Web Fiction

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Synonyms: web novel, webnovel, web serial, cell phone novel
See also: cnovel, danmei
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Web fiction is a term used to refer to fictional written works that were first made available online. Web fiction is frequently serialized, meaning that it is published in segments rather than as a whole work. Some web fiction is later made available in print or in ebook form through a traditional publisher.


Web fiction is nearly as old as the internet. One of the earliest web fiction fandoms was "Spotfans," fans of the story featured on thespot.com, which started in 1997.[1]


Web novels

Web novels are novels that are initially published online. They are particularly popular in China, South Korea, and Japan, but have been gaining ground elsewhere as well. Most webnovels are hosted on a webnovel site and released chapter by chapter. Some are free, while others charge per chapter or require a subscription.

Cnovels are webnovels published in China. While cnovels encompass a variety of genres, many of those that have caught on in Western fandom are danmei novels, or novels featuring a romance between two men. Plotlines involving transmigration are also popular. Such novels are often adapted into manhua, donghua, or live-action dramas.

Japanese webnovels often come to the attention of Western fandom when they are adapted into an anime or manga. Many popular Japanese webnovels feature transmigration and isekai plotlines.

Korean webnovels also frequently feature such plotlines, and often come to the attention of Western fandom after being adapted into a webcomic. Three of the most popular Korean novels among Western slash fandom are often referred to as The Holy Trinity.

English-language webnovels often include tropes popular in webnovels written in other languages, but are also heavily influenced by English-language popular culture.

Cell Phone Novels

Cell phone novels are novels written and read on cellular phones. Typically, these are serialized stories that authors send directly to readers via a subscription service, text, or email.

The earliest known cell phone novel was published in Japan in 2003. Initially, most cell phone novels were focused on romance, and were written by and for young women, primarily under pseudonyms.[2] However, over time the format has expanded to include a wider range of subjects and has become more popular worldwide.[3]

Interactive Fiction

This type of web fiction encourages audience participation, frequently via allowing readers to choose between hyperlinked options that take them to different outcomes. This type of interactive fiction is often compared to the Choose Your Own Adventure novel series, or to visual novels.[4]



Over time, it has become easier to access legal translations of foreign-language web fiction, but many still start out as fan translations. As a result, there is a fair amount of conflict between fans of official translations and those who think fan translators did better work.