Webfiction Statistics: Fictionpress.com

This is part of a series of posts sharing some of the research material I collected while researching my book How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels. There was a lot I found that I couldn’t fit into the book, so I thought I’d share it here. The categories listed are translations of the ones the sites use, not my own categories.

Fictionpress.com is one of the oldest English-language webfiction sites, being a sister site to Fanfiction.net, which is the oldest and largest collection of fanfiction in the world. While nowhere near as large as its older sister, or Wattpad, Fictionpress does have almost 600,000 stories on the site.

Fictionpress makes its numbers public, so they were easy to get. Interestingly enough, the site splits itself into Fiction and Poetry, and the Poetry section is much larger than the Fiction section. This makes Fictionpress one of the web’s more popular poetry sites.

The Fictionpress graph data below was gathered in December, 2017, and omits a number of micro categories to make the chart readable. Those categories can be found in the raw data at the bottom. The General Fiction category is the default on the site, and is where anything un-categorized goes, so I have included versions of the chart with and without it.

With the General Fiction Category
Without the General Fiction Category

As you can see, if we eliminate the General Fiction category, we end up with a chart that looks pretty similar to Wattpad and most of the other sites. These numbers show the teen focus of the site, with Young Adult being the third most popular specific category

What is interesting about Fictionpress is how Horror and Supernatural both get their own categories, and how Humor and Science Fiction are both pretty prominent. Fictionpress is an older site, so it’s gone through more than one wave of popularity for Science Fiction, and I think that’s why it’s got a higher percentage here than it does on most sites.

Fictionpress and Wattpad have similar profiles, and here are their percentages in their top categories. You can see where Wattpad’s focus on Romance really sticks out, and how Fantasy is still a fairly popular Fictionpress genre.

General Fiction11700020.09%
Romance10900018.72%
Fantasy 9600016.48%
Young Adult573009.84%
Horror285004.89%
Humor271004.65%
Supernatural270004.64%
Scifi243004.17%
Action202003.47%
Essay171002.94%
Historical99001.70%
Mystery95001.63%
Biography88001.51%
Thriller76001.30%
Spiritual63001.08%
Mythology45000.77%
Play42000.72%
Fable39000.67%
Kids35000.60%
Western6960.12%
TOTAL:582396100.00%

Overall, Fictionpress is another site where mostly young writers share their stories. Since it doesn’t have a mobile presence like Wattpad and Webnovel, it is slowly fading into history as young people tend to like using their phones for reading and writing these days.

Webfiction Statistics: Wattpad

This is part of a series of posts sharing some of the research material I collected while researching my book How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels. There was a lot I found that I couldn’t fit into the book, so I thought I’d share it here.The categories listed are translations of the ones the sites use, not my own categories.

Toronto-based Wattpad.com is the largest English language webfiction site in the world, with over 80 million users. Those users are primarily female, with 70% of Wattpad users identifying as female, about 15% male, and 15% preferring not to say. Most of Wattpad’s users are also young,

Here is the breakdown for Wattpad’s 7.04 million genre tags collected on December, 2017 using Wattpad’s search function and searching for broad genre categories and recording the numbers. Wattpad claims to have had more than 400 million story uploads, but many of those will be fragments, and that counts each part or chapter as a separate story uploads.

Thus the data below is incomplete since it’s based on genre tags and stories can have more than one tag, although it does tend to match the data for other webfiction sites in terms of percentages. Wattpad has since changed their search display numbers to only show the top stories in each category, so it’s hard to get more current data. Also, I omitted Fanfiction and Unsorted, which would be the largest categories at the time, and didn’t record the data for them.

Romance naturally rules the roost on a female dominated site, and likely a lot of the Teen stories are also romance as well. Action being so high seems a bit odd, and might be a statistical anomaly created by stories having more than one genre tag. Some writers might classify any story which has action elements in it as action.

Fantasy is smaller than you might expect, being a pretty universally popular genre, but I strongly suspect that Action and Adventure could be grouped together into a single group with Fantasy. Not that there won’t be pure adventure and action stories on a female-dominated site, since girls like those too, but it would make Wattpad match most of the other sites out there.

Mystery is an interesting one, since Wattpad seems to have the highest percentage of mystery stories out there of any site I looked at. Then again, women do seem drawn to mystery stories more than men, so that might make sense. Humor and Horror are also higher on Wattpad than most of the other sites I looked at, but that depends on the readership.

Thriller falling closely behind horror is not a surprise, and Science Fiction is about where it is on many sites. Historical, Middle Grade and Post-Apocalyptic round out the chart. Smaller genres on most sites as well.

