  I noted their announcement about a new blog devoted to “web series,” “The Tangled Web We Watch” at
http://tangledwebwewatch.com/ .

Perusing their FAQ and link pages, what’s immediately clear to me is that the blogger and other folks in the traditional tv/movie business use “web series” to be synonymous with “web television,” more like “The Guild” or “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” than to refer to any other serial.

Given that currently “web series” is also one of the tags/classifications that online novels/webfiction /prose writers use, this is an evolving situation that I have mixed feelings about.

Of course, I’m happy for -any- term behind new media to get some kind of traction because at the moment web content is still fighting against the perception that independent is amateur. The well funded web series at least are attracting and maintaining interest of an internet-savvy audience.   Certainly thanks to some of the better independent web tv shows, I think the audience on the internet is open to independent work.

However, as the “web series” definition appears to move towards tighter definition, those of us whose content doesn’t even come close to serving as “prose TV” have to evaluate whether it is a good definition to use in our tagging, blogging and posting.    Sure, it might be okay to brand yourself as a pictureless/video-less “web series”…but the expectations are being put into play quickly that your content must be episodic in nature. It might have to be similar to existing web series out there because the audience prefers it.

In general, webcomics and webseries are starting to become associated with specific genres/types of content, and for web fiction/online novels this is a problem.  Our sandbox is highly diverse, much more inclusive of all types of genres than what appears to be happening in those two content sandboxes.

The writing community needs to stop making up new definitions and settle on something to describe fiction on the web that stands on its own.  To grow an audience, we are going to have to eventually give up this strategy of attaching ourselves to multiple terms.   The fiction we write is getting lost. Completely.

And on a random depressing note, see this week’s Reddit thread in r/writing:

http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/13rxrm/does_anyone_read_fiction_online/

We have a lot of work to do.

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