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Subtrope of Web Original and the prose equivalent of Web Comics such as Sluggy Freelance or Girl Genius (among many others) which happen to have distinct Story Arcs. An author, usually an amateur, publishes a Novel in many short installments (often daily or weekly) on a website.

Quite often, the work in question is some sort of Fanfic, but sometimes they are completely original works. Most long-form Fanfic is posted on places like in installments, and thus would qualify as this trope.

Spiritual Ancestors of this trope are the serialized novels which Charles Dickens' (and many other authors of that time) originally published in serial form in newspapers and in Dime Novel form.

See Web Fiction Guide for an incomplete listing of serial novels, among other forms of online prose fiction.

Examples of Web Serial Novel include:
  • Above Ground is a post-apocalyptic Dark Fantasy where humans live underground and the infected live above ground. The story follows the adventures of the human girl Lilith, who is trapped upon the surface alongside werewolves, witches, and the like.
  • Addergoole
  • The Adventures of Fox Tayle is about a regular fox made to be a soldier, but then the government project is cancelled. Fox escapes being killed and is hunted by the FBI for the majority of the story. First published on deviantART.
  • The Adventures of Pat O Neil is a self-narrative of the life of Pat O'Neil, a "regular guy from Iowa" that somehow ended up battling the forces of Clan Platypus, a organization of ninjas trying to take over the world universe by selling meth.
  • Aivoton Aikamatka
  • Anachronauts is a web novel series in which multiple realities converge onto a single planet, and all the consequences that ensue because of it. Thus, its tagline: "a web novel series of broomsticks, semiautomatics, and jetpacks."
  • Angry Remembrance is a Coming of Age story with an Urban Fantasy bent. Brian Cargill learns that the father he thought walked out on his family actually died a hero--fighting an ancient battle between two warring factions of shapeshifters who call upon the powers of legendary heroes and their nemeses.
  • The Antithesis revolves around the conflicts of a uniquely-perceived Heaven and Hell, narrated by the main character, Alezair Czynri, who is a member of the "Jury", a sect of non-Celestials who live in Purgatory and enforce "The Code".
  • Arcana Magi is a young adult fantasy universe written by H-M Brown. It features a Web Serial Novel of the main series about a teenage girl, who received a mystical item from one of The Four Gods, and was captured and brainwashed by an Evil Company to serve their needs. He also wrote Arcana Magi Zero, an Alternate Universe Short Story Trilogy about the beginnings of two teenaged girls, who received their magical items from The Four Gods, and try to understand their place in the world.
  • Associated Space, an often hilarious science fiction story written by a friend [dead link] of a troper.
  • Becoming a Better Writer, a group of books written by an amateur New Zealand author and serialised on his website. So far involves Demon Hunting and Werewolf Law.
  • Though the results aren't nearly long enough to be considered "novels", Bionicle includes web serials as part of their canon. They supplement the books and comics in that they can focus on and flesh out side characters - including the villains - or continue to tell adventures of those whose toys are no longer on the market.
    • The final novel of the series was only available to read on-line (in English, at least... some European countries printed it into an actual book), so there's that for a novel-length serial.
  • Building Tales is a set of serialised short stories, novellas and, apparently, will contain novels in the future. It is written by the artist of The Life of Nob T Mouse and All Over the House.
  • Chaos Fighters, a serial novel series with extreme amounts of fighting scenes.
  • Chakona Space: A Web Original Shared Universe Furry setting, based on a Web Serial Novel, "Forest Tales", by Bernard Doove, (available here (NSFW)) that started as a Star Trek Fanfic and became its own series. "Forest Tales" was the first series in the setting, but others have been written, by Doove and an army of Chakat fans. Some of these fans are better writers than others.
  • Cirno and Purple Steve is the story of Cirno Excalibur, who found a pole in his back yard, got struck by weird lightning, and went with his new talking pole to go fight the demons. It's an experimental adventure story published weekly.
  • Colorshock is a tale of two cities. One is an unmappable, black and white maze called the city of all cities where street addresses are replaced with dates that mysteriously stop right before the millennium and musicians play the only color in the world into existence. The other is a high-tech metropolis where three teenage gangs (the Reds, the Blues, and the Greens) fight with colored solid light they can throw from their fingertips. In both cities, a mysterious force seeks to blot out all the color in the world forever. Here's the link, till I get around to making a page.
