Serials on the Web: Basic Settings for WordPress

Last time I talked about the advantages and disadvantages of a blog versus an individual WordPress install as a platform for your web serial.

This time I’m focusing on the basic settings and plugins a web serial would need/want, with special discussion of a versus an individual WordPress install. Web serials have somewhat different needs from a normal blog.

If you’re planning on your own WordPress installation, this article assumes that either you or your web hosting has already set up your WordPress install.

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Both and Individual Installations

Basic Settings

Screenshot: Settings Link On the left-hand menu of the dashboard for your particular blog, there’s a link to basic settings. It’ll take you to the settings page, and also expand the sub-menu items for Settings.

Screenshot: Settings Sub-Menu You’re automatically put into General Settings first. On the side menu under Settings will now display various links to the settings pages, the most important of which we’ll discuss below individually.

From here, I’m going to focus on the necessary options, and leave the other options for you to play with.

Don’t forget to click the save button at the bottom of each settings page to save your settings.

General Settings

Important fields: Blog Title, Tagline, Language, Email address, and Time Zone.

Screenshots: General Settings

Reading Settings

Important fields: “For each article in a feed”

Screenshot: Reading Settings

This is the most important RSS feed setting, I think.

If you select “Full Text”, your readers can easily read your story in their RSS feed, and you can also add your blog to Amazon’s Kindle website for subscription via Kindle. However, this a) opens you up to people who scrape RSS content, which is bad enough for a blog, but in some ways I think is worse for a web serial, b) you’ll miss out on people visiting your site, which is where your extra menus and possible ads and possible donation buttons are, c) you’ll have less control over how your story is displayed for people who read via RSS feeds (doesn’t matter for 99% of serials).

If you select “Summary”, you may annoy people who read only through RSS, and you won’t be able to use Amazon’s Kindle subscriptions. However, you also avoid the disadvantages above.

When in doubt, go with Summary; you can change it later if you want to.

(And yes, I personally prefer full text for RSS feeds, and know plenty of other people do. But while it’s very reader-friendly, it’s less writer-friendly, and most readers will visit your site directly. Plus a Summary RSS feed will still provide direct links to your individual posts.)

Discussion Settings

Important fields: “Default article settings”

Screenshot: Discussion Settings

I’m going to go against popular wisdom for blogs again, and suggest you turn off commenting by default. Mostly because this avoids inadvertant spoilers and avoids needing to a) moderate people, and b) kick out spam.

If you still want to host discussion separately, you can create a special post that allows comments specifically, or you can use a forum of some sort.

Appearance Settings

This is a whole ‘nother section of your WordPress administration, and it’s the easiest and most fun to play with. Select a theme, and select and rearrange widgets with drag-and-drop, and so on. Some themes allow you to set a Customer Header, which also appears in the Appearance sub-menu if your theme happens to support it (some don’t).

Most themes have a sane set of default widgets, but I suggest that you have the following:

  • a Text widget, with a short blurb about your serial; it can accept arbitrary HTML, so you can include images and links. This is a good place to put a link to the very first entry of your serial so that people can follow happily along.
  • a Recent Posts widget, for that omnipresent access to your most recent post.
  • an Archives widget.
  • another Text widget, with Paypal donation/subscription links. Only

Removing Related Links From Posts

On, by default your posts will have an automatically generated section at the end with random “related” links that hit other blogs.

For web serials, this can be distracting. Really distracting. Turning this option off will lose you the possibility of getting your links randomly generated on other blog posts, but I think such links are terrible for a web serial anyways.

You can turn this off via a sub-section under Appearances, called “Extras”.

Screenshots: Appearance > Extras Settings