Here are the actual numbers:

GenreNumbers
Romance2100000
Teen1000000
Action910000
Fantasy653000
Adventure633000
Mystery502000
Humor389000
Horror368000
Thriller297000
Science Fiction154000
Historical30700
Middle Grade9100
Post Apocalyptic6900
7052700

Now, Wattpad also had clubs (they’ve replaced these since) at the time which had membership numbers for how many people were a member of each club available. Being curious, I grabbed those as well, and they chart out as below.

These are a bit different from the tag stats, but they show where the interest in the Wattpad readership was. People who joined a club were dedicated fans of those genres, and may have been readers more than writers.

GenreNumberPercent
Romance11414816.69%
Teen Fiction9491513.87%
Fanfiction9099613.30%
Fantasy599438.76%
Werewolf356545.21%
Humor345915.06%
Vampire330644.83%
Short Story305564.47%
Poetry256713.75%
Science Fiction219263.20%
Mystery/Thriller216393.16%
Horror211833.10%
General Fiction193022.82%
Adventure192082.81%
Paranormal169902.48%
Historical Fiction129091.89%
Action93971.37%
Classics77551.13%
Spiritual76491.12%
Non-Fiction66370.97%
684133100.00%

Since I took these, Wattpad has reorganized it’s categories and revamped the site in many ways. They’ve now put a big emphasis on diversity and LGBTQ+ inclusion, and in fact those are major story categories on the site. Unfortunately, I can’t say how major because they’ve buried their real numbers too deep for me to find and don’t seem to want to share.

Webfiction Statistics: Qidian.com

This is part of a series of posts sharing some of the research material I collected while researching my book How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels. There was a lot I found that I couldn’t fit into the book, so I thought I’d share it here. The categories listed are translations of the ones the sites use, not my own categories.

Qidian.com is China’s largest webfiction portal, with tens of millions of users and a steady stream of stories being published on it. They show their data by category on their front page, so it was easy to find, and this was the site that inspired me to start collecting webfiction site data to compare.

There are 2.9 Million stories on the site, and as you can see Romance/Women’s Fiction and Eastern Fantasy (Xuanhuan) are the largest categories. Urban (also called City Stories) refers to stories set against a backdrop of modern life, and would include business stories, dramas, superhero, comedies, slice-of-life, and most non-mystery/suspense stories (which have their own categories).

Cultivation stories are the famous Xianxia stories that are so popular in some parts of the web, while Martial Arts are Wuxia and Kung Fu stories, which were the Chinese equivalent of Westerns.

Western Fantasy is Dungeons and Dragons/Tolkien/Game of Thrones type pseudo-European fantasy, Scifi is what you’d expect, and Light Novels are anime-style stories. Games are likely litRPG stories and e-sports stories, while History will be historically-set tales. (Stories set in actual history are a prickly subject in China, so it only being 3% of stories is normal despite their love of historical tales.)

Sports aren’t that popular among Chinese youth, and Military stories are probably so low because most of the readers and writers on the site didn’t do military service. Writing about the military in China could also be a prickly subject, and is probably best avoided as well. Reality is just true-life stories, or ones that claim to be, and aren’t that popular either.

Overall, you’ll find that the percentages you see on this site compare fairly well to the percentages you’ll see on other sites. Despite the culture differences, the same genres tend to dominate overall on pretty much every webfiction site there is.

I collected data on the site in December 2017 when I started doing research for the book, and then again in July 2019. Since I collected the data twice, here are the comparative numbers.

Genre2017 Numbers2019 Numbers
Romance627492800106
Eastern Fantasy619680721722
Urban335998374244
Cultivation Fantasy211139236460
Western Fantasy134198159241
Sci-fi133498157333
Light Novels91106113490
Games96143108311
History7216477225
Supernatural5406066996
Martial Arts3700345378
Reality1454043492
Military1866520623
Sports92399109
24549252933730

How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels

Featured

Rob’s newest book is available online! After three years of research and writing, your guide to the secrets of writing successful webfiction has arrived!

You can write the Light Novel or Webnovel you want…

Right now, writers just like you are making stories that are setting the world on fire. Light Novels are getting turned into games, anime, and movies, while Webnovels are making authors into millionaires with legions of fans.

And, all of them started with just an idea, and a little creativity.

You’re creative and you have amazing ideas – you just need a little extra help in shaping those ideas into something that brings out their potential. Let a writing teacher with over twenty years of experience guide you through the writing process of making your story dreams into story reality.

