So, some of you might already know that I’m no longer on the Episode Forums or the app. This was a sudden thing that I didn’t expect to happen at all and it was actually devastating to me. I lost access to all of my stories. They won’t let me write. I can’t speak on the forums. I can’t even read stories anymore! So I feel as though I need to clear up some misconceptions that I’ve seen floating around and tell my side of the story now that the dust has cleared and they’ve ignored my emails.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been fighting for me for the past few days. I really appreciate that you’re keeping my memory on the forums alive and I sincerely hope that you won’t all forget about me. As much as I was blunt, opinionated and passionate, I was always willing to help everyone with their stories and I hope to continue doing so. It’s just going to happen in a different capacity now. So with all that in mind, I’ve decided to create an FAQ that will (hopefully) explain everything that happened, what I did and how I’m going to proceed from here. If you know anyone who’s confused, please send them this link to clear things up.
Last Thursday, Episode introduced a new update that allows us to create trans women using the binary male body type. That’s great news for a lot of people out there for many reasons! As well as giving us more freedom to represent trans women, Episode has also given us the ability to represent drag queens, nonbinary people and cis men who like to wear “feminine” clothing. This is a massive leap forward, in my eyes! But with all of this progress, I think it’s time that we sat down to talk about how to represent trans women on Episode the right way.
Now, I’m just a cis woman. I’m not an authority on trans representation or how it feels to be a trans person. I’m just an ally with a little bit of influence and a lot of hope for this new update. I am, by no means, trying to speak over any of the trans people out there who want to comment on the issue. However, as a cis woman, I can see and understand the mistakes that cis people make when trying to represent trans women on Episode. I made many of them myself once upon a time! I probably still make many now. All we can do is learn and grow. Make sure you listen to as many trans people as you can on the issue. Use me as a starting point. Don’t just stick to cis people like me.
I’m also choosing to stick to trans women in this post. That’s because I hope there’s another update in the future aimed at representation for trans men! So with that in mind, let’s jump right in. Here are some of the things that I think need to be said about the new update.
So you’re a new Episode writer? Awesome! Episode is a great platform to start writing on. You have the chance to build your audience and show them your story in a fun, visual way that could hook anyone. But there are many things you need to know as an Episode writer. You seem it’s not all fun and games. Well, it’s mostly fun and games, but it’s going to take you a lot of hard work. Writing for Episode is a challenge! You’re going to have to develop a whole range of skills to do well on the app.
So I’ve put together a list of things I wish I had known when I chose to become an Episode writer. They might seem quite scary at first, but don’t worry! You don’t need to learn all of these off by heart before you so much as type a word on the portal. Of course not! It’s just a good idea to have some of the big things in your mind so that you don’t spend a lot of very confused months wondering how you’re even supposed to do this Episode thing. So just keep these things in mind when you start. Keep coming back to this list if it will help you! Bookmark it! Just make sure that you have a good idea of what it means to be an Episode author and you’ll be off to a great start!
Episode Interactive has its pros and cons. It’s a great app that helps readers to connect with stories in a new and exciting way. Plus, it makes it really easy to chat with your new fans! I loved reading and writing Episode stories during my time on the app. However, learning the code can be a scary prospect for new writers. This is really true if you haven’t read much on the app before you start (which you should do). So I’ve had many people ask me what the point of writing for Episode is. It seems like a lot of work for nothing to them. That’s fair enough, but there are some great reasons why you should write for Episode.
So whether you’re new to the idea of Episode or a veteran reader trying to decide whether you should join the writing crew, there’s a lot of reasons why you should write. Some of them are good for you and some of them are good for the community as a whole. We’re always looking for new writers and new people to talk to. You’ll be welcome for sure! So before you make your decision, give me a chance to tell you why you should write for Episode.
If you want to write something that will get lots of views, you’re not alone. Yes, some people might call it selling out, but I beg to differ! It is fair enough if you spend time thinking about your readers and what you can do to make them happy. After all, who wouldn’t want to get reads for all of their hard work? So all of you authors probably want to know what sells on Episode. I mean, there’s no harm in knowing! Even if you decide that making popular stories isn’t for you, it is great to know your competition.
To be honest, I don’t even see it as selling out if you add a few tropes that you know will get attention. You just need to make sure that you care more about making a story you love. It’s only selling out if you let your money-making needs take over the plot and quality of what you make. It’s all about taking some of the story points that sell and making something new and unique that hasn’t been done before. I’ve spoken about “the same, but different” in my post on writing Episode stories, and this is the best way to do it. Make stories that people will recognise, but make them new and fresh!
So sit back and relax. It doesn’t matter if you end up using these selling points or not! Knowing the things that sell helps you to use them and avoid them. If you’re keen on building your audience, you could start with a story full of cliches, then move onto something more you once you have loyal readers. You can always learn something from the popular stuff in stories if you keep your eyes open.
Diversity can be a really hard thing to add to your story. It’s stressful! If you’re anything like me a few years ago, you’re worried that you’ll do it all wrong and people will hate your story. Or maybe they’ll even hate you! When you say this to other people, they might shrug you off and claim you’re being silly, but your concerns are 100% fair. I’m here to tell you that it’s normal to worry about diversity. In fact, with the way people on the internet can act sometimes, I’d be surprised if you weren’t scared!
But you don’t really have anything to worry about. Diversity has become this big, scary word, but what we mean by it is pretty simple. I think it’s a pretty bad term because it makes it seem like minorities need to be added to a story. It makes minorities seem weird or other, which is the exact opposite of what diversity should be doing. It’s about connecting people, not making them feel further apart! So many many people bite their nails about representation that it makes me feel like we’ve gone about this in the wrong way. Until we come up with something better, though, we’re stuck with what we’ve got.
It’s about time that someone gives you some proper, easy-to-follow tips on how to make your casts diverse. That’s what I’m going to try my best to do! So sit tight and relax. It’s a lot easier than you’d think!
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.
So you’re new to the whole Episode writing thing, huh? Awesome! Writing for Episode can be a great experience if you do it well. It is also really confusing when you first start, though. Despite the hundreds of Google Docs that Episode gives us, knowing where to start can be one of the hardest parts of writing for the app. They really throw you in the deep end, don’t they? You have to learn to code, write a story and build up your own audience. It’s enough to make anyone stop!
But don’t quit yet! We’ve all been there. We all know what it’s like to stress about the coding and get it all wrong. I remember when I started, I couldn’t figure out how to code in dress choices and it stressed me out so much! I ended up abandoning my story for about 6 months — and that’s where it stands right now. My first story is a sad little mess that hasn’t been opened since 2016. It was stressful, but it was a learning curve, too.
So now here I am with 210k reads — a respectable number — and packed with advice that I wish people had given me. Follow these steps and you’ll have a lot better time as a newbie writer than a lot of the people who came before you.
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.