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  • Writer's pictureCraig Norris

He Who Fights with Monsters: Shirtaloon Talks about Isekai, LitRPG, and Media (part 1)

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

Episode 57 - With host Craig Norris, and special guest Travis Deverell (Shirtaloon) and Peter Wills.
First Broadcast on Edge Radio, 21 January 2021.

Author Travis Deverell (Shirtaloon), the creator of the hit series ‘He Who Fights with Monsters’, and Peter Wills talk with Craig Norris to explore the fascinating worlds of Isekai and LitRPG. Learn how to build your audience and improve your writing skills on platforms like Royal Road, Scribblehub, Discord, and Patreon. Don’t miss this lively conversation about writing, gaming, and the influence of media on our lives. This episode was first broadcast on January 21st, 2021.





Transcript

This is an AI-generated transcript of the audio and it may contain errors. We may update or correct this transcript in the future. Please contact us if you have any questions about the information in this transcript. The audio is the official record of this episode.


Speaker 1

You're about to listen to a blast from the past, a rare gem dug up from the media mothership archives. This episode goes by the shows launch name Media. Tackle the original air date is in the show notes. But for now, just sit back and enjoy this vintage treat.

CRAIG NORRIS

And this is now media tackle. We have Craig Norris, PhD. And I'm joined on today's show by two really special guests. It's been a great pleasure to have both of you guys on Travis Deverell. AKA shirt aloon shirt alone. Yes. Shirt aloon. Yes. It's saying that kind of non confidently. It's an interesting name which I'd like to get around to well known to those who read kind of web novels from his book. He who fights with monsters. Serialised fiction, maybe. I guess book is a bit too, too too narrow to define this huge epoch spanning thing that we'll be talking about and joined by Peter Wills writing. Thanks. How are you?

PETER WILLS

Peter. Yeah, I'm fine, thank.

CRAIG NORRIS

You. I'll get you a bit closer. To the mic, I'm fine. Thank you. Yes. Now you are and. What we're going. To do is discuss, I guess some of the background around the type of writing you do. I mean, most people understand when people are labelled a writer, but it means OK, they write stuff. And within writing, I guess we would define what you do Travis as. Fiction writing. Yes, serialised fiction. Serialised fiction. But that might be the extent of understanding many lay people might have to understand the particular, very, very contemporary genre of writing you're doing. In fact, when I was looking it up, so as I mentioned your you've been writing this. Very long serialised fiction on on a number of web novel fanfic sites that are hosted on Royal Rd, Scribble Hub and within those sites they define the genre that you're writing within as. Action, adventure, fantasy, and I think those 3 so far I'm getting the clues of yeah. Of what it is. And I've read the 1st 9 chapters and I'm thinking yet a lot of action. You've got a protagonist and he's fighting things, but then there were two other terms which I want to spend a bit of time explaining, which is lit RPG and isekai. But before we. Go into kind of unpacking that world of of really kind of new emerging genres. What is he who fights with monsters all about? Let's, let's talk a little bit about defining this, this, this, this. Magnum opus.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

OK, well, it digs into the two things you were talking about LID, IPG and isaki. So lit RPG is from literary role playing game. It's the idea of a story, a written story in which. Video game elements appear within the universe of the story, so in addition to traditional fantasy elements like, you know, magic Dragons, etcetera, there's also this aspect of a video game interface like screens that pop up and you've got character stats, just like in a video game and that's. More or less a a starting point for litter Pete, yeah.

CRAIG NORRIS

And we were chatting a little bit before. We came on. Air about examples that people probably or possibly have seen in movies, and the one which came to my mind, which must be the most standard one now, is the Jumanji. Welcome to the Jungle movie. Where you have the one I remember is like you've got the the Rock and Kevin Hart. Yeah. Then is that the sequel to that one anyway? Landed.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

No, the rock, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan. And Jack Black, Jack. Jack.

Speaker

Black. That's right. Yeah. How could you?

CRAIG NORRIS

Check black. Yeah. And they they get sucked into the video game, and they're in the video game. And then the thing which this movie does, which is really akin to lit RPG as you're explaining it, was, you'll see pop-ups. You'll actually see the mechanics of the video game. In the movie recognised by the characters, they'll. Say Oh my God. I've got character stats screen in front of Maine.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. Lead our PG's very much in that vein except it's obviously the written. 3rd it also tends to incorporate those elements a lot more heavily and more in depth. It depends a lot of them are based off classic modern multiplayer role playing games, so you'll have you know a character that character will have a class. That class will have certain abilities that and you'll go up in levels as you go, and so the characters will do so.

CRAIG NORRIS

So with our PG involves both that word. Literature. So it's literature that you're writing as well as being read in terms of it's all text. You've got paragraphs and dialogue being spoken, and then I I know in in in yours the the, the, the, the the font will change and the layout will change in a way that you realise this is the pop up screen that's being.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

You know. Yeah. Well, that's one of the advantages of working in a purely digital media. My story appears online, as do most stories of my type, and they quite often sort of migrate into ebooks and the like, but. The digital format gives you a freedom to play around with fonts and text and formatting, so you can have a character sheet with boxes for stats and all that sort of thing. That is a lot less practical with traditional publishing.

