Category Archives: Literature

Review: How to Write Light Novels and Webnovels

Lately I’ve been reading a bunch of books on writing and self-publishing, and this one suddenly popped up on my Kindle the other day.

There’s some good information here, particularly on all the different genres of light novels and web novels. I thought I knew what all the different light novel genres were, but come to think of it, I’ve always been a bit confused about the difference in categorization between, say, Sword Art Online and Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? This book does a good job explaining the differences between all the different genres and subgenera that are popular in web fiction and Japanese LNs in particular. It’s especially useful to have information on Chinese and Korean-specific genres, since that whole realm was a big unknown to me.

However, there are some major editing problems here. Normally when I say that I would be referring to typos, but if anything, that’s less of a problem here than it is with most self-published Kindle books. Either R.A. Paterson is a good proofreader or got someone experienced to proof his copy, and more power to him for doing it.

The problem here is a lack of content editing. The book is way too wordy and repetitive, and a good editor could have easily cut the fat here. Somewhere during Paterson’s description of the Rising Hero Stories, I realized I was reading the same thing over and over again and started to get really bored. He also makes a point of emphasizing things that anyone who takes fiction writing seriously should already know intuitively, which is a common problem in writing books in general.

Yeah, everyone can benefit from some tips, but if you really need to be told that your characters need to have character and the action needs to have stakes, a writing book may not be able to do much for you, you know? You mean…the audience needs to care about your characters? Wow. That is grade-A information right there.

Another problem with the book is one of authority. Paterson does have a portfolio of writing work online, but his real expertise seems to be in producing audio dramas. Has he really had the level of success with these varieties of fiction specifically to be providing advice? Maybe he’s racking up the reads on Wattpad or something, but if he is, I’m not aware of it. I certainly don’t want to be too critical of Paterson, because he’s made much more progress creating otaku-centric fiction than most people; I’m just saying that, if the book is about writing light novels, you would typically expect it to be written by a successful light novel writer.

That said, if you’re really interested in light novels and web serials and happen to have Kindle Unlimited, it’s not a bad idea to give this a borrow. You’ll probably learn something about a genre you didn’t know existed (like I did) and may find yourself psyched up to get moving on your writing projects. Just don’t expect a fully professional, polished book; I certainly wouldn’t recommend paying the listed price of $6.99.

This book should be edited and polished, be sold for a lower price, or preferably, both; otherwise, I only recommend it to those who can borrow it through KU. However, if Paterson or his team make the necessary changes, I will be more than happy to revise my review.