To CC or Not to CC: The Middle Ground

Recently, I wrote a post about when and how to use CC in your stories. It was really well-received, but many people on the forums were left with a question: are there really only two options? Is it really bad to have stories that use CC where the MC has a very distinct personality? Is there a way to give people the custom options they want and keep your image? Of course! While my initial post is a really good starting point, there are other ways that you can use CC in your stories to keep your readers happy.

There is a middle ground. In fact, there are many different ways that you can reach a compromise between what you want and what your readers want. You aren’t stuck with the reader character or the original character! However, these choices are a lot more difficult to get right. So, it is crucial that you have a good understanding of what CC is good for.

I will be giving you options to use throughout this post. If you haven’t already checked out the first post in this series, I suggest you do that now, though. It’s full of helpful tips on how to keep your readers happy, and what people look for in stories.


So What is the Point?

Well, CC is a huge part of Episode. There’s a reason that people ask for so many different assets in the forums. On such a visual app, it’s natural for people to want to see themselves in stories! You’re surely going to see loads of reader inserts! Episode gives us a unique reading experience that lets us join our favourite characters in their journeys! If I could do that for Harry Potter, you can bet I would have spent money on it… and I don’t mean the expensive mobile game.

So giving CC options in your story is a great way to up your reader numbers and keep your fans happy. With CC, you have the chance to sell without selling out! You can keep your story how you want it and still let readers have the control that they want. You let them choose their story, as the slogan boasts, without giving up your authenticity.

The more choice you can offer people in a story, the easier it will be for them to care about the characters. Of course, this is true mainly of the MC and the LIs, but that’s not all. Giving the reader lots of CC options and choices does help in another way: it lets them choose how they speak to and act around the people in the scene. Making the reader choose the right options to get the right outcomes gives the story stakes. If there are stakes in the story, the readers will probably stop and read with care.

But What About Non-CC?

Non-CC stories are still perfect! As I’ve said before, CC vs non-CC often comes down to the way you view the app. Do you want readers who see the app as a game for them to get involved in? Do you see it as a chance to tell your story with visuals? It’s completely which one you go for! Non-CC stories are great for writers who have a very clear idea of how they want their MC to look and act, of course. It gives you the freedom to express your MC in the way you want to.

But if you’re looking for both choice and an authentic reader experience, you’ve come to a big problem: how do you offer both to readers? How do you let them choose how characters look and give them the chance to put themselves in the story if your MC acts in the way you choose? That’s where things get fun. The good thing is that there are many ways you can do this right!


How to Do It?

The short answer is that you’re probably not going for a reader insert character. You’re probably going for something in between. That’s great! We can work with that! There are loads of different ways that you can add CC to a story for different reasons. Here are just a few to scratch the surface.

Give The Character a Name

So unlike with the reader character, with this choice, you are going to pick the name of the MC. It’s up to you to decide if the MC has a really unique name or a common one. The chances are even if you choose a well-known name, most of the people reading the story aren’t going to have the same name as your MC. That means you’re clearly showing your reader that the character isn’t them, even if they do get the chance to choose how they look.

This works very well, as it shows the reader that the MC is still your character and they will still act and speak like your character. Then it’s their choice if they want to make the MC look like them. It’s being very clear with the reader what the aims of the story are and gives them a clear warning that they shouldn’t expect the MC to be like them.

I recommend this if you do want to get as many readers out of Episode as you can. It can be hard to write a good, consistent story with a reader character. Why? Well, because you might get stuck in a rut of endless personality choices. Choosing a name for your character gives you a break from all the stress and clearly tells the reader “this isn’t you. Don’t expect them to act like you”.

Limited CC

This one is a sticky subject. You need to have a reason why you’re limiting the reader’s MC choices. This is especially true if you’re thinking of limiting the character’s skin colour. We already have lots of white MCs, after all, and it can come across as a little racist if you’re not letting the readers choose their skin colour for no reason. It’s fine if your MC has to be a certain race, but be wary of this. Diversity is a big problem on the app as it is, and it might not be a great idea to stop your MC from being black or Asian for no good reason.

It is good for if you are trying to add diverse MCs into the mix, though. I mean, I’ve already said before that CC isn’t diversity, but maybe this is the exception. If race really matters to a story, you can limit skin colour choices. This is great if you have a story about a minority MC — and even more perfect if the story is about being a minority. You can let readers choose how they look but keep true to the story you wanted to write.

As well as this, you can use one quality like hair or eye colour to describe your MC. If you want her to have blue eyes or silver hair, let her have those features and let the reader choose everything else! Then, your LI can still say “she has bright blue eyes”. The rest of the looks will depend on the reader, though! That strikes a great balance! Perfect for art scenes from behind and keeping your MC unique.


Gem Choice CC

This one will get you a little bit of backlash, but it’s worth it if you do it right! I’ve already spoken about this in my post about gem choices, so feel free to check that out if you want more info. If you really want to unlock payments, this might be a great way to do that! For one, it’s a lot easier to get 100,000 reads than 500,000. Also, people who like CC are going to put in the gems if they want to read.

Be clever, though: have your first gem choice be CC. First gem choices in stories are always free, so your readers aren’t going to feel betrayed! If people care about reader inserts, they’re going to take the chance to customise and you’ll get those much needed gems. If not, then they can read the story with your “vision”.

This only works if you have a clear idea of what you want your MC to look like and wouldn’t usually give people CC. Then, you’re giving them an extra choice that they can use. They get the option if they want to use it and you get the comfort of knowing each CC is helping you get paid, even if you’d rather they keep your vision. It’s a good enough trade, if you ask me.

Make sure that your story is worth spending gems on if you’re going to do this, though. There’s nothing worse than spending money on something that isn’t great quality. Check your spelling, check your grammar and make sure that your story is smooth and interesting.

Hair and Lipstick CC

This one keeps your MC pretty much the same as you imagine them, but allows readers to have some control over how they look, too. You let readers have a say in what the character wears and how they have their hair. Plus, you throw lip colour in there, too. That way, readers still get a chance to choose some of the MC’s looks, but you can keep most of the features the way you like them. It might be a good idea if you have a unique-looking MC whose facial features are important to the story.

Again, this works if you still want a lot of control over the way your MC looks. You can treat lip colours and hair like outfit choices and let your readers choose them every time the MC changes her clothes or needs to “freshen up”. It’s perfect for make-over scenes in stories and works really well for dates. You might want to give this option anyway!


Get Inventive!

I’m sure you can think of loads of other ways to add CC into your story without giving your reader all of the control. It’s up to you to use your imagination and make your story awesome! As long as you make sure that you’re honest and open to your readers, there’s no reason why CC can’t work in all kinds of stories! Keep your eyes open for all of those great ways and keep reading to inspire yourself.

Happy writing!

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