Episode's 2017 Diversity Standards


#422

Thank you for your advice.


#423

Don’t worry it’s fine I just think it’s sad to think like that and be afraid of writing diversity so much that you want to protect people for their right to not be able to do it. I think it’s really brave of you btw and I get it. But it’s not about forcing diversity it really isn’t it’s just about trying to make people see and think in a mindset that’ll be larger.
If you incluse diversity in your story well for starter it’ll be more realistic but for you there’ll also be a lot more possibilities to play with and if you at some point don’t try to get out there and try new things because you’re so afraid of messing up it’ll leave you stuck in only one direction and that’s bad for you. Because there’s also a huge range of things you can do with sttaight white cis Christian character for exemple with an older woman or someone adopted in search of their birth family.
But sadly you won’t necessarely try these things either because you’re still in that mindset xhere you wznt to stick with what you know. The point of everyone is to try to raise people into changing that mindset we don’t want to impose it to them.

That’s why we want Episode to make these changing because if episode is showing story with diversity the people who read them and the future writers will see they have the right to write diversity too and that the world of writing (and in general) has a lot of different things to explore.


#424

Thank you for making these points, and I’ll definitely put them into a mindset.
Well, I’m sorry for the comments I made earlier and I was just worried about being attacked for not understanding a particular person’s situation.
Again, thank you for taking your time to write these replies.
Have a good day. :hugs:


#425

Not to worry. You’re actually extremely polite and nice and that’s really awesome :grin:
Sadly if you’re a writer and if you put something public there’s a high chance you could get backlash or mean comments that happens. Some people are really rude. But most of the time people will be comprehensive and maybe they’ll just try to give you advises or correct you if you’re wrong at some point without trying to attack you.
It’s okay to be scared about these type of things who isn’t really ? But try to start really small maybe just someone who fell accidentally into the stairs at some point and has to walk in crutches for like two weeks. That’s something that will probably be easy enough to portrayed. Kinda everyone had to walk in some crutches at some point or at least hurt their ankles enough to not be able to walk probably for a short amount of time.
That’s an example obviously you do what you want but if you want to write about diversity and is afraid of backlash I think if you start by something that is small and mostly temporary it’ll be easy enough to do and doesn’t have much risks of offending anyone.
Have a good day :hugs:


#426

I want to say couple of things about featured stories and their diversity.

Episode definitely blew up with Mean Girls and Demi Lovato series. (Thats how most of us found the app too right?) The reason people were interested in these stories was because they were playing as their own character and had the chance to make their own choices.
One of the reasons that they can’t have a no cc story is that, they always adversite as “Play as yourself and make your own choices!” (we can see it in the description of Love Life as well) This brings many problems with both race and personality topics.

Episode always has the same type of character in their stories. The MC is always shy, bullied, only has one friend if the friends a male, he’s gay, if friends female, she keeps talking about boys 24/7 (this brings problems too, please fix this in your next stories.) so, can we really say that we are making the choices? Can we really say that we are playing as ourselves? What if I’m a super confident person that everyone is afraid to bully? What if I’m a really manipulative person? Would I be shy or bullied to begin with? What if I’m not interested in dating? You get the point. The character that looks like us does not represent us at all.

Some people have stories with over 70 million, this means 70 million people used this app. Is it really right to categorize people by just one personality?

What I mean is, we really don’t “play as ourselves” when we CC. So, why a story with a non cc mc, (POC in this case, especially dark skinned poc) would be a problem for you? Episode isnt the only one to blame. A lot of people in this community think that they won’t be able to “relate” to the MC if s/he doesn’t look like themselves. This is something about psychology+ignorance, and it is also very common in Hollywood, so won’t be talking about this here

In the end, this is just an app. But this is an app that they claim, they are diverse. So there’s nothing wrong with asking Episode diversity. Hell, it shouldn’t even be asked in the first place since they are claming diversity.

But it’s different for community authors. Thats a whole another topic :sleeping:


#427

OOOOO SIS! :ok_hand:t5: :raised_hands:t5:


#428

sister snapped :exploding_head:


#429

Yes girl! :clap:t3:


#430

Writing LGBTQ characters is not difficult if you do your research… I mean, we’re all more similar than we are different, really. That’s the beauty of humanity: we can live pretty harmoniously if we focus on the fact that we’re all humans.

But saying that, research is key. That’s why I’m holding out when it comes to writing a transgender MC until I can sit down with a few people who are trans and ask them all the questions I need to. I find it easier writing trans friends at the moment because I HAVE trans friends, haha.

I guess what I’m saying is it’s not that difficult to write diverse side characters if you’re surrounded by diversity. I mean, your side character isn’t going to get the same inner development as the MC. However, to get an MC right, you need to be able to understand a lot more.


