Tips, tricks & discussions: How to make your story better

Whenever someone tries to be poetic and talk about eye color, I start losing interest in the story fast. Personally, I see it as bad writing. No one pays attention to people’s eye colors right away Dont even get me started when they see eye color from across a fRICKIN ROOM WTF!

Usually, people pay attention to small details AFTER they’ve known the person for a while or if they look at them up close.

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That is so true ^^ Well, u might notice if these details are striking, like unusual maybe, but overall…

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REALLY?! :astonished::astonished::astonished: What’s the point of describing it in the first place when it goes against Episode rules?!

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Well it wasn’t like that)) Not explicit. Just foreplay :joy: But with a lot of romantic description.

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@Stargazer54 started a good discussion thread about the use of narrations in Episode stories, so I’m gonna post it here as well.
Full discussion is here.


Use of narration. Good, bad and worst.

This is a kinda hot topic for me, because like less then a week ago I decided to adapt my story for Wattpad, and yesterday already published first chapters. It’s an interesting experience, and the difference between writing narrations for Episode and for Wattpad is drastic.

Basically, to show the difference in amount of narration - numbers. I have approx. 1800 lines in my first episode, out of which dialogue lines (including occasional narration) takes around 320 lines (or sentences), and the length is around 10 minutes. To write this chapter in Wattpad it took me 4 chapters, in overall reading time of around 35 minutes. Huh? That difference.

Anyway, we don’t need this amount of narration in Episode stories because we have a lot of visuals - backgrounds, animations, characters movements, overlays etc. Basically, I think the meaning of good directing is to maximally eliminate narration. The better you direct - the less narration is needed. And it makes sense because Episode isn’t really a book. When I describe Episode to someone I usually say - it’s like a cartoon or a movie. So I would say when writing in Episode we should try our best to restrain from using narrations when describing actions. Now feelings and stuff are a different story.

What’s a bad way to use narration?

OK. One of the very bad ways to use narration, that I actually saw in a few stories - is to use narration in 3rd person. IMO, this way works in books, and, sometimes in fairy-tale-type of Episode stories, but they should be used consistently all the time. You don’t see the use of 3rd person narration in movies mostly, except for some examples, like Grinch movies with J. Carrey etc., and I think you should use this principle when writing for Episode as well. So if you don’t use some kind of specific approach for your story, I’d say always go with the first person POV narration.

Also, excessive narration. Now, this is kinda hard to explain and measure.
A lot of authors use 1st person narrations for story introductions, and nothing wrong with that, if it used in the right way and amount. One of the things I hate seeing in Episode stories, that instantly makes me wanna exit the story right away, is when writer basically describes literally everything about the character, her life, her family and friends. This one of the ways to make your story not interesting.

I also don’t enjoy when writers use long narrations in conversations. These narrations basically stop the conversation and characters just stand there. This in-conversation narration with thoughts and feelings of MC/POV work in books, but not in Episode stories.

Narration without visuals. Like one-two sentences is fine, but when you write a damn paragraph with the black screen or any other static background- you are just lazy.

What’s a good way to use narration?

So I said about in-conversation narrations above. I’d say that a fitting use of narrations could be using them after these conversations, to describe MC emotions and thoughts during that conversation, if you want the reader to know something you consider important.

The common way is to narrate your character thoughts while some kind of exposition, like showing surroundings, or MC daily activities.

What is your preferred style of narration?

I’d say first person Point Of View. You want your reader to feel like he is playing MC - use this type of narration. I think it is one of the things to make the reader more attached to the character.
For Wattpad, that is more like a book, I feel comfortable using first person POV as well + occasional third person omniscient.

What’s the difference between a well-narrated story, and a bad narrated story?

You narration becomes bad when you decide to use narration instead of animating this part. This is one of the things that makes an Episode story bad. :woman_shrugging:


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Felt like doing something serious and helpful for myself as well, since I started writing on Wattpad, so I’ll dig into the story plot subject.


How to write a good major story plot without messing with the minor plot lines


So first of all, what is the story plot?
A story’s plot is what happens in the story and the order it happens in.
The essence of the story is that something has to happen, something has to change. Something goes from some kind of change to its escalation, then climax moment and resolving the situation.

This change could be:

  • A physical event. Start - MC is arrested for a murder, that he/she didn’t commit. The end - the real killer is found and MC is acquitted. Example: “Seven” movie.
    giphy

  • A decision. Start - MC is forced into arranged marriage. The end - MC decides to leave town with her family’s gardener. Example: “The Invention of Lies” movie

  • A change in a relationship. Start - MC hates the guy/girl. The end - MC falls in love with him/her. Example: “Friends with Benefits” movie.

