That’s Not a Book, it’s a Soap Opera!

Have you missed the snark? I’ve missed the snark. This post is, I have to say, a little bit snark, but more of an observation.

If you know me well, you know that I have little patience for the epic word counts in fanfiction. If a fic is over 100k, I side-eye it a little. No. I side-eye it a hell of a fucking lot. It’ll have to come pretty highly (and by highly, I mean rec’d by one of only a very small handful of people in fandom) recommended for me to even pick it up (it’ll also likely have to be AU and non-E/J, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

I’ve previously not been able to get my head around why any romance novel (as far as I was concerned, the majority of twific) would ever need to be over 100k, let alone 200k, 300k etc, but recently I’ve come to a realisation.

These epic fics aren’t romance novels at all. They’re bloody soap operas. Meandering, long lost twin, interconnected and convoluted plot, serialised soap operas.

And that’s fine. If that’s the format you get into. And really, if that’s the format you’re into, there’s no reason why the neverending, long-running, epic word count fic needs to be wrapped up. There’s a lot of that type out there. I would posit that all those with reviews in the many thousands are of this format (I’ve not noticed a true ‘novel’ format fanfiction in this fandom with that many reviews), and they are like this because they have 50, 100, etc chapters.

I don’t get into soap operas on TV. Never have, except for a very brief dalliance with Days of Our Lives when I was in high school. I think that definitely extends to my reading habits. I don’t have the patience for the meander, for the long lost sibling, for the painfully slow unfolding, or the new conflict that crops up in the middle of one chapter only to get completely resolved in the next while the larger, more important issue goes ignored chapter after chapter after chapter. I’ve started dozens of new fics only to get caught in the never ending circle of epic chapters where nothing actually gets resolved before flouncing.

I don’t read incomplete fics these days. I like a nice tidy novella or novel that I can curl up with and read in a day or two that ends with a nice resolution (not necessarily a HEA—I’m good whether you break my heart or mend it with a pretty pink bow).

But. I’m not saying that this format does not have a place. It obviously does. These epics are wildly popular, so there are obviously readers out there that identify with that format and enjoy it mightily.

I’m just not one of them.

I think it would be helpful for readers and writers to be aware of the distinction between novel and soap opera though. If you want to write a novel, keep your ultimate goal in mind and don’t wander off on some soap-opera-style tangent. If you want to write an epic, then write one! But be aware of the need to keep the reader entertained without spiralling into a series of chapters where nothing ever happens (except maybe some sex).

If you’re reading something epic that bugs you for some reason, take a look at the format and decide whether it’s really your type of story or not.

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One response to “That’s Not a Book, it’s a Soap Opera!

  • sapphirescribe

    Don’t know how I missed this post… You’ve hit on exactly why I’ve flounced a few fics recently, and thank you, because even I couldn’t pinpoint why I was done with them. I was searching for that resolution, whether happy or sad, I wanted a goddamn ending, and that just wasn’t happening.

    Whenever I see someone rec one of these soap opera type-fics I cringe. (Though this might be touching on a completely separate issue.) Most of the time when someone’s looking for a fic rec, they’re not looking for that never-ending tome, in my experience. Yeah, getting way off topic here, so I’m just gonna go away now…

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