In this book you’ll learn…

  • The 10 things popular Light Novels and Webnovels have in common
  • How to master the 8 major webfiction genres, including Isekai, litRPGs, Fantasy, Slice-of-Life and Romance
  • About all 3 styles of Asian light fiction – Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and what makes each of them special.
  • To use the 5 levels of story to build solid serials that get read to the end
  • 12 simple steps to turning your ideas into epic stories
  • And…so much more!

Rise to the challenge, and show the world what only you can do. This is your opportunity to show off your ideas and join the ranks of writers who are blazing trails across the world.

Get How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels today!

Starting making your own legend.

Rob on YouTube

I finally completed a project I’d been meaning to do for a while – convert my various podcast episodes to YouTube videos so that a whole new audience can find them. Thanks to the amazing folks at repurpose.io, the various old episodes of Kung Fu Action Theatre and The Department of Nerdly Affairs are now available on YouTube for anyone’s listening pleasure.

Each in their own organized playlist for convenient listening!

Enjoy!

Rob

How to Write Manga

My new book is up! What started as a revision of Write! Shonen Manga turned into an almost complete re-write with lots of new material and approaches. This book now covers how to…

  • Write both Shonen and Shoujo manga.
  • Master the Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu story structure that makes manga unique.
  • Create epic battle manga like NarutoMy Hero Academia and One Piece.
  • Design manga characters that your audience can’t get enough of.
  • Grab your audience and keep them reading until the end.
  • Make your stories come alive with emotion.
  • Craft romance and slice-of-life manga that your readers will love.
  • Produce four-koma gag manga.
  • And so much more!

How to Write Manga will give you the simple and essential tools you need to write your manga your way.

Get your copy today!

J. Michael Straczynski on the secret to his writing

Yep. That’s basically it. You need to write until it’s instinctual, and that comes with a whole lot of practice. (Which he’s had, in spades!) Always keep writing!

Write! Shonen Manga is now available on Smashwords for Free!

Last summer, I began revising my book Write! Shonen Manga towards a second edition, however the more I wrote the more it turned from being a second edition into not one, but two different books! The first of these was All the Write Moves which was published last fall on Amazon, and the second one is the upcoming How to Write Manga, which will be released this summer.

How to Write Manga will be an almost a totally different book, and at first, I just removed Write! Shonen Manga from publication and was going to let it vanish into obscurity. But, the truth is, I’m leaving so much useful information from Write! Shonen Manga on the editing floor that it seemed a shame to take it completely out of availability.

Thus, I have decided to compromise- Write! Shonen Manga is now available on Smashwords as a “Choose Your Own Price” book. If you want to get it for free, go ahead and grab it in the format of your choice. All I ask is that if you like it, you leave a review on Smashwords so that others can find it as well. And, if you really like it, consider picking up How to Write Manga when it becomes available.

Rob

The Rise of Webtoons

I’m not sure if many people know about this, but Webtoons.com is just starting to majorly take off. My tween tutoring students all read it, and I think it’s going to be huge in the very near future.


Here’s an artist talking about his first month’s experience on it I recommend watching…

The site is actually the English webcomic branch of Korea’s biggest web portal Naver, which is a huge company and it has real money behind it. They were smart enough to see manhwa (Korean comics) were getting popular in English, so they jumped on it by translating some of their better stuff, plus recruiting other English webcomics, plus making the site open for anyone else who wants to put their stuff on it. All while linking it to Patreon, so your fans can give you money. 


As the video above shows, it’s still fairly easy to find an audience on there because the flood hasn’t started yet, and those who get in soon are going to have a serious first-mover advantage in getting an audience. 

Rob

Writing Manga: The Three Cycle Plot

Japanese comics, or manga, are written as episodic serials- which means they’re broken down into a series of semi-self contained chapters where each episode represents a piece of a larger story but is also a smaller story on its own. This style developed because they were publishing stories in weekly magazines and never knew if the reader had read the previous chapters or not, so they tried to make each chapter as accessible as possible by making it a mini-story. This isn’t much different from how American episodic television is written as well.

Where the Japanese approach differs from the typical American approach is that instead of a typical 3-act structure (Setup>Action>Conclusion) the Japanese prefer a style they refer to as the Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu, which is based on rising tension and excitement, and when mapped out looks a little like this…

Each cycle of the story represents a dip into suspense (Will they do it? How?) and a return to possible success, with each cycle increasing in length and intensity. This differs in length from a typical three-act story which is Setup (25%)>Action(50%)>Conclusion(25%), by being roughly Cycle One (25%), Cycle Two (30%), and Cycle Three (45%). In other words, instead of being organized as a beginning, middle, and end, the story is better thought of as being in three waves of increasing power and duration.