  • The Countryship Yoors follows the adventures of an oddly Genre Savvy protagonist who, without explanation, ended up in space, aboard a ship the size of a country.
  • DarkWatch follows a team of agents who protect the world from supernatural threats. Relatively new, but updated frequently.
  • Decembersville tells the tale of a young girl who is sucked into a world of freaks, murder, and mystery.
  • The Descendants is a Superhero story formatted in such a way that it's a comic book without pictures.
  • Deucalion Chronicles is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink Space Opera, with time travelers, mages, androids, werewolves and more all rubbing elbows and often as not beating the crap out of one another.
  • Dimension Heroes, a web novel series skewed towards a younger demographic featuring five teens who discover futuristic battle suits and are subsequently thrust into an adventure in which they must save their world from colliding with a parallel dimension.
  • Similarly, The Dionaea House, which was told in segments appearing on different websites, every October for three years.
  • Domina is a series about the titular city, which has evolved a unique culture based around Bio Augmentation. Also, it is written by a troper.
  • The Dragon Wars Saga is a young adult fantasy serial in which four British teenagers are dragged into another world to become warriors and save said world from disaster.
  • The Ed stories, a series of short stories about a Mad Scientist Slacker college student who does everything from teleporting the Sun to sending the entire Earth backwards in time.
  • Elcenia is the High Fantasy / Slice of Life story of half-elven mage Rhysel, who has been summoned from one superficially Standard Fantasy Setting to another and is stranded there. Despite superficial similarities the two worlds are at least as different from each other as either is from Earth.
  • Fartago, a serialized blog novel by author Tony Caroselli about the adventures of a tribe of cavemen who have found a monolith similar to the one from the opening chapters/scenes of the book/movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not fanfic as Caroselli has said the cavemen are not the same ones seen in the book and movie (the lead one of whom is named "Moon-Watcher" in the book, a name not seen in the blog novel). Indeed, Fartago takes place at least 1 million years after the opening chapters of the book 2001, the tribe in Fartago is apparently much larger and better organized than the one in 2001, and Caroselli has said the monolith has not been created by the same race and not for the same purpose. Caroselli insists the premise is an homage, not fanfic.
  • The Finite Life of a Dating Sim Heroine, is an Gender Bender story about a boy who gets sent into a Dating Sim and forced into the body of the game's heroine.
  • First: Do No Harm is a Web Serial Novel by Insanity Lord (Justin J. on Fictionpress). It follows the life of Chastity 'Vanilla' Jackson, a doctor and scientist in the 22nd Century, and the lives of her family and those close to her.
  • The Flying Cloud, an alternate universe where World War 1 ended early and airships rule the skies.
  • The Galactic Series is a Space Opera short-story series set in a pair of colliding galaxies. Whilst very human issues of war, politics and culture arise, humans themselves are oddly absent, barring the occasional mysterious occurrences of time travel and their parting gift of "the human database".
  • Grandmaster of Theft is an Action Thriller/Mystery which features multiple volumes of story lines and overarching story starring 1st person Classy Cat Burglar Cassidy Cain.
  • Guns, Swords and Steam
  • Guts and Sass: An Anti Epic deconstructs many popular fantasy tropes, providing both parody and a serious exploration of being zapped to a Magical Land with feudal agriculturalist monarchy, semi-domesticated pastoralist, Proud Warrior Races, and hunter-gatherers.
  • Hackett is a serial novel that details the adventures of an interdimensional taskforce that works for (and with) the titular Hackett.
  • Ilivais X can be summed up as the tribulations of a slightly psychotic young woman and her Humongous Mecha, the titular Ilivais X.
  • The Impossible Man is a comedy web novel also written by H-M Brown, about an Anime and Manga Store owner and the random antics he gets into.
  • Interviewing Leather is a short story about a freelance writer for a music magazine who is sent to interview a supervillain.
  • John Dies at the End got started as a bunch of self-proclaimed "retarded horror stories" written as Halloween specials. However, it was taken offline when it was published in book form.
  • Kindness from Strangers by Leradny; a series of generally unrelated short stories with five common themes.
