Did Blog Fiction peak in 2005?


Lots of new things in popular culture follows a certain pattern. Somebody does something new and/or different. It becomes popular. Everyone talks about it. The genre is then copied repeatedly until every hack is trying to do the new thing. The novelty then peaks. People quit watching the crappy copies and only the best survives. People quit talking about it because it's no longer new and just becomes part of the culture.

Examples of this were variety shows on TV Variety shows gained popularity in the 60s, especially the Ed Sullivan show. Then in the 70s it really peaked. Any idiot that was famous got a variety show. Now, the closest thing to variety shows that we have are late night talk shows and SNL.

The same thing happened in the 80s with standup comedy. Every bar owner thought they could be the next Improv and every office "funny guy" thought he could be a comic. Well, the number of stand up clubs eventually declined, but stand up is still done in clubs that know how to run a comedy club.

With that in mind. It seems like interest in Blog Fiction peaked back in 2005. Considering that they only started in 2003 that's pretty quick. I know things go fast on the internet, but this is ridiculous.

I keep find articles and websites circa 2005(or earlier) about Blog Fiction and very little since. Don't get me wrong, people are still writing Blog Fiction, but nobody is really writing about it. Here's some of what I mean:
FictionBlogs is a list of Blog Fiction that hasn't been updated since January 2005.
Over on BloggersBlog all of their posts about Blog Fiction were in 2005 with one January 2006 exception.
Blog-fic.com used to be a gathering place for Blog Fiction writer's, but now the site is gone and has been replaced with a scum-sucking domain squatter. (Link not included so as to discourage people going to these sites.
Over at Grand Text Auto, an active blog "about computer narrative, games, poetry, and art", hasn't had an post about Blog Fiction since 2005 as well.
The yahoo group fictionalbloggers started and peaked in 2006. It hobbled along until the middle of 2007 and died (right about the time I found it, of course)
The most recently active site that was dedicated to Blog Fiction was Betsy's Phony Bologna blog. Unfortunately, shortly after finishing her thesis she had to stop writing about them to concentrate on her job.

I think you're starting to see the point. Based on all the searching I've done, Novelr and I are the only ones left still writing about Blog Fiction. And Novelr writes about the more broad topic, Blooks. Or, at least, we're the only English websites still talking about it. I don't think that's a good thing. If more people writing about them, I think it could help to increase the blog fiction audience. I think it's healthy to have multiple views and angles about a subject. I hope more people will pick up the subject.

If I do find a site, or a section of a site, that is dedicated to blog fiction I will link to it. So far though, there are none that I know of that are still active.


Lynn Doiron said...

Interesting info for someone like me just discovering the blogging network (which seems endless). I've added blog fiction to my blogroll at labelitcrime.wordpress.com. I have three writing blogs at present, but the blog novel in progress seemed to fit ficitonblogging definition more closely.

DustinM said...

Hi lynn.
First, thanks for stopping by. Also, Thanks for the link.

I don't think that your crime novel doesn't really fit the definition I'm using for "Blog Fiction". I would describe your writing as a serial novel published online.

However, after exploring your blogs, what did catch my eye was your "Six Degree Stories". If that series is something that you plan on continuing I would be interested. Because that could fit my definition of Blog Fiction. It is a narrative where the experience could change when read online.

Eli said...

I am very sorry to hear that, Dustinm. I admit I'm still new to this scene, and Novelr is winding down this year due to my hectic schedule.

Nevertheless, here is some link love:


James Smythe is still doing his PhD on web fiction, which means this blog is sparsely updated, though when it is it's worth it.


If:book concerns itself with the future of the book - this means they frequently touch on the Internet and how it affects literature. They're broad, though - you'll find much more than blogs here, rather all kinds of experimental methods of storytelling.


Similarly broad is Writer Response Theory. They're like if:book, only ... more academic.


Repository of web fiction, particularly blog novels.


Similar to Pages Unbound, though newer and with less content.


A blog, primarily about reading, which often deals with web fiction.


Lexy is one of the few people who actually makes her living off the medium, so naturally her personal blog is full of incisive insight into the art and craft of blog fiction writing.

Odin said...

Blogfic and I go back to 1992. In the early days there were no tools to self-publish. First you wrote something, then you handcoded a website to publish it on hard-to-come-by server space. That made for a tiny and geeky blogfic niche within the small and geeky internet community. Some of the best blogfic of that era was probably read by fewer than a dozen people.

It was only in the late 1990s that personal publishing applications (we didn't call them "blogs" at first) hit the scene -- first Geocities and Tripod, then Open Diary and Livejournal, and finally Blogger.com and Movable Type. They automated the technical drudgery of maintaining a site. Talk about a revolution -- suddenly anybody could write and publish blogfic. Internet growth was exponential in that era, so a flood of writers reshaped the blogfic community. But it still remained a niche within the larger journaling/blogging phenomenon.

I think the dot-com bubble was the golden age of blogfic. Lots of writers pushing the envelope, lots of internet startups scrambling to monetize blogfic (and other textural content). It still felt new and anything-goes, although with an increasing desperation. The visionaries were already moving onto video, anticipating the prevalence of broadband. The business types were just trying to keep the lights on. The publishable writers were frustrated by the failure of paid online content models and increasingly returned/migrated to dead tree models to make money.

2005 makes a good peak year. It's when YouTube was founded, another revolution in personal publishing applications -- and maybe a watershed in the eventual triumph of visual over textural on the net, who knows? I also don't remember much surviving enthusiasm in my blogfic niche. Instead there was mostly burnout and a feeling that it had all been done before. My email documents a lot of cynical and depressing conversations that year, especially with writers of long-form blogfic.

Blogfic will never be special and privileged again, not like it was in that golden age. There's too many other types of self-published content now, especially video and audio. Blogfic also finds itself competing with new paid content models and distribution systems from the dead tree world. For example, would you rather spend time on new blogfic of questionable quality and publication frequency, or just buy a great ebook on your Amazon Kindle? But you fingered the biggest problem of all -- there's no blogfic aggregator to introduce writers/readers, provide affirmation (if not economic reward), and foster critical mass.

Blogfic will always be a unique value proposition. Nothing beats writing fiction in a hurry for a live audience. And it's always awesome to discover a new writer with real talent and a great concept. I appreciate what you're doing to make both possible.

Lord Likely said...

It does seem that we fiction bloggers exist within an ever-dwindling niche. I am very glad that you are proudly championing the genre, however, and I live in hope that the fiction blog will yet again hit another high.

Onwards and upwards!

DustinM said...

Thanks for the links. I will check them out and watch them for new content.

Thank you for the kind words and encouragement.

Thank you too for the kind words and information. Between you and Eli, the comments for this post now has more content than the post itself. Thank you very much!

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