11 Tips to Writing a Hit Episode Story!
By Angela Han
Whether you’re a first-time creator or have written countless Episode stories, you may find yourself wondering how to best keep your readers engaged and coming back through the entirety of your story. With this guide, we’d like to give you our top insights to keep in mind when you’re working on a new Episode idea and how to help your readers love it!
- Know what your story is about. This one seems simple. It’s likely that any writer would respond with “Well, of course I know what my story is about!” But go one step further to ask “Do I know what the one true heart of my story is?” A good test for this is to describe your story in one sentence. This helps you concentrate on its core without getting lost in all of the other elements—and really deliver on your story for your readers.
- Know where your story is going—outlines are super helpful for this! This doesn’t mean you can’t explore your story through writing first, if that’s your process. This just means that after that exploration, make sure you understand your story at a structural level. Where does it start? Where will it end? What are the major conflicts, events, and twists that will keep readers hooked along the way? Knowing exactly where your story is going gives it a momentum that readers can feel.
- Let your readers know when your next episode is coming—and deliver! Our readers love it when their stories follow a regular, consistent release schedule, so the more that you can create that experience, the better. Your readers will appreciate the extra effort on your end, especially if you finish the story!
Nail Episode 1.
- Hook us in the first episode! Think of your first episode as a first date. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so don’t hold back—you want to give it everything you’ve got! For more ideas, see our Zendesk article for how to Hook Your Readers in Episode 1.
- And related to that, deliver on your genre in Episode 1! If your story is about romance, we need to see the love interest and MC meet. Same thing if your story is a mystery: kick-off that mystery in Episode 1, or if it’s horror, have something terrifying happen. Episode 1 signals to the reader what kind of ride that they’re in for, so you want to make sure that you deliver on your story’s genre loud and clear.
- And if your story is a romance, establish the main character and love interest’s chemistry right away. Show us why these two people are perfect for each other. First, establish their dynamic: is this an enemies-to-lovers story and sparks are flying? Do your characters banter, flirt, or play hard to get? Use their very first encounter to show us their specific dynamic. (And try not to default to the love interest saving the main character from a creepy situation as their first encounter: it’s overdone and can be off-putting.)
- Deliver on your premise in Episode 1! If your story is about twins switching places, have us see them switch places for the first time in Episode 1. Don’t make readers have to wait for you to deliver on the premise or you risk them leaving before you really get the story started.
- Deliver on your characters in Episode 1! After you take the time to know who your characters are, including their goals, fears, and deepest insecurities, make sure that your readers know who they are, too! They should get a sense of who these characters are now and who they’ll need to become by the end of the story. And show readers how the characters interacting will create excitement, conflict, and romance!
- Cut out anything unnecessary. Be ruthless. Once you’ve written a draft, go through and cut anything that’s not absolutely necessary to the story. Be lean and efficient to keep momentum high. Try to begin scenes as late as possible and end them as early as possible. This also goes for your lines of dialogue: avoid large blocks of text.
- Give exposition only when we need it. When starting your story, give readers only the information they need in order to understand what’s happening. Giving too much setup or background all at once can become information overload and risks losing readers’ interest. And, bonus points: if you hold off on giving readers information that they’re really interested in, you plant a question in their mind, and they’ll want to keep reading until they get the answer!
- Show, don’t just tell! Episode is a visual platform! Try using an effective visual in place of a chunk of text. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words... as shown below!
Read other stories for inspiration!
- Take a look at what works on Episode! To set yourself up for success, see what’s popular with readers. Check out the top stories on Episode’s “What’s Hot This Week” shelf and the top stories in each genre’s shelf. One tip: Readers LOVE romance on our app, so that’s a great place to start!