CRAIG NORRIS

So how how big is this? I mean, given that many people probably have only. Come across it in that really recent film, Jumanji. Welcome to the jungle. Would that be the best example in cinema? Right. Are there any other examples where?

PETER WILLS

I can only think of one that's a game called. It's a movie called Gamer, which isn't quite the same, but it it keeps a colour element in that somebody is actually controlling A felon, as in the the moves he makes on the keyboard. If the interface or what that that person needs to do in real life, which doesn't have so much pop-up text and boxes, but it it, it integrates the game with the real world, which is a a bit better, I think in in talking what Travis's story does. The his main character isn't playing a game and gets to log off and go home. His main character got sent to another world, so he's living his real life and he had specific reasons for for doing it that way, which I'm sure. He'll get to and.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah. And what's interesting about the LED RPG? Genre is, yeah. So you get transported to another world and obviously. Alice in Wonderland Wonderland style, right? So that that convention exists quite old, but here in little. EG the character recognises that they're in a game because of the conventions. That's around them.

Speaker

Yeah, well.

PETER WILLS

Well, that's ohh sorry.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

A PG can be a literal game and create if it is. If you want the more, most contemporary cinematic example that would be ready player one and that would be lit RPG as well. Yeah, it it's. I don't know. That I'd really call it strictly with RPG, but it has an elements because there's that element of going into the game and dealing with interfaces. And so on. Which is because little PG is generally divided into two elements or two sort of categories which is 1, where it's a literal game like. The the characters are playing a game. They may be locked into that game and they'll be able to escape Al a Sword Art Online.

CRAIG NORRIS

Or what's that new Ryan?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Free guy. Yeah, except I believe he's actually a digital character in the.

CRAIG NORRIS

Free guy, yes. Game, but he becomes conscious I guess, which is.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

But yeah, there's the the ones that are in a game. Sometimes it's like a what they call a death game where people are locked in and you can't leave until certain conditions are cleared or whatever. And sometimes it's more of a slice of life thing about people who spend a lot of time in games. And that's sort of the the. Social element they're exploring. And then you've got people who are thrown into an actual, generally a fantasy universe, and that might be they were playing a game and they get thrown into a universe that is like that game, or they could be like mine, where they're thrown into an actual fantasy universe and for whatever reason there are.

CRAIG NORRIS

Video game aspect. So Jumanji would be in that second category people thrown into a game through a portal.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. So, so yeah, yeah. Yeah, because they are actually thrown into. They are taken out of their reality and put.

CRAIG NORRIS

Into an and obviously one of. The problems with all genres is the defining of it is problem. I mean, even like stuff like horror genre. Yeah, there's books and books written and online flame laws about what is and isn't horror and so yeah. Obviously it's limited.

Speaker

It's it's.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

A fact? Yeah, it's the. Same with letter RPG. Some people will say if it's not actually set inside a game, it's not really lit RPG. Other people will say no if it's actually inside a game, that's. Game let and and and it. Goes on and on.

PETER WILLS

And on they start throwing around words like if there's not diegetic elements of then.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because we weren't talking when a Tron is, it's kind of like RPG or not and feeling like it's really not. No, and Tron is not in RPG because even though it involves someone going into a game world.

PETER WILLS

As soon as soon as he gets into the world, that's his world. There's no game messages. There's no system interface. There's nothing to tell him. He's in a game. I I suppose that's one of the defining features. The fact that the main character or the perspective character.

CRAIG NORRIS

Within that game space, yeah.

PETER WILLS

Knows therein something within interface?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And I think it's the thing with Tron. As I was saying earlier is I really think the difference is thematic, because with Tron, they're trying to make the artificial human, whereas lit RPG is about. Taking traditional fantasy and adding that element of artificiality that comes from video game interfaces, as well as being a very handy tool for creating. Conceptual shortcuts for readers, so there's so much fantasy and so many videos, all this stuff around. Now that you can very quickly and concisely introduce concepts just by explaining them in video game.

PETER WILLS

Times. He's a fighter, he's a mage. She's a.

CRAIG NORRIS

Priest so yes. The book you're developing, the main character realises that they're becoming a type of character, or that they're giving they're giving prompts. To to. It's not defining themselves as a character.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, basically it starts off with my protagonist waking up. He doesn't know. Where he is. He doesn't know how he got there, but he immediately starts encountering this video game interface. So his immediate thought is, is this holograms or something because you know, he comes from a grounded real reality. He's person with a sceptical mind. So he tends to analyse these sort of fantastical elements and discern a reason behind them and. So he only sort of slowly has to come to the realisation that this seemingly impossible thing is actually happening. So that's the.

CRAIG NORRIS

Convention of of Lit RPG how big is this space? I mean you were mentioning it's it's links to. Career. I mean, where, where, where, what's? Its history in terms of where did it come from, how long has it been? Looking over in the form, we'd recognise it in today on websites like.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Royal Rd OK, so.

CRAIG NORRIS

Can I get you a bit closer to the mic zone?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

OK, as best I understand it. And I'm no like comprehensive historian of of this particular format or genre but. Serialised fiction as it currently exists as a popular mode of written storytelling. Largely originated in Asia, this is China, Korea, Japan. As a lot of stories will put online and they were delving into sort of genres that weren't being explored in traditional fiction, at least certainly not the West.

