This list will be updated - if you have any more advice, comment below and I’ll add it to the list
First: PLAN YOUR PLOT AHEAD!!!
Don’t write without knowing where it’s really going. It’ll be obvious.
By planning your story ahead, you secure yourself a constistent story line and avoid eventual plot holes. And THAT is half of the success.
Without planning, you might - without even knowing it, ‘catch’ things from other stories you read and put it in your own, which most likely will make your story a huge collection of clichés…
Great tutorial on how to plan your stories:
Catch’em readers! - Things that draw you potential readers’ attention:
Cover - Make it eye-catching.
Don’t publish your story with the default cover ever - it looks very plain and won’t interest your readers. Try to avoid messy looking covers as well. Don’t steal other people’s art or images from the internet you’re not sure are free! Ask around the forums, there are plenty of artisit and editors that do free story covers.
Title - Take time to come up with something good and catchy.
New authors tend to name their stories something very plain and cliché (most seen example: “Falling for [insert any cliché word]”)
Tip: Make your title have a ‘pun-like’ meaning for the plot. Word plays are catchy!
If you’re uncreative when it comes to story titles or can’t seem to find a fiting one - feel free to visit my Story Title Shop
Story description: This is what most probably will make a reader decide wether or not they’ll start your story. Try to summarize what’s your story about without revealing too much, make people want to find out themselves.
Promote your story!
Forums: There are a lot of story promoting threads here on the forums. You can also create one yourself and ask people to read your story.
Social media: Use lots of hashtags, post a lot of teasers/trailers and sneak peeks. Ask fellow authors for story shoutouts or check out some episode helping pages on instagram. (example: @episodeaxiom, @episode.advocates, @episode.luxe)
Get a second opinion - don’t rely on yourself (sorry). This is important! You as the author may see your story as the best and most interesting out there. But from a reader’s perspective it can be quite the opposite. Ask around for a story review (there are many threads here on the forums as well as on Instagram) or a “read for read”. Take some criticism! Don’t get offended when someone dislikes something about your story - instead ask yourself how you can make it better.
Update your story frequently - people tend to lose interest quickly, if you take forever to update. (I know everyone has a life outside episode, but I still think it’s possible to write one episode every 1-2 weeks).
Have your story proofread and beta tested before publishing.
Proofreading: have your story checked for grammar mistakes. I, as a reader tend to stop reading a story when the author doesn’t use commas and periods. Even though many readers are not native English speakers - good grammar and punctuation are pleasant for the eye and make your story more proffesional. There are many authors and pages that provide proofreading services here on the forums and social media as well. Use the opportunity!
Beta testing: even if you haven’t published your story yet - you can still have it read and tested by your friends and/or fellow authors. Send them your story link (not the URL at the top of the page), you can find it at the bottom of your story creation page on the writer’s portal. This is especially important when you’re using a lot of branches, mini games etc. It’s easy to make mistakes in advanced directing.
Give them a background story!
Write it down, even though you might never really use it, but this is what you’ll be referring to when writing their persona. See it as a sort of template on how your character would act in specific situations or how they treat other people etc. It’ll be very helpful in planning out the character development.
What was their life before the happenings in the story?
What was their childhood like?
What is their goal in life?
Make the characters realistic yet unique in their own way - nobody’s perfect!
Give them flaws that affect their behavior. (Examples: perfectionism, workaholic etc.).
Think of them as real people: do the have any habits, addictions? What are their favorite things (color, food)?
Own style - it reflects their personality. (clothing, music etc.)
Do they have any health/mental healt issues? (Asthma, OCD etc.) Complexes about themselves? (Example: Body image)
!!! If you want to include one of those things in your story, make sure to do enough research first. You don’t want to offend anybody who’s struggling with this in real life!
Tip: Instead of thinking what they are like, ask yourself the opposite: what are they not like? What’s their pet peeve? What is the one thing they’d never wear? etc.
Secondary characters - make them be the other aspect the readers to want read more - aside from the main plot. They can really make your story unique and provide additional entertainment. However, make sure they’re not random or just there to expand the story line. Give them background stories, an own life and an own purpose in the story.
!!! Please avoid the ‘best friend syndrome’, especially if the character is black, gay etc.
Best friend syndrome means that a character’s ‘only’ role in the story is to support the MC with their decisions and problems while not having a life or purpose of their own.
Think of a unique plot. Have your story have a ‘goal’ - something where it’s heading towards to. (Example: A great war in a fantasy story, a solution of a murder mystery)
Also: clichés are not a bad thing. People love them, that’s why they’re clichés. But don’t ‘copy’ things from other stories - instead add your own twist to the main idea.
What hasn’t been written yet?
What haven’t you seen in a story before?
If you were to explain what your story is about to one of your friends or family members, what would you tell them? Is it really worth reading?
Drama! but not random, pls
Add some drama that has a meaning for the plotline. Don’t add unnecessary content just to ‘make your story more interesting’ - it’s obvious and the story will seem unorganized… Examples:
- Plot twists
You thought your LI had a girlfriend - surprise! it’s only his sister, you can have him!
- Something from a character’s past - preferably something dark/mysterious, like an old lover/stalker, a sibling they told noone about etc.
- Plot twists
Everyday life - show some aspects of the characters’ everyday life, aside from the main story line but nothing unnecessary. This is to help the readers understand a character more, connect with them and also ‘take a break’ from the main plot. Examples:
- Hobbies - sports, hiking, playing an instrument
- Family life - meeting, talking on the phone with their parents/siblings
- ‘Adulting life’ - appointments, problems at work/home
Choices - make the readers have an impact on the story - or at least make them think so .
