DISCUSSION : A Stories' First-3 Episodes

I want to join in on a conversation that walks about the ‘first three episodes’ of a story. Feel free to add questions, here are a few base questions.

  1. Do you consider the first three episodes a pilot?
  2. What is your expectation(s) for the first episode? Second? Third?
  3. Should a reader be impressed (and want to continue) by the 1st episode, or 3rd episode?
  4. What’s an overused way to start an episode, and how would you change it to make it more ‘unqiue’?
    4a. “I’m running late for school. It’s the first day” -> “It’s the last day of school, and I’m running late for a senior sunrise. BYE”
  1. I don’t consider the first three episodes a pilot. Maybe the first one, but I think it’s a turn off if it’s much longer than that. I would always like to quickly get into the story in order to get a feeling whether I find it interesting or not.

  2. I expect the first episode to briefly introduce me to some of the main characters. It’s okay for me to use part of the first episode on story- and character introductions. However, I expect there to be at least a little excitement and development that makes me want to read more. After the first episode, I expect deeper insight in the main characters’ lives and I definitely expect there to be some kind of dilemma that makes the story develop. I’d like for there to be some kind of bond between the reader and the characters within the first 1-3 episodes.

  3. A reader shouldn’t necessarily be impressed by the first episode, however I do think it’s hard to make readers stay if they have barely been impressed by the first three episodes.

  4. I find it overused to start the first episode with customization. I think it’s better if the story just starts and when we are being naturally introduced to a character that can be customized, put the customization there.
    Other than that, I haven’t really noticed many overused ways to start an episode.


Do you consider the first three episodes a pilot?

Short answer, no. Long answer… Depends on the atmosphere of the story. I read one where the first three episodes had the MC as a child and then it was a flash forward to the future where he was older for the remaining episodes, so I felt like that one could pass as calling them pilot episodes… But most times I feel like if you’re calling your first three episodes pilots, then they are probably short AF…

What is your expectation(s) for the first episode? Second? Third?

First episode should be introducing all main characters (I can’t stand having a love triangle being introduced in episode 18 if prior to that there’s only been the one love interest), setting the scene and I guess I should generally have an idea about where the plot could possibly go by the end of episode 1 too. I feel like there’s too many stories that spend the first episode focusing on MC going to school and gossiping with her friends that by the end of episode 1, I still don’t know what the point of the story is.

Episode 2 and 3 would depend on what happened in episode 1 and I’m far too lazy to write out multiple hypotheticals at this moment

Should a reader be impressed (and want to continue) by the 1st episode, or 3rd episode?

Yes and yes. They should by the end of episode 1, and if they’re not but continue to read on anyway then they should definitely by episode 3. I can’t imagine too many people will say they aim to bore people by the end of episode 1 (or 3) :joy:

What’s an overused way to start an episode, and how would you change it to make it more ‘unqiue’?

  • Yeah, the running late thing is overdone… I think if you’re going to start like that, then you better characterize your MC to be late for everything so it’s more of a trait than a cheap way to start an episode.

  • Author notes are an overused way to start an episode! Make it more unique by deleting it or at least saving it until the end of episode 3.

  • I find CC is a very overused way to start an episode. I’m not a fan of having MC come out of the screen, and without knowing anything about him/her, I have to decide how they look? No thanks. It’s very refreshing to see it worked in to a story or into the plot… Like maybe when MC wakes up late, she could rush over to the mirror, say her her looks like crap and she needs to fix it up even though she’s already running super late, and then that’s acts as a path to introduce CC

  1. Not really. But the first few episodes are great to use to introduce all the important characters and show all the important backstory that the reader will need. But if a story’s introduction drags on too long without getting into it I will probably not keep reading.

  2. Introductions, some backstory. I also expect hooks to get me into the story and that makes me want to continue reading the next episode.

  3. They should be impressed and want to continue by the first episode. Or at the very least end the first episode with something that would make me want to read the second one. I really don’t like it when authors say that the story will get better after the first three episodes.

  4. Introducing all the characters on the screen before the story starts. Let me see them in the story instead. Or a really long author’s note…

  1. No, movies don’t have a pilot, neither should episode stories. Tv shows do, but it’s the first episode and action is still going on.

  2. First Episode I expect to meet all the main characters, and for the summary to kick in. Ideally end with a cliff hanger. Second episode I would want more developing… of characters (?) and the story start to really get going. By the third episode, I don’t want to feel lost. That will be a turn off for me.

  3. I should want to continue by the first episode. I do not like it when authors promise the story will get better, because maybe they should combine all those pilot episodes into one, and like actually get the story started.

  4. I apologize, but my mind is super in death right now. The overused beginning is the author walking up to stage, thanks the reader for reading their story, then dancing or something strange. — I would change this by having the author fall from above screen, fall below screen and blood splatter on the ‘reader’ then have a Narr box saying ‘The Author Apologies for not being available to thank you for reading her story’


Dark AF



1 Like
  1. Beginnings that bother you?

) Lately, I’ve been reading stories that really bother me because the first episode is in the past, but you don’t know that till the second episode. While this is perfectly fine most of the time, I would have rather jumped right into the action and had flash backs.

also bumo


le bump

  1. It depends on the length of the overall story, as well as what the author plans to do. The purpose of a pilot is to gauge audience interest in order to determine whether or not to continue a series beyond the beginning. In a short Episode story, there’s no point in making a pilot. For longer stories, it can be a pilot if the author intends for it to be. Even so, “it’s a pilot” shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor quality; if anything, pilot episodes should be of higher quality in order to grab readers’ attention.
  2. By the end of the first episode, I should have a solid idea of who the main characters are, what they want, and what’s going on. The main plot and conflict should be introduced and there should be some sort of action. The second and third depend again on the overall length of the story, but in general the action should build up over these episodes and character development should continue throughout.
  3. A reader should at least be interested by the first episode. It’s the first episode that determines whether or not a story is worth spending passes on, especially with how long we have to wait for them to recharge.
  4. I’m not a big fan of starting with CC either. I’ve done it before, sure, but I also dislike CC in general, so… :man_shrugging: If you can find a way to make it flow with the story, then it’s better. For example, one of my stories begins with choosing whether to customize or not + choosing a skin tone because it’s important for overlays, but then goes into a scene in first-person point of view. It’s a little further into the story when the main character looks in the mirror and you get to do the rest of the customization if you chose to do so. The name choice comes up when MC is asked who they are.
    Author’s notes are also a waste of time. Just don’t do it. Bring us right into the story and let it speak for itself.
    Definitely don’t do apologetic author’s notes. If you start a story by saying “I’m sorry the story/first episode isn’t very good…” then your readers are going in with the expectation that they won’t enjoy it, and that will taint their experience of your story. You’re literally priming people to dislike your story. Do your best and take pride in your work.
    Waking up on the first day at a new school or job is also overdone. Instead, try starting in the middle of an interesting conversation on the first day (if you need it to start on that specific day at all). Most people have relatively similar morning routines, but starting in the middle of something can actually tell us about the main character.