CRAIG NORRIS

And this is where. You've got like those visual novels.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And stuff. Yeah, but we what we're talking about here is actual written, you know? So what I I suppose we should talk about what I actually do, just as an introduction. So what? I. Do is I? Release 5 chapters of a story written word. Every week local time, it's like Tuesday to Saturday morning. Which sort of works out to Monday to Friday nights in the US, where most of. My readership is.

CRAIG NORRIS

But so just like with television, where people are watching a serialised. Yeah, like the boys, and they have to be patient each week as as CBS or Netflix kind of doll out the next installment. That's the structure you're in and that that would be standard within web serialised.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, all web series and novels basically come out. However often they come out, be that every single day of the week, Monday to Friday, like me or weekly, monthly. Whatever it happens.

PETER WILLS

And people get very annoyed if they don't get released on time.

CRAIG NORRIS

So yeah, that's right. There is the audience on the other side of this, yes, in this environment of feedback and I know you've got a discord channel and on these websites that you've posted this work, there are also comments. And so you'll you'll get an immediate reaction to what your audience is wanting or.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

When I when I get something wrong. Yeah, but.

PETER WILLS

Releasing them at the moment so. It's more me getting to.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

But there's a lot of weariness in in this Sharon because it's a very it's an amateur space.

CRAIG NORRIS

So yeah, I guess if you wanted to get into it, one of the things recognise is that it's it's a flooded market. It's a huge market and the audience is really picky, right? I mean it's it's a big international. Space and because of the amount of material that's out there, audiences will really want to know that they're on a winner. They're on something which is going to stay the course.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, because people get very wary because it's an amateur space. So a lot of stories get started and then drop. So the thing that people love more than anything else in their stories more than anything else is consistency. So if you reliably keep, if you set a schedule and you keep it consistently. Yeah, you will win and keep readers.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because so far you've, I mean again talking about the success of it to to find your own contribution into this space. You're quite successful now. You've you were saying off there that you've been, you've now secured an audio book being made of of the the web serialisation as well as securing it to appear now as a as a kind of published ebook you can get through Amazon and more kind of. Conventional online book related retailers would know, yeah.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

That'll be much.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, like much, I mean readership and so forth. I mean, to recognise how I guess successful you've been. Looking on the websites, the so you so for instance on Scribble Hub we've got 1.69 million views, 44,000 people have favorited it. We have 363 chapters, it says have 4 chapters a week, which is really good. If you can oversell. Up to five. And then 2.5 readers. And that's just on Scribble hub.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I think it's probably 2.5 K readers rather than 2 1/2.

CRAIG NORRIS

People sorry, 2K, that's right.

Speaker

2 1/2.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, someone. No, but then scribble Hub is actually much. Smaller than Royal Rd royal. Road is sort of the central hub for Western. For the serialised fiction at the moment, like like it or not, and a lot of. People will have problems with the Royal Rd.

CRAIG NORRIS

All right. Yeah. So on rural roads here. Are the stats. For Royal Rd overall, over 13 million views, so that's huge, right? That that's put you at 4.5 stars does that. Mean a lot.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

The 4.5 stars isn't about the fuse. That's about the ratings.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right, so people. Have rated it really highly at an overall. Score of 4.5.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, at one point is really quite high, but. My story in particular gets it doesn't get a. Lot of middle of the road. Reviews I get. A lot of people who. Enjoy it very much and I. Get a lot of people who? Detest it with a passion. So why is?

CRAIG NORRIS

It so polarising, why?

PETER WILLS

His main character mostly.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, mostly the main character. My main character is a distinctive guy. He's. He's arrogant, he's rash, which which generally doesn't work out so poorly in this particular genre, but he also gets punished for being that. Quite a bit.

CRAIG NORRIS

Do people dislike the character or just because? People would see a lot of themselves. In a character like that.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

A lot of people dislike he's got. Which you might call social justice warrior tendencies.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right, right. So.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Cause a large part of his character is that he's. He's he grew up in a Western society, relatively privileged, like rich or anything. But, you know, he lives he in, you know, Australia on the East Coast, Big City, so. He has a lot of like sort. Of you might call. Him left leaning principal. Socially progressive principles and he brings those to a fantasy world where life is harder and meaner and.

PETER WILLS

And they really are monsters. You need to keep.

Speaker

Just let out and.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. So he so he.

CRAIG NORRIS

Is the tensions with Game of Thrones right that that, you know, the way women were treated and Game of Thrones got a lot of pushback in the later seasons because it was seen as really misogynistic and really out of step with the current temperament of progressive? Yeah. You know, hashtag me to. Society. Yeah. So. So here we have a character that is very progressive. In a kind of, yeah, but again a. Lot of people. Like that, non progressiveness and sadly.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, yeah. But he's very and a lot of, and that's where a lot of the dislike comes from because. He doesn't like. To shut up, either so he tends to go on great big screeds about whatever moral idea he happens to be up on his high. Horse about and then you. Know and and and quite often he's. Demonstrated to be just full of hot air, but people dislike when he goes on this.

PETER WILLS

That's great.

CRAIG NORRIS

So by people the readers, yes.

