Tara explains: the things that no one tells you about being an Episode writer

Hi everyone! Me again!

Just a quick note, that for those who don’t know me, I’m a writer on Episode and have two published stories (The Amazing Life Of Cecilia and The Blazing Sky), and I also write articles on the Forums, and am the creator of an Episode story planner that can be found on Episode Life (or through my IG links).

Now, this is a bit different from my usual writing/directing help articles, but is instead a practical look at the things about writing on Episode, that you might not have thought about. This is less of an exposé about Episode, but more about interesting things you might not have considered, that are worth thinking about before writing your first or writing a new story.

Just a quick reminder that, if you want to talk about anything mentioned in this article, or want to get in touch for any other reason, I’m @tarastarofficial on the Forums and if you search “Tara explains” on the Forums or click on my profile, you can find lots of other useful articles that I’ve written.

Anyway, let’s get straight to it…

1. The pressure of updates
People probably do tell you about the pressure of updates - but still, that doesn’t compare to actually experiencing it. I’m very lucky that I’m surrounded by positive and supportive people in the community, so I actually don’t experience this pressure too much to the point I’ve been overwhelmed, but I’ve spoken to and seen lots of people who have been. Episode is not a full time job (at least for most of us), but it really can feel like it… it can be difficult trying to find the balance between writing for yourself (i.e. writing what you want, when you want) and writing for your readers (i.e. writing to help readers discover a new world, and writing to satisfy their demands, both regarding the content and the updating schedule of your story).

I’m not going to talk about it too much, but I just think, something no one really tells you is that it can be tough, and you have to be prepared to deal with it as graciously as you can, without feeling guilty. Updating sporadically can make authors feel so guilty; but you have to remember that, if you decide to write on episode, you have to focus on your real world to Episode balance. Prepare to get questions about updates, and try and have a plan. Something I think is worth considering for new authors, is that you might like to write e.g. 10 episodes, but only publish 3. Then you can have a weekly schedule of e.g. publishing a chapter each week, and you can aim to write a new chapter each week, but then you’ll have “spare” episodes unpublished (i.e. you’ll maybe publish 4 but be writing 11) so that if you can’t write for whatever reason, or go on holiday, you can still update regularly.

Regarding pressure of updates, it’s also worth mentioning that when you’re an Episode author, you seem to have literally no time, and making update schedules on time and staying on track of deadlines (both real life ones and Episode ones) can be tough. My advice for this is prioritise, and try to stay on top of things. But, being a writer will definitely help you to develop great time management skills!

2. The emphasis on directing
Back when I first began writing on Episode, things like the web previewer and custom overlays didn’t exist. Now, as Episode keeps growing, new features are constantly added and as a result, stories being published nowadays have phenomenal directing! This is not a bad thing, as it does challenge authors to be creative, and of course, Episode is a visual storytelling platform, so it is expected that authors are happy to direct. But, bear in mind, it does mean that you’ll spend less time than you might think actually writing, and more time on directing and branching/choices.

3. Becoming a ‘popular’ writer takes time, practice, and more than just writing well
You might expect that if you spend absolutely ages on a story - and you put your heart and soul into it, going above and beyond with the narration, dialogue, description, characters, add lots of imaginative directing, lots of complex branching and choices… you’ll eventually get noticed and get 1000s of reads quite quickly. The reality of episode can be less glamorous; lots of things will surprise you. Your most well written, best directed story might not become your most read story. And, crucially, the thing is that becoming a popular author can take years. It can be easy to think that one amazing story will get you to the top - but in earnest, trying to raise your profile on Episode takes time and is about so much more than one great story. You have to write a lot and this is really the only way you’ll improve. It’s also so important - and this is what many do not realise - to connect and listen to your readers, and engage with them. You don’t have to do what they say, but you should be open minded about listening to their suggestions when they’re being polite. Becoming famous has a lot to do with the writing - but also how an author interacts and gives back to the community. The best way to get the most from community is to not write for fame, but write for yourself (because you love the craft of writing!), and also, don’t be afraid to interact with other Episodians, make friends and get involved!

4. One crucial way to make a positive impact is to use your voice
When you join the community as a writer, you probably just want to write. But, something that no one tells you, is that you become part of a community. As you gain prominence, it’s really important to use the voice you have within the community for good reasons. On Instagram, for example, over the years there have been horrible incidents within the community. Although as writers, we don’t sign up to be advocates of good behaviour and respecting others, you often might need to accept that responsibility. Episode writers are almost like a family, and it’s so important that you’re sensible and kind enough to help promote good behaviour and call out anyone who is having a negative impact on the community.