#431

I love seeing well-written transgender MCs. They’re so rare, though. Don’t hesitate to DM me with any questions you have, though (but also acknowledge that every trans person has a different story, so it will be good to get multiple perspectives).


#432

This sounds awesome!


#433

Eh, ever since this post has been created I’ve been stalking it obsessively while patiently waiting for these exciting new ‘diverse’ stories Episode has been supposedly working on to come out. I really had to refrain myself from commenting so many times mainly because I always find it hard to share my thoughts publicly without offending anyone or I’ll just feel dumb cause there are a shit ton of intelligent people in this community making all these great points and I’ll just end up agreeing and not saying anything lol.

Anyway, I kind of just want to share my thoughts, analysis and experiences about this whole topic ever since I’ve been using the app (and that’s a long ass time). It’ll be a bit of a sappy personal post addressing some things about my own story too as I saw it mentioned several times in this thread. In no way is this like a ‘negative response’ or whatever. I just think it serves a good example.

I’d like to start off from the very start, which is at the same time where it all began for me. In late 2013 which is when Episode first launched their app, the writer portal was obviously very primitive and the community was super tiny. There was no Trending Section and in order to get your story visibly on the app for all users to see, you’d have to get your story featured (which included a whole process of getting it officially reviewed, receiving feedback from Episode themselves over email etc and they were very picky obviously on what stories to feature). The app was pretty diverse when it first started, featuring stories of a variety of genres like fantasy, adventure, drama, thriller & action and it was just awesome.

Then, the time finally came when I first started writing my own story. I’d like to quickly add that I was, like what, 13/14 years old? Fresh in high school and had very few knowledge about the world as I was literally a fetus. Another fun fact is that I’m Asian, however born and raised in Europe. When it came to culture, I never really felt like I had one of them. It was hard for me to identify myself (too Asian to be white, too foreign in Asia sort of thing) so my cultural knowledge was small back then. America was ‘new’ to me entirely, but most stories seemed to be set in that part of the world (besides the occasional local books I had to read for school assignments of course) so I more or less just wrote about the same repetitive cultures I read about in other stories. This lack of knowledge clearly showed in my own story, and again, I’m just bringing up my story because it still gets mentioned everywhere up till this day (not mad, just saying).

My point: the reason why a lot of stories on the app aren’t diverse isn’t because we don’t want to, but because some of us haven’t reached a point in our life yet where we’re educated enough (for the record, I have now. this was just a reference/example to a lot of young writers/readers on this app). Episode is an app targeting a more younger audience, generally speaking, so instead of focusing on pointing out everything that is wrong with someone’s story, we should focus on educating each other. Just putting this out here because there’s a lot of negativity and bashing when it comes to sensitive topics like diversity.

a lil backstory…
I started writing my story for fun - it was like a game to me. I had it be about high school + crushes, parties and a typical teenage MC. Did I know anything about professional storytelling? Heck no. Was my story purely created for entertainment with no solid or epic plot line, character development and the list goes on? Hell ya.

The story that I wrote is now very infamously known in the community as Tangled Love. Turned out, back in 2014 my story was somehow liked by a lot of people on the forums (which was your only source of readers back then). It was seen as ‘refreshing’ and ‘relatable’, something Episode didn’t have much of back then because the romance genre was far from their main focus, let alone teen fiction. I want to point out that my story was initially rejected to be featured, but after months of simply letting time pass by and me sharing my story on the forums, doing reads for reads (not for actual reads tho lol but simply because it was fun) with my online friends - Episode eventually reached out to me and asked if they could feature it.

It wasn’t the quality. It was the popularity.

Up until this day, although the story isn’t necessarily original (if it was ever lol fk you get the point) nor is it on the home page anymore (I think?) many people still know about it. Not for its quality, but because Episode has held onto it for so long. The reason is, I’m sure, because it did so well among its users. I can’t say this without cringing a bit but I’m gonna spit it out: I think it’s safe for me to say that they profited a lot from it, whether that be financially or promotionally. I think a lot of authors that we see these days ranking high in the Trending Section (romance category particularly) have one way or another, indirectly or not, found out why a story like mine is so likeable for the majority of the Episode readers. This includes all users of the app, not just the active ones or ‘forumers’. Hence, you see those stories flock like 80% of the app and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the writers do it for the money and fifteen minutes of fame only.

ANYWAY HOW ALL THIS CRAP LINKS BACK TO THE RELEVANCE OF THIS TOPIC…
is that I hope that it gives you a little bit of an insight on how Episode works. Sure, many people have already mentioned how Episode is a business at the end of the day and needs to make money - duh. But it’s not just that. It’s also that so many users are simply asking if not demanding for it that they simply can’t turn their backs on those requests. It’s the type of content the users want, and that’s why Episode has taken such a drastic turn since and started focusing on the type of stories that just do well. It’s what sells, and it’s of course what every company selling whatever product does.

