The literacy world is chock-full of amazing books that are in print and e-book form for your kids and students to enjoy. If your child, especially if they’re a teen, is always searching the web, but you’d like them to get more reading and writing in their life, consider starting your own web series with your kiddo! In this article, you’ll learn how to start a web series with your kids.
A web-series is an online story written in book format. The genres can be anything that captures your child’s imagination including: coming of age stories, fairy tales, mysteries, or even a steam-punk-Sherlock-Holmes-inspired saga. Starting a web-series can involve your child in the literacy world and can get them interested in writing, editing and maybe even illustrating.
To start your web-series let’s first review the different forms of web-based storytelling.
Types of Web-Series
1: Traditional Book Web-Series (Middle Grade – Young Adult Category)
Writing a traditional web-series is similar to writing a book, but is published online, one section or chapter at a time. The key to fitting into the “traditional” category is that your child’s story is an original, never before seen, world or character. An originally created story gives kids endless possibilities to create worlds, unique characters and control their own plots. Traditional web-series are usually best suited for a more experienced writer or teen. If this is your child’s first foray into writing, consider some of the other options listed below.
Tip for authors! This is also a great writing exercise for authors looking for a way to grow their teen fan base.
2: Fan Fiction and Shared World
Fan fiction is a widely popular genre in the literacy world for kids and teens. What’s fan fiction? Basically the definition is just as it’s written. A fan’s form of fiction. Fan fiction (or fan fic) can be considered a genre because of its popularity. In fact, it’s where the term “fan girl” originated! Fan fiction is when your child selects an existing character from an existing “world”. For example, they could select Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter series. Then your child could write Hermoine her own adventure in J.K. Rowlings’ world of magic and wizardry. Your child controls the path that Hermoine will take including the risks, dangers and triumphs she will have. Maybe she’ll be rescuing a house elf? Or discovering an ancient treasure using a map she found in a library? It’s up to your child to decide!
You can find thousands of fan fiction examples on Fanfiction.net where kids and teens write about their favorite characters in literature, manga and anime, comics, movies and so much more. Another perfect example of fan fiction can be found on Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil website where kids write their own fan fiction on a daily basis. Read all about how Soman made his amazing website here!
If your child wants to write within an existing fantasy world, but with their own character, try using “shared world” techniques. This is a good, creative middle-ground because a child can “play” in a book world they love (and save the frustration of creating their own world), but invent their own characters. This allows your child to get right into the character development and starting the seeds for their own story!
Web comics are one of the most popular genres in the web-series form. Many art students who are recent graduates of colleges and universities start their own web-comics to build a dedicated readership, a.k.a. a fan base. This type of series can get kids and teens interested in art and illustration and would make a perfect class project. If one of your kids or students enjoys writing and the other illustrating, why not create a web-comic together?
Now that you understand the most popular forms of web-series, let’s talk about which platform you should use to broaden your readership outreach.
If you or a family member is willing to spend the time developing a website, WordPress will give you the most flexibility for organizing and showcasing your child’s stories online. There are several themes to select from, but it can be overwhelming and expensive if you need to hire a web developer. One subscription-based website tool that works well, especially if you have beautiful graphics or images, is Wix. Wix costs a bit more money, but will save you a lot of hassle and their slick templates can make your website look professional (even if it’s not).
If you’re overwhelmed with the idea of using WordPress or creating your own website, try using Tumblr. Tumblr is and always will be one of the best platforms to use when starting your web-series. Here are a few reasons why:
1) If your target audience is kids and teens this is where to find them.
2) Most kids and teens relate to websites that are simple and easy to use.
3) Tumblr has preset themes you can use, preferably made for book series and comics.
4) You can follow blogs that represent your genre, which will get your much more than views.
Tumblr is simple to use and very trendy for teens (hey, Taylor Swift uses it so it’s become the artistic, social platform of choice!). Moving forward, we’re going to be showcasing how we would use Tumblr because it’s the simplest tool for kids. Now let’s keep going!
Your theme should look similar to this picture below. Here you have a simple banner with your title and name and a little doodle of your main character. You also have many links at the top of your website which all lead to different, specific sections of your blog.
Here is a list of common links (at the top of your Tumblr account page):
Home: Leads you back to the most recent blog post
Read “XYZ story”: Leads you to a page filled with the #XYZstory tag
FAQ: Leads you to a page with the #ask tag. This is where you can find all of the recently answered questions about the series.
Question About the Series?: Here is where people can ask questions about the series. (Note: People don’t have to have a Tumblr account in order to ask a question. It’s a plus if they do because they might follow your blog!)
Archive: The archive is an online library for all of the blog posts you’ve made in the past. Here your readers can find your first post from way-back-when.
About: This section can either be about the author/illustrator/cartoonist or the series. This is where you’d put your description of the series so it’s much easier to read rather than making an entire page about it. Kids and teens like simple reading, especially when it comes to a synopsis.
Follow Me: What better than buttons you can use to link directly to your website or social media? This section should be easy to access and should stand out rather than being absent on your page.
Mail: You should always include your business inquiry email just in case of potential publishers or even better, fan mail!
You should have your posts go backward to forward, meaning show your latest post first so if people are interested they can simply go into the archive to read it from the start. Unless there are spoilers. Never, ever, give away spoilers.
If you’re interested in starting your own web-series be sure to let us know! We’d love to check it out. We’re big fans of new forms of literacy, especially when kids and teens create it. So whisk those magic wands out and start creating something magical!