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The Ups and Downs of Web Novels and Light Novels


Clephas

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I'll go ahead and begin with an intro to my current experience with Light Novels and Web Novels in Japanese.  For the last two years, I've been reading them at a rate of 60-100 chapters a day (faster in the case of below-average size chapters).  I primarily read fantasy with a side of science fiction (no, not just isekai, though I love isekai).  This isn't hard, because fantasy and science fiction make up over three-quarters of all the LNs and Web Novels out there.  This is a bit ironic to my eyes, since it was the reverse with VNs, where romance and slice of life made up over 90% of all JVNs.

The great thing about web novels is that you can read them at your leisure without paying anything, and if you like it, most good authors have a patreon you can contribute to or get a light novel release you can buy to put money in their pockets.  The downsides are that there are usually three bad web novels for every one good one, and even the good ones usually have problems with the writing (a web novel I read recently used incorrect kanji for common phrases in a number of cases, making it annoyingly hard to read).  

The good thing about Light Novels is that they generally have added and more refined content compared to the original material, and they generally also come along with at least some pictures to help you get an idea of what the characters look like (some Japanese authors just suck at describing character appearances beyond hair color and skin color).  The downside is that light novels are generally more expensive than standard paperbacks or ebooks and rarely go down in price even after years or even decades have passed.  As such, they are often a huge burden on the pocketbook (in particular, a lot of LN series give you very little content for each $10 volume, as little as one hundred fifty short pages in a lot of cases, which is totally not worth it).

The upside of web novels in terms of content is that web novels tend to be more freeform and creative.  However, in exchange most are never completed and many of them just trail off because the writer runs out of ideas.  This is opposed to Light Novels, where I've definitely experienced situations (repeatedly) where authors are just continuing out of momentum and the story never goes anywhere... which is horrible when you are already overpaying for novels that are far too short for the money in question.  It is pretty common for LN series to run to 20+ volumes and yet never really get anywhere...

 

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It is pretty common for LN series to run to 20+ volumes and yet never really get anywhere...

I noticed so far that the ideal length of a light novel seems to be between 5 and 10 volumes. The shorter ones often feel undeveloped, and the longer ones tend to forget what they were about. Actually, the only LN I've read that has more than 10 volumes and still hasn't lost its momentum is Honzuki. But in its case, the first 12 volumes are often considered more or less the extended prologue.

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13 hours ago, Dreamysyu said:

I noticed so far that the ideal length of a light novel seems to be between 5 and 10 volumes. The shorter ones often feel undeveloped, and the longer ones tend to forget what they were about. Actually, the only LN I've read that has more than 10 volumes and still hasn't lost its momentum is Honzuki. But in its case, the first 12 volumes are often considered more or less the extended prologue.

Death March is pretty good though it is over twenty volumes (too bad the anime was horrible), and so is Arifureta.  However, I mostly agree...

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Well the reason why there's less VN with fantasy and science fiction setting is pretty clear, in which it need more money to make the assets compared to usual high school setting while it's just easier to write the story in form of WN (No need to draw sprites and background). Anyway as far as the difference concerned, I think mod Clephas here is more or less almost true. Also it should be noted that some of web novel writer are also just write it with on the spot idea, at least with my experience reading Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear. For the length, well it depend on the story, although if the story goal is already achieved in two volumes then we can say that the rest of the volume are already trails off (ie Bakarina).

Almost forgot to mention that the author usually write his idea in web novel and then improved the idea in light novel, as shown with Reincarnated as Slime with several plot in ight novel are different from the web novel version. Although such occasion is usually rare, because from what I see in Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear both novel have mostly same contents (With several more POV of other characters in light novel).

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I like them a lot cause can read most of them without paying a lot of attention. Can just focus when it's get interesting and can skip the 5 chapters of them explaining something they will never touch on later on(which god it happens a ton on WN).

Web novels are quantity and light novels usually are quality, a lot of the times they get LN release(and WN ends getting dropped orz).

Been branching off to KR novels lately. It's a refreshing feel after reading most if not all fantasy JP ones.

100% agree about never being completed if I had to say the amount of WN I have finished is a like not even 10% of the total numbers I've read. 

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21 hours ago, littleshogun said:

Well the reason why there's less VN with fantasy and science fiction setting is pretty clear, in which it need more money to make the assets compared to usual high school setting while it's just easier to write the story in form of WN (No need to draw sprites and background). Anyway as far as the difference concerned, I think mod Clephas here is more or less almost true. Also it should be noted that some of web novel writer are also just write it with on the spot idea, at least with my experience reading Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear. For the length, well it depend on the story, although if the story goal is already achieved in two volumes then we can say that the rest of the volume are already trails off (ie Bakarina).

Almost forgot to mention that the author usually write his idea in web novel and then improved the idea in light novel, as shown with Reincarnated as Slime with several plot in ight novel are different from the web novel version. Although such occasion is usually rare, because from what I see in Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear both novel have mostly same contents (With several more POV of other characters in light novel).

About two-thirds of most web novel writers are just pulling it out of their rears as they write... including me.

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