Speaker 1

There, there, there.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

There are people, there are whole reviews, quite lengthy ones, explaining ways terrible for going on political rants, and because he he's also an atheist. Up until Chapter 46, where he meets a God. Which pretty much puts an end to the atheism. But. And yeah, there there's all but a lot of it is more progressive political ideas cause he's actually, literally an SJW.

CRAIG NORRIS

So what does that mean and as?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

A cook, an SJW social justice warrior, social justice warrior cook is an SJW cuck is you know, something that people of a certain viewpoint view as one of the harsher criticisms they can levy.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Person and he is literally one.

CRAIG NORRIS

And within this space. OK, so one of the things that I really enjoy about discussing your contribution to lit RPG is how you've been successful. And those are enormous views and that the patrons being incredibly successful. Yet as you're talking about, there's a. Lot of hostility. To your work in. The community there are some lovers of your work, but it's quite polarising. So what is an example of the type of typical? Lit RPG that. You're kind of critiquing here, right? I mean, are? There actually RPG's. You're about guys going on adventures and into. I mean, I know in Japan, in Japanese anime there are some harem adventures where. It's all about.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there. Was a lot of talk of about harems and stuff earlier, and I saw in the discussion because people didn't know if it was going. To be 1. And that's because some people love it. Some people.

CRAIG NORRIS

The harem genre. Hate it. So to define the harem genre that is one of the really cliched and somewhat misogynistic. Kind of. Well, building genres where the male character often goes into another world, or at least suddenly this this worthless, worthless guy suddenly gets the attraction of a lot of women.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. So with Haram. Typically there are a large number of. Non mutually exclusive female love interest you also do get reverse Harum where it's a girl who has a large number of non mutually exclusive male of interest.

CRAIG NORRIS

But and I guess for me like I always think about those 1960s US series like bewitched or I dream of Genie, where you have a very clever talented. Female character married to a kind of dropkick bloke, but you know it's very patriarchal and the. Guy is you. Know the the the one that that benefits mostly from from episode to episode, yeah.

Speaker

Well, a lot of.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

It is a reaction to we were talking about the origins in translated works from China. And from China specifically, they have cultivation novels. And my story sort of engages with the cultivation novel cultivation novel is basically a form of fantasy. It's frequently based a lot in Daoism with elements of like Buddhism, Confucianism.

CRAIG NORRIS

So the main character is developing a spiritual pathway and becoming a magician.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, but yeah, it's it's sort of a they they tend to start sort of quite martial art and then move into more of a very much a magician sort of thing. There's this. Idea of like. Defying the heavens. As you grow in power and you meet certain thresholds and you go through sort of levels of reality, so you might start in a mortal world and then you'll go up to what the mortal world to think is heaven. And then you'll go up to what the the heaven thinks is like, super. Heaven and this?

CRAIG NORRIS

Is again telling the story of them in. Character who is.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Who's growing in power? They are cultivating their power.

PETER WILLS

And as they grow in power, they become increasingly attractive to all of the women because this.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

No, they don't. They start. That way, yeah, but really.

PETER WILLS

This is true, but you know.

CRAIG NORRIS

So they sound very much like. Classic Greek mythologies, right? These.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Are thousands of chapters. You'll get. You'll generally only have one or two women on the go. At once, he'll quite frequently marry. Them and then like leave them behind because nobody is getting as strong as fast as he is. So in these cultivation novels they'll they'll often sort of raise through ranks and meet. Entirely new cast of characters as they go.

CRAIG NORRIS

So has any of this become mainstream? Are there any examples of cultivation? Novels which have started to.

PETER WILLS

You can find quite a lot of them on Amazon. There's there's some quite big, quite successful authors on Amazon that do similar things.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And translated once there's one, I think it's called Coiling Dragon coiling Dragon. Ohh, it's one of the earlier ones and that is actually a I don't know how strictly cultivation that is. I haven't read in a while, but that's China. Chinese authors take on Western fantasy. Which is actually really fascinating.

CRAIG NORRIS

So he said it in a kind of Jr. Token were the rings world.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Or yeah, but in from a very sort of Chinese cultivation, novel sensibility. Right. Well, you have again, this this character that becomes really overpowered because what you generally have, and this is true for a lot of serialised fiction, be that cultivation or litter. You'll generally have a main character who is relatively. Ordinary and they'll get thrown into another world. UM. Or they'll find an object, but they'll have a cheat what's called a cheat, which is basically the thing that lets them catch up to all the people who are sort of born into that kind.

CRAIG NORRIS

Of power? Yeah, cause we wouldn't live a day, I.

Speaker

Mean as we.

CRAIG NORRIS

Were talking about being protagonists like you. Take a guy that's worked part time at Bunnings. Or he's he sits behind a computer all day and suddenly finds themselves in a fantasy world. We we just don't have the stamina or resilience to survive long in those worlds.

PETER WILLS

The first guy with a knife is just gonna kill you. Cause when's the last time you interacted with a knife? That wasn't cooking exactly.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, realistically, that and again that. Would destroy the fiction, right? I mean. We've gotta get that suspension of disbelief. Hurdle overcome.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

So. So in this sense, you tend to have a cheat, which is the mechanism by which you catch up, and that's something I was very conscious of because one of.