HOWEVER by no means am I done yet. This was just an introduction to my point. Apologies for the irrelevant background info. I talk a lot, I’m sorry. Let’s just get straight to the point. I’ve jotted all remaining things I wanted to say below:

  • For one, Episode definitely needs to expand their range of featured stories. Like back in the days, they should feature stories from all genres. The majority can be romance, there’s no changing that in the way current things stand. It simply gets the most reads and it’s not because they promote it so much - the other way around even. They promote is so much because it simply does well. But still, why is romance the only one? Just no. Quick thought, it’s not even romance - more like teen fiction. hint hint new category? on a side note tho: the weekly or monthly featured shelves have been a huge step in the right direction. let’s keep hoping for more!
  • I’ve learned many things the hard way, and now that I’m at a point in my life where I understand most common issues I was told to neglect when I was younger - I realize the value of the journey of a story like Tangled Love and how it puts things into perspective. It was a flawed product but it sold. Therefore, products like that will never be erased. In everyday life not, and on Episode not. I see the most cliche stories having over a million reads, written by someone probably not older than 15 and then I read a completely enthralling story with just over a few K reads. The same way we have Musically kids become super famous in 2 days and then we have that one person out there with a golden voice who receives nowhere near that much recognition in all the years he or she has followed classes etc because of so and so. It’s sad, but it’s a sort of mechanism that will never go away. I know we all want it. It just all seems unfair and so easy to solve, but it’s not.
  • When it comes to diversity though, someone already pointed out that everyone sort of has a different view on what they expect from it. For most, diversity is as simple as seeing everyone as equal - or different in a good way, that we all shine in our own ways. But then there’s the problem of seeing everyone as equal, but not being actually inclusive in a sense. Or the lack of knowledge about other people’s cultures or sexuality if you count those in too and how it results in stereotyping and offensive portrayal of it. The list could go on and on. Personally, I feel like we shouldn’t put so much emphasis on diversity and put it in the context of it being a whole special kind of thing, but rather try to be as inclusive as possible and in this way ensure that ‘equality’ results in ‘inclusivity’ so that it becomes a natural habit to create a black character with the possible personality traits of any other white character out there. But then again, diversity has grown into this very term because it’s a real burning issue in society and it would feel bad to not put as much emphasis on the word and meaning behind it itself? I guess the first is an ideal, and the latter is reality. I’m struggling with this one myself. It’s hard as there are so many different views and opinions on this, its usage and solutions.
  • I know that my fetus-self wasn’t the greatest when it came to diversity. In Tangled Love, I guess the characters look sorta different-ish? I created some characters with the intent of them to be Asian-American, for example. But then I never brought forward their ethnicity or parts of their culture, not in a single dialogue. Characters were mostly one-dimensional and it’s one of the many things I’ve worked the hardest on to improve. You don’t need to tell their whole family history or give them a tour through China, but little things like cultural dishes that the characters get served for dinner at home (based on their ethnicity of course) will go a long way.

idk what the point of this post was i just typed it all out and it’ll probably be removed by tomorrow lol peace.


Experiment: Do the forums have enough power to influence the trending section?
#434

I just want to say this post sent me on a huge nostalgia trip :joy: Made me want to look up old stories like “The Bet”, “The Dare”, and “Dripping Mascara” which were all popular when I joined the app.


#435

@Mei, I was not going to contribute any longer to this thread, but, wow, I honestly have so much respect for you since you wrote such a long post. Your work for writing this is appreciated, and I now understand more about why featured stories are featured and points of views. :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:


#436

Aw, thank you so much!! Your hours spent into sharing your knowledge and viewpoints on this thread are definitely being appreciated up till this day too (learned so much honestly). Again, thank you!! Didn’t expect such a positive response :heart_eyes:


#437

Haunted: Shroud


#438

Oh my god don’t start about Dripping Mascara that story is a legendary piece of pure art. But yeah I feel you!! So many OG stories it’s funny to think back about those times… :rofl:

I vaguely remember an Amber from the old forums, could it be you?? When did you join Episode? :thinking: not trying to sound creepy heheh.


#439

I never actually read Dripping Mascara when I joined, but I frickin loved The Bet and it’s sequel. I want to read it now though! It’s been on my list for a while.

I doubt I’m that Amber :joy: I never used that name on the old forums, but I don’t the exact year I joined, just sometime right be INK was released.


#440

Really? I’m gonna check it out!


#442

Waiting for Episode’s diversity “standards” like

a57