  • A change in a person. Start - MC has some deep psychological problems and struggles with them. The end - MC goes nuts and blows up the small suburban town before riding into the sunset. Example: “Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie. :smiley:

  • A change in the reader’s understanding of a situation. A bit like the first example with the false accusation, but the difference is that in the beginning reader doesn’t know it, but only finds out the truth at the story end. Example: “Crimson Peak” movie… Maybe?

  • This change might be as well the realization that nothing will ever change. MC has some kind of dream, that she is trying to achieve through the story with shifty success, and in the end, she realizes that she failed and can’t change anything. Example: “Requiem For a Dream” movie.

Basically, the plot is the road that leads from some kind of conflict to its solution or realization of lack of solution/giving up.

Check out @Joyous post about Story Conflicts.


Happiness is so last season…


OK. So I gotta say, even real life would suck if it was just happy.
A small moment of mushy philosophy. Crap, that happens to us makes happy moments more exciting, more meaningful and memorable. Constant happiness would bore us to death. Just as much as we need a tiny, or a whole tablespoon of crap in our lives, we need it in stories, and movies and games. Happiness that comes without struggle is just a coincidence. It gains some meaning when you have to fight for it, overcome something. Same applies to stories.
No one wants to read stories about people just being happy. Happiness doesn’t develop persons, it doesn’t change them. And we want to see changes, even bad ones.
Why am I saying it? Well, I’m sure some of you, or I’d say the biggest part, at some point was reading a story, and it was great, and had a lot of drama, and the conflict is solved, and MC and her friends/family are happy… And yet they won’t finish the story. It gets boring quite fast. So yeah, I kinda get big authors, who are milking this whole thing and want to drag the story as long as they can. But there’s gotta be closure when the plot came to conclusion. I can’t even count how many stories I have dropped when this kind of things happened, and I gotta tell you, I don’t bother to check these author’s stories anymore. Know when to stop.


How to come up with the plot?


The most logical thing is to start with your character.
Now there are a couple of ways to go from. Think about:

  • What’s something MC really wants? What difficulties might get in the way? In these difficulties, you might find this conflict. Example: “The Black Swan” movie
  • What would force MC to do something he or she is really uncomfortable with? Something he or she doesn’t feel capable of doing? Create this situation, and you’ve got a conflict. Example: “Buffy TVS” TV series :heart:
  • There might as well be some external situation, that is escalating without MC affecting it, but this external situation will directly affect MC and will force him/her to act, to change for better or worse. Example: “Hunger Games” movies.

How to plan your plot?


OK. So you’ve figured the story plot, and you created different interesting characters with the help of questionnaires. Now what?

Here’s the simplest way to build the plot structure:

  • The reader gets to know your characters and to understand the essence of the conflict. And the thing in this step is to show it, not just tell it like many authors love to do. To explain this. You can say that character is badass in your narration. But without showing it, these are just dry words and a very lazy approach, that won’t build an emotional connection between the reader and MC. Take some time to show what the character/characters are all about. Show how this conflict affects MC and other characters. What this conflict brings out in them.

  • Now, you have to build up the conflict to a crisis point, where things just can’t continue the way they are. This is the climax point. Something has to change. Maybe MC itself has to change, maybe he/she have to make a crucial decision to solve some major external situation. I’m gonna go with my love BTVS to show examples. If we are talking about the first season - when Buffy finds out she is destined to die. This is the climax, that requires some kind of decision. Is she gonna try to kill the Master anyway, or quit the whole slayer thing? Or 5th season, where Dawn is captured by Glory, and something is gotta be done to save her and the world.
    QIH0

  • The story’s resolution. And it all depends on how the climax played out. Everything character did, every change he/she got through, every sacrifice is leading to this point.

Before you even start first lines in your stories you have to go through these points and write them down. This way you won’t get stuck with the plot, you will avoid many possible plot holes, and this will help you to build better minor plot lines, that will complement the major plot.


Minor plot lines


I won’t focus much on them this time, just a brief comment.

