I just read the first episode and thought it was really good! Your directing and layering was great and helped immerse me in the story. I have a little bit of feedback:
Maybe you can try and make things a little more suspenseful off the bat to really hook your readers. I liked the content of the chapter, and I would use it all, but in a different order. I would probably have the episode open on Lalit’s friends making the bets on whether he would go through with the marriage, then pan to his mother saying to his father that he better not disgrace the family, then have him walk down the aisle and run out. From there, I would cut back to the start. This will not only get the readers immediately invested in the story, but also allow you to lay the groundwork for the situation, which brings me to my next point…
This story (or at least this part of the story) is about Indian culture and arranged marriages, correct? I love reading about non-American cultures - I am not an American, and actually typically steer clear of very Americanized stories because I have a deep dislike towards their national culture. Unfortunately, when it comes to media, the USA is the default. People from all over the world understand American culture because we see it constantly in movies, on TV, and yes, even in Episode. The same can’t be said for the rest of the world, and that includes India.
I think it would serve your story well to educate the reader more about the culture, what’s going on, why Lalit is being forced into a marriage he isn’t ready for, why his mother is so overbearing. All of this context will make international readers click more with your story, as well as teach them about cultures different from their own. Building this world around them also makes the characters and their struggles feel more real, as well as strengthening your plot.
I think this episode was a great start to your series, and I am definitely going to keep reading when I have some time. Some other reasons you may not be getting the reads you want are:
- The lack of Character Customization. I don’t care at all about CC, and I’ve found that most writers don’t either. But the community that strictly read stories and don’t create often do. I know Lalit is Indian, so you want him to actually match the culture he is from, but even adding Limited CC (ie. Not giving the readers the ability to change hair colour, skin tone, and eye colour, but giving them the chance to change his haircut, face shape, etc.) might help.
- Stories that have a Male MC do tend to get less reads as the community skews largely to teen girls.
- Stories in the drama category are harder to get trending, because there is so many drama stories.
- The fact that it isn’t finished yet. My first story hit 2K reads the day I published the final episode (#16), so that isn’t much more than you have now. Since I finished it, it now has 15,000+ reads. It’s sad to say and discouraging, but many people will only read read stories that are completed because they like to binge read.
All of these last points, though - is what makes your story unique. Having a male MC from a specific culture is part of what makes your story stand out from the thousands of mafia and bad boy stories. And I don’t think you should compromise these things, just to get trending. I think my best advice is that if you’re a small author on Episode - you should be writing for yourself, not the potential fame and not for the recognition. If you do that, I promise you’ll find success.