The peaks of the waves represents the moments of greatest hope and excitement turning into worry, while the bottom of the troughs represents the moments of greatest worry turning into hope. Using this sine-wave style pattern, the audience’s emotions are taken on a roller-coaster ride, and Japanese comic creators use it to play the audience’s emotions like an instrument alternating between fast and slow, soft and hard, and joy and despair.

Which is the key point- the Three Cycle Plot is built around the audience’s emotions and carrying them on an emotional journey. Things that happen are happening because they will affect the audience, and the characters and situations are a vehicle for making the audience feel. It’s all about creating a building a rhythm of suspense and excitement which alternate to bring out the best in each other.

Here’s how to use the Three Cycles to write a story…

Cycle One: Introduction and Problem (25%)

Introduce the following things as quickly as possible:

  • The main characters, including their motivations, reasons the audience should sympathize with them, and any long-term goals they have (if any).
  • The setting and other necessary details and pieces of information the reader needs to understand the story from start to finish.
  • The short term goal they have for this story.
  • An obstacle to that short-term goal which makes it appear challenging but still do-able. This obstacle should be connected to the major obstacle they’ll be facing in this story, but is not the main one.
  • A potential solution to that challenging obstacle.

Cycle Two: Double Trouble (30%)

  • Another greater obstacle appears, building on the smaller one. This can be something actually going wrong, or just the appearance of a greater threat. The important part is it creates another significant question in the audience’s minds (“How can they overcome this?”) and ups the suspense.
  • Usually the main opponent/challenge of the story will be revealed here, and their appearance may be the greater obstacle.
  • Despite the challenge of the greater obstacle, the main character will still attempt to solve it and make some headway.

Cycle Three: Disaster and Conclusion (45%)

  • Just as the greater obstacle looks to be solved, things take a deep turn for the worse and everything looks lost. The situation should feel hopeless for the audience, or at least they should doubt that the main character can solve their problem, just for a moment.
  • The main character must now do something they don’t want to do in order (or have been avoiding doing) to have even a chance at victory, and so they call on all their resources to take one last try at achieving their goal.
  • They win through their own efforts, and claim their prize.
  • The character is shown benefiting from their efforts in some way that makes the audience feel satisfied.
  • If the story is a continuing one, a new challenge is introduced to be solved in the next story.

Example Story: Baker’s Dozen, Episode 3

Cycle 1: Introduction and Problem

Dolly Madison is the best teen baker you ever saw, but she runs completely on instinct and recipes just confuse her. Thus, no baking school will accept her because she fails the written component of all the entrance tests. Seeing her potential, a master baker named Chef Kim has taken pity on her, and is giving her one chance to win a possible apprenticeship. As the story starts early one morning, she sneaks out because her parents don’t approve of her dream, and then heads to Kim’s Bakery, where she will face her big test.

Arriving at Kim’s Bakery, she finds he’s set up three stations, complete with equipment and ingredients. At each station is a sealed letter, and he tells her that in order to pass the test, she must complete the instructions in each letter before noon when the bakery opens. She can do them in any order, but she must complete each task to his satisfaction or she fails and he won’t give her another chance.

Saying a prayer, she picks a station randomly and reads the first letter- it turns out to be for two dozen chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is there, but she’s made them in the past, and is pretty sure she remembers how to do it on her own. She gets everything put together and gets the cookies in the oven- it’s now 8:30am, and she’s got a few hours.

Cycle 2: Double Trouble

She opens the second letter to find it requires her to make two chocolate layer cakes- something she’s never made before. Again, the recipe is there, and at first she tries to use it but gets really confused and makes a big mess. But then after taking out the cookies, she recalls that she’s seen people make these on her favorite cooking shows and after panicking reconstructs the steps in her head. She manages to get the ingredients together and gets them baking- the clock says 10:15am now.

Cycle 3: Disaster and Conclusion

Rushing over to the third station, she finds it’s for two loaves of banana bread- something she again has never made before. As she’s puzzling over how to do it, she smells something burning and discovers that the cakes are burnt! Can’t serve these! She now has an hour and a half to remake the cakes, and she still hasn’t started the banana bread!

After Chef Kim makes it clear there will be no more time, Dolly leaps into action and gets the cakes remade and in the oven. Then, she stares at the recipe, trying to figure it out and decides to just do one step at a time- breaking the process down. She has no time for this, but she’s got to go through it slowly in order to produce something. Working her way through, she manages to get the banana bread in the oven in time to get the cakes out. But the cakes are too hot to ice in time, and so she improvises a special topping that won’t melt on the hot cake. Then, with seconds to go, she pulls out the banana bread and gets them on the cooling racks.

