Web novels, these digital novels that shake Asia

(ETX Daily Up) – In China, novels are not read through pages but on the Internet. This digital format, known as “web novels”, has already won over millions of readers and is now seeking to conquer the West. Deciphered.

It will take some time for European readers to try their hand at e-books, these digital books that you will devour by “moving around” in an e-reader. The Chinese have long been accustomed to reading works of fiction on their smartphones or computers. They are especially fond of web novels, these novels specially designed to be read on a screen.

In China, this craze for digital novels dates back to the birth of the Internet, with the advent of cyberliterature. Web novels are distinguished from their paper cousins ​​by their great formal freedom. Each author is free to construct his story over hundreds, sometimes even thousands of chapters.

A novel of 1118 chapters

This is the peculiarity of web novels: these works of fiction are freed from traditional narrative patterns to better meet the expectations of readers. The psychology of the characters takes precedence over the development and even the coherence of the plot. That’s why most web novels belong to popular genres, popular among young people, such as romance, fantasy, “youth,” and science fiction.

We can cite as an example “Nightfall” (“Jiang Ye” in the original version) by Mao Ni. This web novel follows the adventures of Ning Que, a young man with extraordinary abilities who survived the massacre of his family during the Tang era. A story that the Chinese author has developed in 1118 chapters. Despite its extreme length, this web novel has found its audience and has even been adapted for the small screen.

Many film studios are turning to web novels to produce new TV series, as they have done for years with fan fiction and, more recently, webtoons. “Love in the Moonlight” and “The First Shop of Coffee Prince,” both available on Netflix, are taken from South Korean digital novels.

Heading west

The success of web novels paradoxically revives an old tradition: that of serial novels published periodically in 19th and 20th century newspapers. If since then this format has fallen into oblivion in Europe, its new digital incarnation is making more people happy in China, but also in Japan and South Korea.

Many platforms such as Webnovel, Joara and Naver are investing in this booming market, estimated at around 60 million euros (80 billion South Korean won) in South Korea according to the local newspaper Pressian. South Korean web giant Naver has recently partnered with Munpia, a big name in web novels, to encourage amateur writers to get their best pen … digitally. They are about to launch a big contest in the country of K-pop to find the web novels that will follow in the footsteps of “Nightfall” or “Nirvana in Fire”, with, at the end of the day, a reward of one. one billion South Korean won (about 750,000 euros).

While web novels are consolidating their status in Asia, they are now trying to infiltrate the Western market. The Webnovel platform has seen a growing interest in these digital fictions in China, but also beyond the borders of the Middle Kingdom. According to the Global Times, its catalog had 370,000 foreign web novels last December, and it is a safe bet that this figure will only increase in the coming months. Webnovel does it, in any case, all for. The platform launched its first writing contest last March for American authors who want to try cyberliterature. At the time, they could earn $ 20,000 and a chance to see the cover of their novel on display in New York’s Times Square. Enough to awaken vocations.

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