While I am brand new to Episode and have not yet published any stories, I wanted to share these useful from when I write my own stories and from what I have seen online. I see a lot of directing tips and not many writing tips.
Finding an Original Plot
There are many ways to do this and not all of them will work for everyone.
- You may already be brimming with ideas, that’s great!
- Read other people’s stories.
- Obviously, you do not want to copy them directly, but other stories may be a great source of inspiration. You may be able to find interesting themes, which you would like to explore in your own way; or they may be a character trope that you fall in love with. Other people’s stories may even just be able to give you an idea of genre.
- Find story prompts online.
- There are hundreds of these and don’t be afraid to use them. Often they help you gain an entire plot, however, you can also challenge yourself to write a story based on a single line of dialogue.
- Create a character
- Give this character a personality, fears, strengths and weakness and most importantly a goal. Now, your job as a writer is to write a story where they are aiming for their goal but you do everything within your power to stop them from getting that. Whether they have a happy ending or not is up to you.
Write Your Premise
A premise is a single sentence, this sentence is supposed to summarise your entire plot. For example, the premise to one of my old stories would be:
Trapped in a facility, a female experiment subject experiences love for a female scientist who is trying to break her out - what will happen when the female scientist is arrested?
The premise is short and straight to the point. It covers who the main characters are, what the plot is and what the main conflict is. This is also helpful for when you write your description when on the app.
Create A Skeleton
A skeleton maps out the most important steps in a story. There are many different ways to how a story is plotted, however, there are some very typical stages of a successful story. Each part of the skeleton should be about a sentence long.
The Hero’s Journey
This type of story is similar to many stories where the protagonist could be considered a hero, like Harry Potter.
Introduction to the protagonist’s world
Call to action
Crossing the threshold
Mentor teaches the lead
This is only one example of a skeleton, if you wish for examples in other genres, please ask below.
Edit: I am adding a skeleton for a romance story here as I know it is one of the more popular genres of stories here on episode.
Introduce the protagonist
Protagonist meets the love interest but there is conflict
Characters are forced to spend time together
Characters goals contradict each other
Characters are bound together in a situation (cue romantic/sexual tension)
Protagonist’s individual desires conflict with the growing relationship
Crisis - shift to prioritise the relationship ends in disaster
Climax - protagonist must make personal sacrefice for relationship.
Write a synopsis
A synopsis is the brief summary of your complete plot. All the important events should be included. As an example, if your first challenge is something like learning a new skill: explain how the new skill is learnt. Were they taught by someone? Did they struggle? Were they on their own? Did they have to practice? Expand your single sentence from your skeleton into a short paragraph.
This is where I am going to diverge from actual novel writing as Episode is more like writing a screenplay.
Once you have a synopsis written, you should create events which will occur. For example, character A and character B have a meaningful conversation before they share a kiss. You would definitely have mentioned the kiss in the synopsis, but you may not have mentioned that the reader will have a choice as to whether the character will actually go through with the kiss or just hug them.
Flowcharts are incredibly useful in showing what paths your story is taking, especially when mapping out the branches of your story and showing choices. Here is an example from my first episode:
I use software for this, but it is just as possible to draw them by hand.
Now you can start coding. You have your story planned out and are probably ready to write it. I personally recommend writing all the dialogue first and only adding the most important actions first, that way you can test it for time and have beta readers (if you have any) reading it while you are directing.
Obviously, this is only some advice and how I go about planning stories. There is no need to follow any of it, however, I hope it can help some less experienced writers get started with their stories. I am also nowhere near being a talented writer, so feel free to point out any mistakes or things you would improve on in my list of tips.
I might create another one of these on worldbuilding and characters if people would be interested.