In my opinion, you have to have some minor plot lines along the major one, they can definitely make the whole story much more enjoyable. Also, more, different minor plot lines will help you to capture a wider audience.
Your plot is about some major political conflict? Or maybe apocalypse? This will grab the attention of one small reader part. Add romance! Not just some happy sloppy romance, but some kind of conflict revolving around romance, that will add to MC misery, will help to develop her/him more, that will bring some qualities in him/her that will help to deal with the major conflict. There might be family drama. There might be also the betrayal of a friend, or sickness that will force MC to act differently. These minor conflicts will help you to add depth to your characters. No one says that the conflict have to be about MC. Some minor plot lines might be based on secondary characters, that will somehow affect MC.
There are so many possibilities. But you have to write it all down, and see if these minor plot lines are compatible with the major conflict, if they won’t contradict it, if they will help you to move character towards your desirable climax and end of the story in a most realistic way.
And remember that you don’t have to drag minor plot lines until the very end of the story. You can resolve them in the middle of the story, or at any other point.


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I’m sorry-

I JUST LOVE THIS THREAD SO MUCH!!!

lol.

I honestly love writing advice, even if I’ve heard it a hundred times, it just gets more ingrained in my mind!

One thing I’m really terrible at that I’ve never seen anyone talk about is how to write a first draft, and actually get through it! I write long stuff so sometimes I just give up halfway…
But I do know now that I have to just stick to it to get at least something on the page, because I can revise it later…

Also: Quick random writing question:
What time do you write? I write at night I want to stay up all night writing but I love my sleep… I discovered a while ago that sometimes my brain just works better at night…

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Hehe, weirdo :joy: :bouquet:

Same here. I do these posts for myself just as much as for other people :smiley:

Well, it is best if you have a complete scenes arrangement before you start writing, but I think it’s not really possible :smiley:
When I started writing my story I only knew who is the villain, main heroes and that’s all.
All the minor plot lines, ideas about relationship development between characters, also some new characters came along the way. Of course, it is best if you know it beforehand, but I wasn’t that much into this writing stuff when I began. It can work as long as you adjust your ideas to existing ones, and make sure they won’t contradict your major plot line.
When I start a new chapter I usually write down a short description of all the scenes, then I write all dialogues, and then I start directing. It is better this way because if suddenly I have some dialogue idea, and it doesn’t go well with another dialogue, or maybe it is unnecessary any longer, I won’t waste time on directing.

I can’t say I enjoy night more than the day or vice versa. It just depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m eager to write, sometimes I just can’t force myself. To be honest I am most productive at work. :woman_shrugging: I just can’t help it. I guess writing is more exciting for me than work, so I just try to get free time to write at work.

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Guuurl :laughing:

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Hey. I’m dead serious, like a proper former slut :joy:

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Hey people.

As I’m all into another chapter of my story, I thought about telling a bit tiny and maybe silly tricks I do. Some or even all of them might be silly, or can be executed in a better way, or you know about them. If so - feel free to point it out.


Overlays.

So I create all overlays by myself, and I’m sure a lot of you does the same.
The most annoying thing about overlays, especially if you have like 5/6/10… of them, is scaling and shifting.
What I do to avoid it in most cases.
As I use photoshop, I put the background on the first layer and overlays on higher layers. When I save overlays, I save them like this (don’t know how to explain it, so I’m showing).

Screenshot

So as you see, the future overlay is positioned right as this object is positioned on the actual background. I hide/delete the background and save overlays with this large empty space.

Like this

This way I don’t have to scale or shift overlay, after I create it in the scene.
Just don’t do this with overlays that you later want to rotate around its axis.


When you want to start a scene with a transition from black, but you have to place overlays + animated characters.
I think more than half of the stories I read have this thing when transition at the beginning of the scene is going twice.
The easiest way to deal with this, for me at least is this:
I simply uploaded a plain black background (3 zones) as an overlay. When I have these scenes, I just put this overlay at the very front layer. Then after I positioned everything I need for the scene, all characters and overlays I put:

&overlay BLACK opacity 0 in 2 (well any time)


Just one thing a lot of people actually don’t know about (including me, until like a couple of months before).
You can adjust the music/sound volume. I use music volume reduction in my intro, to make the end smoother, as well as, for example, with scenes featuring driving cars, reducing sound volume when car is driving away.
Code goes like this:

volume music/sound % T

Where % is a number between 1 and 100 (100 being the loudest, and 0 is silent) and T is the time of sound/music change. The thing here is that the time should be put not in seconds, but milliseconds. So if you, for example, want to reduce sound till let’s say half-loud in 4 seconds:

volume sound 50 4000


And the last thing I will put a dressing game I made for my story. It looks like this:


Why do I like it? I just think it is sorta cleaner than when you have press yes or no after trying some outfit. It saves a reader a couple of seconds, which I personally appreciate as a very impatient and easy irritated person. Also, it contains everything you need, to remember these choices for the next episodes, in case you will need to do a flashback. I use this type of dressing game for everything, cause I never know when I’m gonna need this flashback. For smart-asses like @amberose who likes to go out in underwear, the code was adjusted, so this option is not possible, without changing at least once. I also added hair game, with only a couple of choices, but it is easily modified for more.

