On Episode, promoting your story is a lot harder than it seems. Episode doesn’t do much to help their less known authors, so it’s down to us to make sure that we spread the word. That’s fine! At least it means we’re all in the same boat. But then how do some authors get so big while some amazing stories get lost in the shadows?
There are thousands of stories on Episode and it’s your job to stand out among the crowd. Woah. Crazy, right? No wonder there are so many amazing stories that never get the reads they should! How is one person supposed to stand out in a crowd of thousands when they have no help at all? Well, I’m here to tell you that it is possible. It will take you some work, but if you’re passionate about seeing the results, you can do it.
While I can’t promise you that I will make you popular, I can say that these are the best strategies for getting there. It’s all down to you and your story if they work. Stick around and I’ll introduce you to the Episode beast and show you how you can slay it for good.
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.
Gem choices have always gained a lot of criticism, and I know why! I was one of the people who hated the idea when they put them in featured stories, and you can bet that I was angry when they were added to community stories. It was a real worry to me that people would overuse them or use them badly. I thought they’d be treated as a way to get into the Writer’s Payments section as soon as possible and screw over the reader. I didn’t think that community writers could handle it.
Well, I can be wrong. I was definitely wrong about this one! In fact, it turns out that the Episode team sucks at using gem choices, while loads of the community authors use them well. Typical Episode. They teach one thing and preach another! So I’ve changed my mind about gem choices after seeing them used well in stories like The Infected. Lots of authors are using them well, and I really can’t complain.
There is still the chance that you could abuse gem choices, though. If you’re using them as a means to an end (to get into the Writer’s Payments), the chances are that you’re using them wrong. If you think about them and use them with care, there’s no reason why they can’t be a great bonus to your story! So sit back and I’ll give you some ways to use them well!
Consent can be really tricky to talk about. In fact, sex as a whole can be such a tough subject! I don’t blame you if you saw this title and you wanted to run for the hills! We do need to talk about it, though. We need to be able to discuss sex if we’re going to write for such a romance-heavy app. It’s not something we can avoid! If we don’t think about the way we’re portraying sex in our stories, we can run the risk of sending out the wrong ideas. Sex sells, but we need to make sure we’re selling it properly.
Why is this so important? Well, there are thousands of stories on Episode, and many of them portray sex in a very uncomfortable and unhealthy light. They make non-consensual sex seem romantic and okay as long as your character did actually want it deep down, or if they loved the LI. No. That doesn’t make it okay. In fact, that just shows how many people think non-consensual sex can be okay if they show it from the “right point of view”. It’s worrying!
Most of the readers on the app are teenagers, which means you need to be able to write with a teenage audience in mind. They’re young and are just forming their own sexual identity. It is the worst time to give them bad views on sex because they have no normal sexual experiences to go by yet. That means that they run the risk of thinking that these stories are normal sexual experiences because they have nothing else to go by. That’s why Episode authors need to be smart. We have a duty to not normalise toxic behaviour.
Writing a story on Episode is hard work. There are so many choices you have to make! One of these choices is how much control you give the readers over your main character (MC). Do you want the reader to be able to change as much as possible? Or do you have a clear idea of what your MC is supposed to look and act like? Since the start of INK, customisation (CC) has been a big part of Episode, and something that many readers demand on a regular basis. It makes sense to me! After all, who doesn’t want to see themselves doing cool stuff? I certainly do! But there’s something much more important: a good story. You need to ask yourself first and foremost if CC will suit the story you’re telling. Would it make your story better or will it take something away?
This is why I split the main characters (MCs) into two categories: reader characters and original characters. Granted, most stories don’t really fit this pattern, but still! It is a useful way of looking at your work and assessing if you should use CC options. Hopefully, this will help people who want to write stories in the future.
Diversity standards aren’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to writing for Episode Interactive. As a mixed-race woman, believe me when I say that diversity is definitely an essential aspect for the improvement of a platform aimed at younger audiences. Globalisation has become a standard part of our world today, and so it is crucial to ensure that we are able to empathise with the people around us despite our differences. I am definitely not disputing the importance of promoting this cohesion and helping younger people to focus on the similarities rather than differences between different people. However, as a writer on Episode Interactive, I have to say that diversity standards don’t always work.
Why would I suggest this? Well, sadly, you can’t wave a magic wand and make the world more accepting. Forcing people to add diversity to their story when they have little knowledge about how to handle these topics sensitively and appropriately can do more harm than good. Despite the best efforts of these budding writers, they can often find themselves perpetuating gross stereotypes and creating two-dimensional characters to meet a quota, or they can fall into the trap of thinking that merely having a black, gay character in their story is good enough. This is especially true of an app like Episode, in which so many of the writers are young girls who are in the midst of developing their own literary style and opinions of the world.
I have to admire the efforts of some of these girls when they are creating these characters. They really do try their best to make sure that there are a plethora of characters of different ethnic origins, religions and sexualities. Often, though, this falls short of being genuine diversity when you have a look at the tropes that run through a vast majority of these stories. You may have a character in a hijab walking in the background and saying nothing, or a gay character who spends every breath in their lungs reminding you that they are, in fact, gay. Then there is the fear that I have spoken to many Episode writers about when it comes to actually making the protagonist of their story from a minority group. They fear that they will not capture the character well enough and will end up offending someone.