5. Be resilient and patient
Another important thing that no one tells you - and no one can prepare you for - is that there will be times when you want to cry, when you want to quit the community, when you feel angry and undervalued and you just want to give up. If you’re lucky enough not to ever feel like this, then you’re truly lucky! But the reality is that, with great privileges comes great hardship. There might be people who doubt you, trolls who don’t like you, or you just might feel overwhelmed from pressures that come with being an author. But the key to surviving is to expect this and prepare for it; the truth about succeeding as an Episode author and staying sane is that you must put yourself, your real life and your mental (and physical) health first. Particularly new authors might not be aware of how tough things can get, and how ugly people can be - so I’d just say, try and make some reliable friends in the community, focus on doing what you love, stay positive, and if you ever feel overwhelmed, or need someone to talk to, then reach out to an Episode support page (there are many, e.g. on Instagram or the Forums) or, what you might be afraid to do, is also reach out to another author. Truth be told, no one understands what Episode authors go through like other Episode authors do! So, don’t be afraid to talk to someone else and ask for help when you need it. Everyone faces the struggles and will have their own stories and advice.

So, I hope this article has been interesting, albeit a bit different, and given you some food for thought! Hopefully this has shed some light on the realities of being an Episode author. This all may seem a little negative - and I apologise if you’re now worried! - but it’s important to be realistic and have some idea of the “extras” that come with being an Episode author. Don’t forget though, as you may know, there are also great benefits and privileges of being an Episode author that you don’t expect when you first start writing. It’s a wonderful community and you get the chance to connect with a lot of awesome and very talented people - not to mention, having readers support your stories, and send you lovely feedback, is such a warm, proud feeling. But, just make sure you’re somewhat ready for the craziness of being an Episode author - be prepared for anything, and just embrace what the community has to offer! Stay true to yourself, write from your heart, be mindful and respectful of others, and you’ll be just fine!

NB: Also, for new authors - congratulations on becoming part of a vibrant and enriching community! Here’s hoping you make the most of this opportunity and enjoy living the hectic #Episodelife!

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This is so -excuse me if I sound cringe- touching! It does take a lot of strength to not let the trolls weigh you down too much, and even if you’re a super experienced writer, there will be bad people and the comments can make you upset. And yes, make friends :clap: lots and lots and lots of TRUE friends!

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Ahh thanks so much for this :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes:

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hear-hear-gif-1

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Thank you! I’m glad you agree with some of the things I’ve said. :blush:

You’re most welcome! I hope you find it insightful! :smile:

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Thanks! :heart:

not sure if this is something but number 6 people wants character customiztion

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I made a meme for the occasion

Meme

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Haha, yep, that’s definitely a fan mail I’ve had before! As a visual platform, it is somewhat understandable that readers might want to change the appearance of their character - but, I do think it’s important for them to respect the author’s decision if they don’t have CC, and to also respect the author’s vision for their story - after all, it is the author’s story and the author’s characters! But, at least most of the time, people asking for CC are relatively polite.

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Yes, this is definitely true, particularly for bigger authors. One of the most common questions they get asked!

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I am currently planning my very first story, so thank you SO, SO, SO much for this article. I really needed to read something like that. By the way, I’ve also had a look at your story planner and, though I already wrote most of what you suggest in my notebook, I printed out a couple of copies of the episode planner grid. It looks really helpful, so thanks a lot!:smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Eh, at least it means people are interested, right? Lol

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Yes, I guess. It is flattering - but it can also be irritating as an author, when you’re working hard to publish and update as fast as you can, but people are still persistently asking all the time. It really also depends on how people ask - there can be a fine line between “eagerly asking” and “harassing” sometimes.

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Thank you for your kind words, and you’re most welcome - I’m glad this article, and my story planner, have helped you. Hopefully this wasn’t too negative for you, but just an insight into some of the less obvious consequences that come with writing on Episode! Good luck with your story!

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No, it wasn’t negative at all! It actually helped me to know what I might “have” to face once I manage to publish my story, so don’t worry about that. I knew that it wasn’t all pretty, but this post actually helped me prepare myself! And thank you!

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I’m glad you found it helpful then! Best wishes for your writing!

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Nice to meet you two! Copywriting is an interesting industry for sure - I write non-fiction documents/reports/research/articles probably more frequently that I write fiction, and it’s a different kind of fun (although formatting and referencing can be a pain for formal documents!). I’m glad you found my post useful - and if you’re thinking of writing, then go for it and give it a try if you like the sound of it! There are many pros and cons, but the Episode community is full of wonderful people. I’m privileged to have met many amazing authors and readers. It’s always worth giving coding a go if you feel up to the challenge! If you decide to - then good luck, and I hope you enjoy the process and experience!

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