Dressing Game Code

@CHARACTER =0
label dressinggame_1
CHARACTER
(Text)
choice
“Option 1” {
@CHARACTER =1
@CHARACTER starts dustoff_neutral_loop
@pause for 1
@CHARACTER changes into CHARACTER _1-1
@pause for a beat
goto dressinggame_1
} “Option 2” {
@CHARACTER =2
@CHARACTER starts dustoff_neutral_loop
@pause for 1
@CHARACTER changes into CHARACTER _1-2
@pause for a beat
goto dressinggame_1
} “Option 3” {
@CHARACTER =3
@CHARACTER starts dustoff_neutral_loop
@pause for 1
@CHARACTER changes into CHARACTER _1-3
@pause for a beat
goto dressinggame_1
}“Go with it” {
if (CHARACTER =0){ Here, if you noticed in the beginning I put Character points as 0, so if he won’t change, he will go back to choice, untill gains points, depending on the choice.
@speechbubble reset
NARRATOR (CHARACTER )
(Well, I can’t go like this.)
goto dressinggame_1
}
if (CHARACTER =1){
gain ONE1
}
if (CHARACTER =2){
gain ONE2
}
if (CHARACTER =3){
gain ONE3
}

gain ONE1/2/3 are gains that you can use later, in case you need to make a flashback with the specific outfit :slight_smile: Just remember to put CHARACTER =0 before a label of the dressing game.

Hair Game Code

@CHARACTER =7

label afterhair
CHARACTER (idle_handsonhips_neutral_loop)
(Do I need to fix my hair?)
choice “Natural” {
@CHARACTER changes hair into Long Wavy Parted Hair
@pause for a beat
goto afterhair
} “Dutch Braids” {
@CHARACTER changes hair into Long Double Dutch Braids
@pause for a beat
@CHARACTER =2
goto afterhair
} “Ponytail” {
@CHARACTER changes hair into Sleek Ponytail
@pause for a beat
@CHARACTER =3
goto afterhair
} “Fishtail Braid” {
@CHARACTER changes hair into Over Shoulder Braid
@pause for a beat
@CHARACTER =4
goto afterhair
}
“This is it” {
if (CHARACTER >6){
gain NATURAL1
}
if (CHARACTER =2){
gain DUTCH1
}
if (CHARACTER =3){
gain PONY1
}
if (CHARACTER =4){
gain BRAID1
}
}


Yep, that’s it :smiley:
Hope at least something was helpful.


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You don’t know how many stories I’m playing where my MC is running around is a towel/underwear.

Even one of my friends wrote a CC story where the main character starts out as a “mannequin” (no hair, nose, eyes, mouth) and I had to warn her that I was an idiot and hadn’t changed anything in CC and sent her a screenshot to prove that I wasn’t lying about being an idiot… So the next episode she updated with started with, “Apparently there’s some people running around without noses, so here’s your chance to customize again” LOL

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:DDDDD You are awful

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I know :smiley:

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Wow, I should seriously check out this category more often. I’ve just seen this thread and seems I found something pretty awesome to read tonight. I hope you like notifications because you are about to receive some :smile:

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hehe :smiley: suit yourself

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Hey, Cookie. :grin:
I was just wondering because I didn’t see if anybody already asked this, but I’m interested to know what you think, how many choices per chapter should be put? That’s not including customization, hair/make up and outfits choices.

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Ohhh…

No one did actually.
As Episode is being called Interactive Game, it is supposed to have choices in the story. But to be really honest I don’t really care about choices. If the story is very interesting for me, I might not even notice that there are no choices. If I don’t notice that there were no choices, it means that the story was super interesting. When the story is not that interesting - I notice the lack of them. ^^
But I certainly appreciate when there are choices in the story, as I think they help to build the emotional connection between reader and MC.
About the customization. I don’t count it as a legit choice in the story. U might have it, you might have not, and it is up to u. I won’t count it as a choice.
But I guess, if author don’t put any choices in his story, it would be better not to put any choices (including outfit) at all. To keep this “movie-like” feeling. :slight_smile:

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Yeah, I thought the same, because I want to have that movie-like flow in the story, but on the other hand, I read people complaining about lack of choices, so I’m a bit thorn now…
I want a reader to have a connection with the MC, but still, MC is a separate character and should be independent in some way, I guess. :thinking:

But this answers all, thank you very much. :relaxed:

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hehe, ur welcome :smiley: More topics are welcomed here.

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