CRAIG NORRIS

The cheese.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

The problems in. Especially cultivation novels. Is that you get this cheat. And because you've got this cheat, you don't really earn like your your protagonist doesn't really earn any of his accomplishments, but the world treats him as amazing for having these accomplishments, which gives you something to disconnect from your character.

PETER WILLS

There's a phrase that's used in. I don't know what it's called, but it sums it up nicely. Where the woman Travis was telling me about this when he read this story after he stopped reading because it was just so misogyny. Sick from this particular author, I won't don't wanna put out that they're all misogynistic, but this guy was an amateur author and he wrote his power fantasy and in it, one of the women says you are a dragon amongst men. I must marry you.

CRAIG NORRIS

So that's a real wish fulfilment fantasy from.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I'm just another big thing that I don't have in my story, but appears in all of these knuckles is the idea of going back in time to do your life over again. So basically you'll have a character who life crapped all over, but then they get sent back in time. And they get the chance to do everything, and their cheat is the fact that they know what's coming, so they get to sort of go from the start and and use all the advantages and all that sort of thing. And in the, let's call them the the less well written ones they'll meet. Over women who rejected them along the. Day and they'll get this sense of having missed an opportunity after they realise that this man is a dragon amongst men.

CRAIG NORRIS

And these are the web novels. So again, when we're talking about here for those people that I guess don't inhabit this space, what we're talking about here is an enormous web novel publication space. A lot of it's pretty much exclusively all amateur authors, some of them. You know the kind of 1% maybe stop making their way. Up through that. Order and get filtered through ranking lists so they become quite popular. But but yeah, I mean, for the unwary, there's tonnes and tonnes of. I mean, I'm more familiar, I guess. With fan fiction, which? Has elements of this. As well, where you know someone.

PETER WILLS

Quite a few of them started as fan fiction.

CRAIG NORRIS

Will like themselves, right?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, actually, a lot of the the contemporary space was sort of a a meeting of sort of Western fan fiction. And the the sort of structures and concepts that came from these Asian translated stories.

CRAIG NORRIS

And they sort of.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, and they sort. Of met in the middle. And now you have these English language original stories that are huge and everywhere now.

CRAIG NORRIS

So whereas fanfiction draws upon like a it's said explicitly in the world of Harry Potter. But hey, there's a new character which bears a striking resemblance to the person that's writing it. That's a Mary Sue yeah fanfic anyway, can't be.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. Well, Mary Sue is probably worth its own show.

CRAIG NORRIS

Or they they change the they do a shipping. Yeah, fanfic where the relationship 2 characters either of the same gender or not as a kind of wish fulfilment fantasy. Yep.

PETER WILLS

It it's it's similar to DJI I think.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right, the Japanese turned to jinchi. Yep, then.

PETER WILLS

That's pronunciation, yeah. Yeah, where? But not everybody can write. It can draw like that and certainly not everybody can put drawings like that onto the web, whereas anybody from their phone these days can upload text. So if you write something set in. The world that you love, that is fan fiction. Well, a lot of the next step being write something that is in a world that you create.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

OK. And that's how a lot of people get into this sort. Of space, they'll start.

CRAIG NORRIS

With fan fiction, and they'll sort of then use that to sort of refine their craft. And I think that makes a lot of sense to me and some of the interviews and research I've read around it have pointed out that, you know, look for a a young teenage author or a young author or a new author or a first time writer. If they're struggling writing a character from. Another agendas perspective. But they know what Hermione thinks through and through from Harry Potter, because they read the book so many times, then it makes sense riding a fanfic to develop that writing, chop in terms of being able to write a believable female character because you know that character and it's it's conventions there. So.

PETER WILLS

Use a previous scaffold to create a new construct.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, very much that scaffold idea. But you've gone in and developed your own world in itself, but but drawing liberally across, I guess. In your way, the kind of fannish element of it I see is. Is that kind of video game fan right that you draw broadly from conventions of the video game world and then conventions more narrowly within lit RPG that you're wanting to to kind of poke in the ribs?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. So I explore, yeah, explore a lot of those ideas. Like, very early on, when people weren't sure if my story is going to be a Haram. Every time a new female character pops up, this discussion is this character going in the Hara?

Speaker

Or parity.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

That that eventually dropped off.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because would you say I mean? Who would be the main demographic of reader? For your work is. There. Is there any skills?

PETER WILLS

Young males.

CRAIG NORRIS

I mean that would, yeah. And that would be the cliche as well. And then it would that be the reference?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I I would, I would. I would. Guess young men, but. That would actually be a guess.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because there's no.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

I I don't have any demographic stats.

PETER WILLS

On the other hand, I read quite a few of them. I'm not a young man. I'm young at heart. There we go. But yeah, there there would be. Let's put it this way. There's people who have the ability to pay him every. Month in order to continue reading it it chapters in advance of the releases. So obviously these people are job age. There's not just a whole bunch of like casually, independently wealthy children reading this stuff, so that they must be working. Age at least.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

That being said, my you know the. The because all my chapters go for free. And people pay me to get access to chapters a month or so early.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right. Yes. So I do want to talk about the mechanics of the, you know, how this is a sustainable economy for someone to enter into. And obviously the problem with any cultural work is that the success ratio to failure ratio is so out of whack, right? I mean, there's what, like a 1% success tour? 99% failure, as in everything from Hollywood. Down or maybe up, depending upon your point of view with Hollywood's value. So so within this space, though it is, and it's great having you on because you do provide that example of someone who has been able to wrestle and secure well deserved success in a huge flooded market. And I would like to talk a bit about how that Petri. Space has been able to open that up. Up, but we might take. A break I. Mean we've just been laying the groundwork. I guess we've got most of the terms done. There was one other term maybe before we go to us and I quickly. Want to define. Because it's the one which dominates my head when I think of like RPG, which is isekai isekai. Sorry, which is?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Basically, portal fantasy. I mean that's.