  • The Kingdoms of Evil, in which an Ordinary High School Student finds out he's the Big Bad of a Crapsack World. Hilarity and Belligerent Sexual Tension ensue.
  • Kira Is Justice is partially this, except the author is bad at updating in a frequent basis.
  • Last Mage is an Urban Fantasy story about Elijah Valentine's struggle to protect the Earth from forces Humans cannot comprehend.
  • The Last Skull is a comic-book-inspired series featuring "teenaged superheroism, explosions and time-travel".
  • Legion of Nothing is a web novel about the descendants of Golden Age superheroes who inherit their grandparents' powers and take on their costumed identities.
  • Lovers and Beloveds is a story following the young Prince Temmin as he leaves his childhood home for the courtly intrigues of the capital city. It started as the web serial An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom. The serial drew significant crowdfunding from the readership, and has been edited and published in paperback. It is Meilin Miranda's first novel.
  • Mabaka - Magic is for Idiots! follows the story of an amateur wizard who falls through a black hole-like transportation system, and winds up crashing into a girl's yard in the first dimension - Earth. Thing is, he's not strong enough to get back by himself, and that transport system only comes around once a year... Let's just say that he and the human girl end up living together for a while. Updates are freqeunt, but not following any kind of schedule. Found on FictionPress.
  • Magical Security Taskforce follows a group of high schoolers drafted into the titular peacekeeping organization. Written by Adam Pulver, also known for his anime/reality show spoofs and various Digimon fics, including the already-recced-on-this-site The Connection.
  • Many Words, extremely irregularly-updated, featuring an unfinished fantasy tale and a nearly-finished hard science fiction story of naval war in space.
  • Metamor City takes place in the same world, and features short stories (and so far one novel, "Making the Cut") in its podcast tales.
  • Memetic Narration is a recently started serial involving a third-person omniscient narrator that the main character hears in his head and internet memes that come to life in darker and edgier forms to cause trouble (Pedobear causing the rape and murder of a little girl, for instance).
  • Mirrorfall - a geeky urban fantasy series whose Playful Hacker main character who is more likely to sneak off and look at Tropes than do her Men in Black paperwork.
  • My Little Pony Chronicles is this. It updates somewhat sporadically. Is essentially an Adaptation Expansion of the 80s My Little Pony cartoons.
  • The Mystery Sphere - a strange but interesting story about a pirate accused of the theft of a nobleman's dragon.
  • Oktober is an interesting web novel. It's updated weekly on Fridays, hasn't missed an update yet. Each chapter is told four different times, once from each character's perspective. It follows the adventures of a journalist, a rockstar, a hunter, and an assassin as they drive across the US, and has a feel of an American road novel mixed with House of Leaves.
  • Paladin Academy - A Dungeons & Dragons inspired story on the Giant In The Playground forums.
  • Patchwork Champions, a Superhero story, was a webcomic for two and a half years, and continues to this day as one of these.
  • Pay Me, Bug! - The Caper in space. "...featuring cunning smugglers, star-spanning empires, cheerful amorality, evil cyborg slavers, and a hyperintelligent bug."
  • The Philosophical Significance of Soda Bubbles is a web novel which begins as a coming of age story and before Deus Ex Machina-ing into a science fiction satire on philosophy, revolving around a group of immortals confused by whether they are gods or scientific flukes, searching dysfunctionally for a messiah.
  • Playing For Keeps was also a podcast novel/comic book before getting published.
  • The Private Diary of Elizabeth Quatermain was essentially this, when taken in its entirety; the five-part series rang in at a grand total of close to 200,000 words written over a span of four years.
  • Raya! is a Magical Girl Warrior novel.
  • Registry of Time is a series of sci-fi stories set in The Future, exploring the various cultures and technology the universe has to offer.
  • Sacreyas Legacy is a completed web serial about a zombie private detective whose case forces him to return to the doomed city he came from.
  • The Saga of Tuck has been running since 1997, and currently comprises 142 chapters and a bit more than a year of in-story time, not to mention an Alternate Universe side story.
  • Sapphire in Two Words: Espionage Fantasy.
  • Silicon Wolfpack is an Urban Fantasy story about a werewolf, a Nice Guy, and a Grey Hat Hacker being chased by Mooks and The Hunter. Can be found here.