While meaningful choices can make your story truly stand our and leave the (experienced) readers in awe - they’re pretty stressfull and time-consuming to code. If you want your readers to have choices but don’t want to do the ‘dirty work’ - make the choices seem meaningful. While the reader thinks they made a difference in the story, really they just had a different dialogue. They won’t really know the difference unless they re-read the story.
Mini games - those are not only fun for the reader but also for you! I personally love to direct mini games and see my idea come to life that way. This will engage and entertain your readers and make your story stand out even more. A mini game doesn’t have to be something complicated, it can be as simple as a “guessing game”. You can come up with your own mini game or get inspired by other authors. Don’t copy other people’s ideas!
Tip: Think of “real life” games and try to code them, examples: ‘Tic-tac-toe’, puzzle.
Music & sounds - it helps to set the mood throughout a scene and makes your story come to live more. A lot of people love it and for those who don’t, they can turn off the sound.
Tip: Play around with the volume.
Make the characters diverse but not just to make your story ‘inclusive’, it’s wrong especially when it doesn’t make sense. (Note: diversity is not only about different race or sexual orientation…)
Examples of diversities: ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation/gender identity, age, styles (emo, grunge), proffesion, size (height or body).
!!! Before you decide to include a specific type of diversity in your story (especially ethnicity, religion and LGBTQ+ related aspects), make as much research as you can! It will not only make your story more realistic but you’ll avoid hurting/offending people from those backgrounds by misrepresenting them.
Story happenings - When and where does your story take place?
Make it something unique! Why does every Episode story has to be placed in New York City? When? 90s, 80s or maybe in the future?
Directing - you don’t have to use advanced directing to make your story look appealing! Just make sure it’s smooth and error-free. (& > @)
Examples of not-smooth directing: characters awkwardly poping into the scene, zooms/pans that take longer that 1-2 secs, transitions that come shortly after the scene.
Tip: Timing is everything!
Backgrounds & overlays - using your own backgrounds and overlays will make your story definitely stand out. There are a lot of creators that happily share their backgrounds and overlays if you don’t have experience in making your own. Make sure the image you use is free! Also always credit the original owner of the image.
Avoid using poor quality images - it’ll make your story look messy.
Zooms - show the important stuff. It’s okay to show the whole scene for a short moment but then cut to where the action is actually happening, for example: close-up to the currently talking character. If you have trouble on how to use zooms, think of it as a movie/tv-show. You don’t see the whole scenery within one scene, it’s shown for a couple of seconds to give people the feeling of where it’s happening and then it’s usually cut to the characters.
Avoid using non-instant zooms (longer than 0 seconds) unless it’s necessary for the scene, like showing the landscape or for a dramatic purpose.
Background characters - use them! How unrealistic is a city street scene with only two people? I know it sometimes takes some time but it’ll make a scene look more alive and realistic. When creating them, don’t rely on the ‘Randomizer’-tool - make sure to check your characters and edit them before continuing. The randomizer often creates old people with colorful hair, dark-skinned people with light lips and vice-versa etc.
Avoid using the same background characters in every scene.
Placing characters - use spot directing! It will make your story look a lot better than when using scene positions. Even though it takes more time - it’s worth it!
Make sure to keep it realistic. Characters that stand farther away are smaller etc.
Characters’ appearance - not every girl has big, pouty lips and every guy a toned body… make them look unique yet realistic. Also pls stop making the several love interests look so alike… (unless they’re related)
Tip: use every character feature at least once throghout your character’s list
Speechbubbles - always place them, don’t rely on the script.
Text effects - play around with the different text effect, they really can help express the feelings in a conversation.
Italic - for memories and narration
Blink - for shouting and screaming
Shake - for sound words like boom, ring, bang, thud etc.
Bold - for pressuring a word
Colors - for different feelings, for example: pink for love, grey for fear, red for anger etc.
Seasons - there are 4! It’s not really realistic in a story that takes place throughout several months, that the characters walk around wearing shorts and dresses all the time.
Let it snow!
And with that come seasonal holidays - New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Halloween etc. which will make your story even more realistic and entertaining, besides - those are super fun to write too!
Filters (!) - While many people may find them unnecessary, I think they can actually make a difference. They can help to set the feeling in a specific scene and also make it look more realistic when it’s happening at a certain time of the day (for example: a sunny day outside, night, sunset).
Intro & Outro - A little extra for the
This is not necessary, but it really makes a story unique if done right, also - it’s super fun to do. Make sure to not make them awkwardly long/ slow though, it can get annoying for the readers.
Remeber! - Writing an episode story should be fun!
It’s a hobby, not a job or a resposibility you have to do. If you don’t feel like writing or experience writer’s block, don’t stress about it! Readers prefer stories that are written with heart and soul. Take your time!
Don’t let haters get to you! - There always have been and always will be people that criticise other people’s creations and ideas. You’re not the first and definitely not the last person to receive hate. Don’t stress about it, you cannot make everyone happy - but make sure you make yourself happy!
Don’t let people tell you what to do with your story (messages like “Character x should end up with character y!” or “CaN wE cUsToMiZe ChArAcTeR x?” ). Again - it’s your story and you decide what happens. If anyone has a problem with the way you write it, they don’t have to read it! There are plenty cliché stories that’ll meet their expectations.
I know writing and especially coding an episode story can be tough at times. Make sure it’s a fun experience for you and don’t hesitate to ask for help! I am always happy to help with anything I can, feel free to DM me or comment under this thread
Visit my other threads:
- Story Title Shop!
- How to: cool night to day scene
- How to: G i f s
- How to: cute falling leaf/feather animation
- Overlay&Background edit shop (read description)
- New authors: Story check!
If you would like to see a specific tutorial or have trouble understanding anything, visit my thread and suggest something! I’m always there to help
If you’re interested, check out my stories on Episode:
Lost Half - story link
Better Off Gone - story link