PETER WILLS

The lion. The witch in the.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. I mean, Mark Twain did a portal.

CRAIG NORRIS

Fantasy. So it's literally, yeah, the Alice in Wonderland. The. Yeah. You go through literally a portal. Yeah. That goes from one world to another world.

PETER WILLS

John Carter was she's another one.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right. Yes, but.

Speaker 2

Edgar Rice bars.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, but Isoko is a Japanese term, obviously, and that's where the popularity of it has exploded massively over the.

Speaker 2

I think that's.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Last oh, I know, decade and a half now.

CRAIG NORRIS

I guess and it's. Pretty much supplanted in terms of this this. These, these, these, these. Platforms you know for scribble hub and Royal Rd. The Japanese term is the one that's that's deferred too often to locate the work as this story will involve someone going through a magical portal or some portal to another world isekai. Yeah. OK, great. So what we'll do is play quick song and come back and talk about the mechanics of success the. Top five tips. For the boys and girls out there, if they would also like to one day write their own self sustaining lit RPG's to. Live off of.

Speaker 1

Edge radio unapologetically edgy.

Speaker 2

Skipping school again. The future seems so bright that I can't see get out. And he said everything will be better once we. Then no. He was just trying to make me feel better. Wanna feel better? This club, what's happen? Listening me. Feel better? Ready to. We're ready to. Just go. Who doesn't get?

CRAIG NORRIS

Alrighty. Hey, that was Matt Vaser. We've been announced. Yeah, I really hit that are that's why a lot of people think I'm from America, which I'm not. But I hit us strongly. Maybe that could be my new name, the HR hitter.

PETER WILLS

It's just a pity there's no PR in. PH. D then.

CRAIG NORRIS

I'm Craig Norris, PhD, and this is media tackle. I'm joined by Travis and Peter talking about the world of self publishing, writing in webs, novels when novel writing for web novels, and how to make that. One of the things that's really interesting is we hear the sounds of the Internet around us is that that you've been? Able to break through Travis. I mean, how did you know you'd break broken through? What was the point? You realised. OK. What I've set up has actually managed to. To work.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Well, obviously ideally you want to be able to sustain yourself with what you do.

CRAIG NORRIS

Closer to Mike. These are words of gold.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

OK, so you want to be able to sustain yourself with what you do and. Most people who work in. My area because you can publish traditional fiction, go to a publisher, they'll make a book and they'll sell it. And give you money. Then there's self publication which is becoming an increasingly. A viable field?

CRAIG NORRIS

Because there's nothing to stop someone just going on putting something on Amazon. To date.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, that's that's very straightforward. That's sort of the other end. And in the middle is people who sort of professionally self publish. I'm sort of way down even past the Amazon chain. You get to people who just post things online on websites specifically for posting stories online.

CRAIG NORRIS

And these spaces are really great in terms of providing feedback to new. Others are supportive and quote Mark communities, which will hopefully, yeah. No, just so yeah, there's a. Lot of fanfic well.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Because they have sort of these established communities and there are people out there who are looking for new stories and they'll recommend them in forums and that sort of thing and that's one. Of the way people find it. One of the things that really helped me because with a website called Royal Rd there's, you know, 10s of thousands of stories. There's people creating new stories every single day, and they're constantly making new chapters and they're going up and they're going up one of, if you can get yourself onto the front page of Royal Rd, you will have your. Like a real explosion of red. Ship. So after you've been after you've been uploading a story consistently for a month. You then qualify to get on that trending. Page, so if you're. If it finds your stats are going well, they'll plunk you on the trending page that tends to get you a huge boost, and they have popularity lists. They have the the top rated stories list. I think I. Got to #3 on there at one point. There's the most popular list I've been on there most of the time, and this is because and when the training was came around, I start at the top of it because I I got a jump start because one of the things you have is people who do a lot of. They find new things and they review it, put it out their reviews out there for people to, you know, find and read. And they're one of the list. There is the top reviews. And so for a very long time, the top rated review on the website was of my story. So even though it was the review that. Got the attention? The fact that it was for my story drew in lots and lots and lots of new audience members, especially given that it. Was a positive review.

PETER WILLS

And it was a case of stepwise exposure. He was on the new release page, then the person reviewed him and the review was up. After he dropped off the new release page. Then when the, by the time that review dropped off, he was on the trending page. And then by the time the trending page dropped off, he was in the top three, which. Is the front page of that website.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

The visibility so that.

PETER WILLS

So for four weeks and weeks, he.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Did really well for.

PETER WILLS

Was on the front page.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Me so cuz. 11. Of the mistakes people make is the way people get paid is through Patreon. For anyone not familiar, Patreon is a place where people doing creative work on the Internet can be paid for their trouble by their.