  • The Slave Breakers is a long running series of erotica novels and stories about a dysfunctional family that trains and sells slaves in a world where slavery is an acceptable means to control poverty. Despite the premise, it's very fluffy for its genre. Can be found here.
  • Small Problem is a blog written by a woman six and a half inches tall.
  • SPARK of Tyranny is a Space Opera with an Anti-Hero Type II/Type III Captain and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, struggling against the behind the scenes machinations of the Kilon Federation, which has created a Vichy Earth.
  • Stone Soul is a high fantasy serial written similarly to the print fantasy serials of yesteryear.
  • Summer Camp is a series of very long novel-length erotica/ComingOfAge stories, initially set at a nudist camp. The story is compelling enough that during my Archive Binge, I ended up skipping most of the sex scenes, or at least just skimming them quickly to check for plot points.
  • Super Stories is a new series about superpowered people trying to leave their mark on the world.
  • Tales of MU.
  • Tasakeru, a serial novel series using warring humanoid animals as allegories for human conflicts. It's described as "Redwall for teens and young adults."
  • Tales of the Big Bad Wolf is an example of a Fairy Tale and Fantasy trope mixed together using the Red Riding Hood story as the entryway into a larger number of other stories here.
  • Tech Infantry, an earlier project involving the author of Associated Space, a collaborative series of stories by multiple authors set in a future world that combines elements of the Old World of Darkness and Starship Troopers.
  • Ted's Caving Page was presented as a spelunker's series of journal entries revolving around a mysterious cave and a creature inside (the actual cave being "Freeway Cave," as the author originally discusses here and is reposted here. The original story is intentionally left unfinished, leaving the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. The story was later used for Thomas Lera's short story "The Fear of Darkness", a backdated hoax that attempts to explain all of the supernatural elements of Ted's story with an added chapter.
  • Three to One Ratio by Half Demon Cali, a supernatural genre written-out graphic novel about a ghost who is given six months to survive on Earth while wearing a human skin and living with a Tsundere martial arts girl.
  • Three Worlds Collide by Eliezer Yudkowsky, a science-fiction First Contact story concerning the ethics of deals with aliens of very different morality.
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams and Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light are both based on comic book characters, but since the author is so bad at drawing that he makes Christian Weston Chandler look like Leonardo da Vinci, they're in prose serial format instead.
  • Unlikely Eden is a weekly updated Web serial told from the alternating points of view of two 10-year-old girls. The story begins with the destruction of the girls' home which forces them to escape into the surrounding area. They immediately run afoul of the residents of a small outpost and through fortunate coincidence, they encounter a crotchety old trucker and his teenage ward, who become their only friends besides each other. Throughout the course of the story, they gradually begin to learn the complicated sequence of events that led to the destruction of their home. From prophecies to roller skates to robot teddy bears, there's never a dull moment.
  • Wingspan: based on the Chaotic Good angels fall theme with a twist; did you know the Christian idea of redemption had Power Perversion Potential?
  • The longer Whateley Universe stories would qualify if anyone cared to run them through a word counter. At the least, they are web serial novellas. In a sense, the stories make up a single, multi-author work with many stories covering the same events from different points of view. It is infamous for being EntryPimped and Trope Overdosed to toxic levels.
    • "Ayla and the Tests" is longer than six of the seven Harry Potter novels. And is largely responsible for The Rashomon effect, since it basically retconned or explained several events where Ayla appeared to be 'out of character' or missing from the action.
  • Worm is a web novel about a girl with superpowers that let her control bugs.
  • Fanfic author Copperbadge publishes original work here, and to date has two complete novels and is working on a third. Interestingly, he asks readers to comment on any mistakes and to raise questions about the work, which he considers during his revisions.
  • Podiobooks is a treasure trove for this kind of novel.
  • The Chakona Space setting started out as a web serial novel called "Forest Tales".
  • Based on The Fear Mythos is OH GOD THE RAPTURE IS BURNING, a four-act epic that blends prose with a stream-of-consciousness journal style making it seem more like Twitter. It's an Alternate History tale of Rapture actually coming on October 21st, 2011.
  • Night Hunters. Uploaded on Deviant ART and updated regularly(shly). It is quite new, but has some potential. Admittedly it does touch on a lot of cliches, but to be honest: What doesn't? Has some potential and hopefully the author will see it through to the end.