Tips on how to win an episode writing contest?

Hi, I’m just wondering if the more experienced writers here or previous winners of episode contests can share some tips for those who are new to writing contests.

I get that plot and directing plays a part, but can you share with us other tips that we might not be aware of?

For example, stuff like

  • whether it makes a difference to submit the story closer to the deadline
  • is it better to upload chapters in bulk rather than publishing in batches
  • does the inclusion or exclusion of gem options matter
  • or any other advice that you may have
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Hi I have not published any stories yet but many stories I read that win the contest have option to choose the mc gender and li gender, and also awesome intros and outros. Make use of the point systems too, and have different branching and multiple endings.

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Not a winner here but if you are going to enter a contest remember to promote really well in advance to releasing and promote when it is published. Maybe grammer and spelling checked throughly, adding gem choices might make it seen but that is only if people actually spend on it. Check “requirements” linked in the contest thread, check threads on advice for normal stories to see what people like and maybe read some contest winners and see what stood out to you about their story.

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i know that stories are qualified after the deadline if they have over 100 reads and how fast they get these reads. after that you have to follow episode’s rubrik system in your story unique characters, diversity, good chapter length and good choices, interesting plot, decent directing

that depends on your story and the readers. if you have good reader’s retention then it’s up to you if you want gems or not. i once read a freshly published story and spent gems on every single chapter and the story literally trended after a day of being published.

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@J.Miley

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@ksenia.stories

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@LiyahxWrites @Cee @JJ.Author @TalGordin @Spiegel.TheMirror @amepisode @wincyyellow

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So there are usually pros and cons of both, especially as an up and coming writer.
Reads don’t count (as far as retention goes) until after deadline. That means that if you publish too early, and get a lot of reads before deadline, but barely anyone reads after, you’ve shot yourself in the foot.
However, retention doesn’t get measured until you hit 100 reads. So publishing well before deadline gives you a better chance of hitting 100 reads sooner. Also, readers that are just looking for contest stories (not specific ones) tend to read stories with more reads than with very few reads. It’s the same reason why stories with millions of reads keep growing. The perception is that more reads = better story (which definitely isn’t always the case.)
The caveat of all this is unlike other contests, this one next one requires 8 published Episodes. That means all the usual norms are thrown out the window. I would publish 4-5 chapters well before deadline, if you can, and then publish the final 2-3 after deadline (I say 2-3 because Episode readers get 4 passes every 4 hours. I want to read as many stories as I can in one setting. 2-3 gives a bigger possibility of readers who read the already published chapters to read the final ones in one setting.)

I guess I already answered this one in the previous.

It depends on the gem choices. As far as contest entries, I would steer away from gem choices that many readers might find unappealing (of course I try to do that in general anyways). You definitely don’t NEED to add gem choices, but it will help boost your rank and make it easier to be seen once your story passes review. If you add gem choices, I would recommend “support the author” “buying points” and “skipping mini games and getting points”. Don’t use gem choices for customization, outfits, and it’s a 50/50 on bonus scenes.

I made a whole post on my IG page about tips on winning contests. Granted, I made the post before I won the Fairytale Contest, but I used those tools in the Fairytale Contest and won Best Directing.
The link to the post is here:

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I asked Melani about the reads, she said you got the whole contest to reach those 100 reads and not only after the deadline, but retention does.

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That would be the benefit of publishing early. You hit that 100 read mark sooner, and retention counts sooner. That is the advice for writers that don’t have an already large fan base. I know that after I read the stories that I already have on my list to read (friends and followers) I will go through and purposely pick out stories with under 100 reads. I can’t tell you how many I find 5-7 days after deadline that still have under 100 reads, but are REALLY good stories. Some, I can’t help but wonder if they wouldn’t have had a good chance at winning if they’d hit that 100 read benchmark and had retention measured.

Reads only count as far as hitting 100 and triggering retention measurement, and greater visibility to readers.

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Thanks for the comprehensive reply! Sorry I’m a bit confused regarding the part where u said I can upload chapters after the deadline. I assume that at least 8 chapters should be uploaded before the deadline?

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Yes, with this contest, all 8 must be uploaded before deadline. However, you can publish chapters as early as you’d like. So, for example, you could release 3 chapters 2 weeks before deadline, 3 more chapters a week before deadline, and then the final 2 chapters just before deadline.

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Thanks for clarifying! This means getting 100 reads is kinda equivalent to making your contest entry official, otherwise it wouldn’t count? I’m wondering if publishing in batches like this affects reader retention scores?

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If you don’t hit the 100 read mark, your story will not be graded. So, yeah, despite publishing and filling out the form, if you don’t hit 100… it doesn’t make it past the “first round” of judging.
As far as publishing in batches. That’s where this is uncharted territory in terms of contests. Usually there’s a minimum requirement of 3 and sometimes a maximum requirement (must be completed).
Retention wouldn’t be affected if the story is binge worthy, which is what they’re looking for. Something that you ‘can’t wait to read more…’ and will buy passes, or spend gems to continue reading.

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Moved to Episode Fan Community since this is not about story ideas or reviews. Make sure to check out our Forum Tutorial for more info about creating topics, and feel free to PM me if you’ve got questions. :smiley:

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In DL particular case I personally think that it would be better to publish way before the deadline and update the story weekly or biweekly. Jen suggested a nice strategy, it’s good to follow. Publishing 2-3 episodes right before the deadline would guarantee that nobody would copy you. Well, it’s not really about copying tbh. But about checking out other entries level of storytelling, directing, and interactivity. Before contests were quite fun because everyone published at the same time and then checked out others. Now it’ll be a mess XD

That’s a good question. Ever since the gems were introduced to the community stories, Episode didn’t give any information about the gem rubric across the contest stories. So, according to the old rules, it’s “no, they don’t matter”, but in reality, we never know. But one thing for sure – gems would bring your story a better rank, better exposure, and faster review. But as Jen said - do smart gems, don’t annoy readers. Points, skipping mini-games, bonus scenes.

Make sure that your story fits the contest topic! For DL I think it can be tricky what can be count as DL and what not. So find some beta-readers here, on the forum, or maybe check some experienced authors’ Instagrams - some of them provide beta-reading for their supporters. (e.g. @Alusza and @thebutterfly_episode ).

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i’ve never won one or wrote a story in one, so residing on my common sense, some probably useless tips–

  • whether it makes a difference to submit the story closer to the deadline - i dont think it would, but i think the reviewers would read your story more carefully and slowly instead of skipping through it five minutes till deadline.
  • is it better to upload chapters in bulk rather than publishing in batches - definitely in batches.
  • does the inclusion or exclusion of gem options matter - gems would earn you money but if you place your gems unwisely in choices, ppl like me extremely dislike it when community authors charge gems for outfits, recustomization or character redemption choices like episode does.
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