CRAIG NORRIS

Audience and it could be as. Little as well yours is just. $1.00 as a as a.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

11 dollar $1.00 a month is the minimum thing.

CRAIG NORRIS

And then you can have different like this one dollar one a three $5 one and a $10 one which gives you different.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. Access. So the traditional model with stories is the various tiers of support will get access to different levels of advanced chapters. So for $10 a month, you get access to all my chapters a month. Ahead, but the vast majority of my readers don't pay anything. They just go to Royal Rd and read it.

CRAIG NORRIS

For free, even though that content is a month behind.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yes, because I yeah, cause I I.

CRAIG NORRIS

What will be released?

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Get an average. Of 2530 thousand readers per chapter.

CRAIG NORRIS

25 to 30.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

1000 something like that and but there's only what 2000, something people actually financially supporting me, and that's fine. That's how it works. I'm very comfortable where I'm sitting right now.

CRAIG NORRIS

It's good.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

But one of the mistakes people make is they will drop like 3 chapters. The 1st 3 chapters of the story and this that Patriot. And it's it. It doesn't inspire confidence in readers.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because they.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

They they want, they want consistency. Consistency is key if you're reliable. You will, you'll get and you'll keep readers, provided your story is actually good enough, cause if you're reliable and. You're really, really. Bad at English.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because by the time I guess. You've got those reviews and we're on the. Front page you've. You've got quite a bit of content under your belt, that's. Online. Yeah, so.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

And I tell this to everyone who asks me, cause I get some people who want to do this professionally, and I will say preparation. I had lots of chapters ready beforehand. I start, I do. I really.

CRAIG NORRIS

Saw a lot of chapters.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

75.

CRAIG NORRIS

Is that is that what you said? That's a lot.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Well it it depends. I would have liked to. Have had.

CRAIG NORRIS

More and by that the chapter is about 1002 thousand.

PETER WILLS

Words after 3002. Oh, sorry 2.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

It it's it's it's it's it's yeah it's it's. Started off somewhere around the 2000 mark, I think my average is about 2700 per chapter, but. I had these 75 chapters and I started off. I normally release 5 chapters a week, but that first week I released 15 chapters, a AAA 3E for a day. The next week it. Was two every. Day and then the third week it was my moved into my normal release schedule. And so I had what's it three weeks. 30 chapter. And that gave people a confidence. Yeah, in in what was going to happen because I I didn't just sort of blindly amble into this either. I did a lot of research in how to be successful at this sort of thing because I wanted to make. A career out of this?

CRAIG NORRIS

So you. Become very familiar with the. Web portals themselves.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

The Royal Rd. Yeah, so I've familiarised myself with the the various formats, the places I wanted to upload, how and because there there is stuff out there from people sort of explaining things that will help you find success. And I found the ones that worked for me, the ones that did. I also massively underestimated how much work. It would be not just the writing, but the sort of the things about the writing, the the posting and the formatting of chapters and all that sort of thing, which is why I now have a writers assistant. To help me. Do all that stuff and by which I mean have him do all.

CRAIG NORRIS

That stuff. But yeah, you can't underestimate the fact that getting this stuff out of red isn't just having a good story. It's also being able to to punctuate and to format because it does make it so much.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

More readable. Ohh yeah, revision is very important, but preparation is key so that it came down to reset. Much it came down to having chapters in the because once I had my 30 chapters out. In three weeks. Then that was about the point I started getting. I built up an audience by that point because the review had gone out and I had this sort of explosion. I think one of the things I had to learn was. Sort of community engagement. Engaging people within the comments. I wasn't particularly good.

CRAIG NORRIS

At it start with. How did you do that? You just tried to reply. To as many. As you could, thanks for the comments.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah, as it seemed appropriate because I didn't want to just make facetious, you know, thank you for thinking. I tried to. Engage with readers. Because an engaged community is a community that keeps coming back.

PETER WILLS

When he stopped writing, when he was writing, and I'd go into his room and he just like, I've written 500 words, I need a break. And one of the things he do is he go on to the Royal Rd comments and find out what people were thinking about the previous chapter and maybe respond once or twice. And so it created a very organic feedback loop. They didn't know when he'd be on, but he would be on during the.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Day. Yeah. And now I've sort of translated it to the discord, which is something I was. A A bit reluctant. About cause I'm not a big social media engager.

CRAIG NORRIS

So discord it's a. Very large kind of hub of communication.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Chat. Yeah. And you can basically set up your own server to serve your own community. So I have my discord server where readers. Can come in and there's different channels like. There's one for. The people who are just reading the free chapters, so there's not allowed to be any spoilers in that one. And then there's the advanced chapters and. And there's there's, like, some special channels for people who pay me way too much.

CRAIG NORRIS

Money within there are moderators and.

Speaker

And and like and.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Yeah. And they get to, yeah. So wow. They get to ask me questions that I will ask like people ask me questions a lot and I try and engage. But I've also got this channel for the people who pay way too much money, and I'll always answer their questions. But.