Chef Kim tastes her cookies and finds them a little hard and salty, so he’s not impressed. He’s impressed by her cake however, and her ability to think up a topping at the last second to recover. Then they get to the banana loaf, which he questions will be done under such tight conditions. And, when he checks it, he finds it’s underdone and still uncooked in the middle.

Dolly cries, because she’s failed the test.

However, Chef Kim then informs her that she did pass the test- the test to see if she could follow a recipe under pressure. That was the real test, and in the end she did it, earning her place as his apprentice. Then he informs her it’s time to start serving, so she needs to clean up and get to the front of the bakery to serve customers. Baking is only half the job, and this was only half the test! Get to it!

Examples of Three Cycle Plot Patterns

These are some of the many possible ways you can use the three-cycle pattern to plan out the plot of a story, using some common situations. Each of these is only one way among many to do it.

The Hero Cycle

  • C1: A heroic character is introduced and faces a small challenge which lets the show off what they can do. This challenge leads to them facing a larger threat.
  • C2: The hero faces off against the real threat, and learns that they’re much tougher than they thought. By putting their skills to the test, they manage to hold their own against this dangerous opponent and make things even.
  • C3: The opponent reveals that they’ve been holding back and unleashes their full force against the hero, driving them into a corner. At their darkest hour, the hero manages to find a solution to their problems and rally against their opponent, defeating them.

Bad Situation Cycle

  • C1: The hero meets a villain who is clearly a tough customer. But it seems like they might be able to take them.
  • C2: The hero realizes this situation is worse than expected and pulls put their best move, which seems to do the trick.
  • C3: The villain turns out to be immune to their best move, and…
  • The hero must improvise/find a new way to defeat the enemy and then wins.
  • The hero gets pummeled into the ground and loses, leaving it as a cliffhanger for the next chapter.
  • The hero is rescued by a third party.
  • The hero must develop a new special strength.
  • Some combination of the above.

Young Master Cycle

  • C1: The hero finds a jerk being a jerk and puts them in their place. The young master sends thugs at the hero, who they defeat.
  • C2: The young master’s old master (father/master) comes looking for the hero who has bullied their son/student, and the old master is tougher than the hero. The hero is in serious danger, and at first they almost find a way to avoid conflict, but…
  • C3: The young master eggs the old master on, or something else incites the old master’s anger, and they attack the hero. The hero is in mortal danger and…
  • Must use every trick they have to get out of this one.
  • Finds a new unexpected strength.
  • Is saved by an unexpected ally.
  • Defeats the old master, but now has their entire clan hunting the hero down to try and restore the family’s honor.

The Comedy Cycle

  • C1: There’s a misunderstanding between two characters, but maybe they can work it out.
  • C2: Nope! Thanks to a twist, things get twice as bad, and there’s going to be real consequences. But there is still a chance…
  • C3: The chance for understanding falls apart and the only solution is now the hero coming clean (if it was caused by their own unwillingness to do what needed to be done) or a display of their special strength. The misunderstanding is cleared up and their relationship is healed, usually becoming stronger for the experience.

The Murder Cycle

  • C1: Someone has been killed and a detective uses their skills to find their first clues that lead them to a suspect.
  • C2: The detective finds the mystery is even harder to solve when their first suspect is also killed by the murderer, or the first suspect has a solid alibi. They’re left back at square one.
  • C3: The detective finds a new direction that leads them into a confrontation where they face several suspects and explain how the crime was done. Then they point out the murderer, who confesses under the weight of evidence.
  • Note: The moment things turn around in the Murder Cycle is when the detective has an “ah-ha!” moment that lets them piece the whole thing together and solve the crime.

The Romance Cycle:

  • C1: The lead is romantically interested in another character but their first attempt at getting closer with the other person fails.
  • C2: The lead gets another try at getting closer with the love interest, often due to circumstances, but this attempt not only fails but makes the love interest seem to dislike them.
  • C3: The lead gives it their all and confesses their feelings to their love interest, usually as part of an apology, and finds that the love interest doesn’t hate them at all. The two of them find a way to start a new relationship with each other, one that’s going in a positive direction.

Final Thoughts

This pattern is designed for writing serials, and will work for any kind of continuing episodic story from Manga to Xianxia Webnovel chapters. However, it can also be used for any other kind of story as well, and will work for organizing stories from a few paragraphs to thousands of pages in length. Just remember that there can be cycles within cycles, and each of those cycles can have other smaller 3-Cycle Plots inside them!

Look at your favorite Japanese stories and you’ll quickly start to see this three cycle pattern everywhere. While there are other patterns as well, most of them are variations on the three-cycle pattern which helps to define how the Japanese put together their stories.

Happy writing!

Rob