Value Added

Online stories offer a richer reading experience

Steve Fendt
5 min readJun 10, 2024
Digital manipulation of a photograph of pink gum blossom to look like a silk-screen print.
‘Gum Blossom’ by Steve Fendt

When I first wrote stories for online platforms — Medium, briefly Vocal, since 2022 mostly Substack — I regarded them as ‘practice’ for the real thing: formally published anthologies.

Since those early days, my approach has evolved.

The idea of publishing actual books of my novellas, novelettes and short stories still ghosts around, in my dreams or nightmares, but there are ways in which online publishing in instalments is a more complete creative experience.

The illustrated story

One big plus for me is the chance to illustrate my stories.

By that I don’t mean literal representations of the events or characters, or even the settings. If the story had to rely on that kind of visualisation, then I would have to wonder how good my storytelling was.

Neither do I mean a stock photo as a ‘hook’. I totally get why everyone does this. I do it too for my one-offs, but it’s not really where I’m at.

Instead, I use original artwork to capture the mood of a passage, or tease the reader with a visual reference which is tangential, maybe in some way a metaphor for the written content. The art is an integral part of the storytelling.



Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.