CRAIG NORRIS

Because yeah, some of the questions must. Be very finicky.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Oh yeah. Because a very large part of what people like about my story is the sort of magic system. Which is non traditional compared to a lot of like RPG's. And there's a lot of sophistication to it and people have really engaged with that in a big way. So they ask like lots of questions, what happens with, you know this and this and this and. And so I try a couple of times a week, I'll try and sort of take. A question someone asked and do sort of a deep dive into that sort of little specific corner of the system and and and put that up on the discord.

CRAIG NORRIS

You'll put that up. On the discord page or. For people to read, so it's a real again, that idea of transmedia by Henry Jenkins where where some of the world buildings going on. Off mothership, right. So the mothership is very much your published weekly novel, but for those fans that want more, they get a discord. And from the author himself.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

They'll get, yeah. And discord is that place where I explore corners of the world building that won't make it into the texts.

PETER WILLS

And as he said, preparation is key because he has that he has a Bible. When somebody asks a question with, like, what does this essence do in this situation with this spell, presuming it's Tuesday?

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, because you don't want to.

PETER WILLS

As he's got that answer.

CRAIG NORRIS

Come across apps.

Speaker 2

Yeah, yeah.

PETER WILLS

Usually the answer is same as every other day, but he will have an answer.

CRAIG NORRIS

And sometimes you have to bluff, and well, I shouldn't ask that. That's very cool. But it is difficult, isn't it? To well, I mean.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

It's not bluffing. It's someone asked a question that I haven't considered, and because it's not like a live chat situation exactly. I mean it can be. But because of no live chat situation. That gives you. Hope, but I've never considered that. So I sit down and I work it out and I add it to my notes and then I can just sort of put. It out there for people.

CRAIG NORRIS

To look at, which is the most fruitful. Part of having it audience, they, they, they.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Ohh yeah, it's it's it's fantastic but.

PETER WILLS

Make the world better, and occasionally he makes slight. Errors like the duck essence.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

What? Yeah, cause the the core of my system is those sort of thematic sets of abilities that people get. And I I made an offhand comment about someone having duck powers. And the community latched on to that a lot more than I ever actually anticipated. So ultimately that did make its way into. I did a series of side stories when I was on a break between volumes one and two. I did a series of side stories and. One was a flashback. To this sort of legendary Elven hunter with duck power. I think his name was like Brian.

PETER WILLS

Brian son of Keith.

CRAIG NORRIS

Yeah, well, OK, if we can, as you're wrapping up towards the top of the one last tip, is there anything in particular you'd like to leave our audience with? Last tip, the last word of advice.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

No. Well, what I was talking about like. Preparation. If, if this is something. You want to get into. Don't come into it lightly. Like I was explaining earlier. How I did that audience build up and I was only once. People started asking if, you know, if I was going to put. Up a Patreon. That I actually launched my Patreon because there's an expectation of advanced chapters. Coming from tears so people was like well. Because I started. Off with lots of chapters and then slowly slowed that down to my normal rate, which point people like. I want another great big lot of chapters so and this is another reason preparation is important because when my Patreon launched. It was 20 chapters like.

CRAIG NORRIS

Right. That they, yeah, that they got that's. A great incentive.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

They yeah. So immediately they can like, jump. Ahead 20 chapters. And then you did the stretch goals. Oh yeah, I I, I. Had some gold cause I had no expectation of it being super successful, I was hoping I'd get enough to live on, so I set sort of some modest goals. One was like, OK, forget this much. That's about half of what I need to. Sort of live on. And then at the other stretch goal is like I can live on. That much money. And I was hoping in a couple of months I'd sort of get to that point of self. Training it took a day and a half and each goal came with a promise of. More double chapter.

CRAIG NORRIS

Weeks. Wow. So all of.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

The the the chapters are built up. Are away, they went. So I I started off very. The that first month I was very, very tired. I was working 18 hour days to make sure everything was edited and formatted because I was still learning so many things and sort of learning community engagement and and I still had to keep pumping out more chapters. So that once all of those chapters had ready were done, I had more chapters to release.

CRAIG NORRIS

Well, well, sobering words to end on.

PETER WILLS

Peter, if I was going to give my outside perspective as the last one have friends, people you can rely on because I'm, I'm the assistant now. But since day one, in fact, since the previous iteration of this story, I've been basically his line. Letter because I'd love the story. I wanna read it. And the guy who writes it's next door. So this is in the next room. So I say give me the chapter and he does. And then I read it and I see where the things where he's miss edited because he's cutting and pasting or missed out a word or write the instead of the. Me and I'll point that out to him and it'll go out. And that makes the story easier to read him better. He's got an entire other guy. He posts it to first, who gives him sort of content editing. So having people you can show your work not working in a vacuum and you.

TRAVIS DEVERELL

Want to give to people your trust to tell you what's wrong? Not who will you know? Tell you that it's great. But I guess if there was one thing I was going to say, if you want to do this as a job. Treated us. If you try and sort of half measure it. Sort of dabble. It can be a fantastic hobby, but if you want to do it as a job and be successful, you have to treat it like.

CRAIG NORRIS

Travis, Peter, thank you so much for joining us this week on media tackle. Lot of fun, really, really informative and might get you back on in the future to hear how it's all going since since now. Thanks for. So keep listening to Edge radio. We've got news and journalism coming up next.

PETER WILLS

Look forward to it.






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