Tips, tricks & discussions: How to make your story better

Hopefully, people here will find this useful too. I mean, I’m an amateur, but I’m studying and researching and if at least something of this helps - I’m glad.
I will copy everything from my original Episode thread and will keep on adding more posts.

Please note, that some of these points are clearly subjective, but still, maybe you will find them useful.


I. Directing, Pt. I
II. Directing, Pt. II
III. Inconsistent Characters
IV. Character Flaws
V. Writer’s Block
VI. The Power of Questionnaires - Part I
VII. How To Slay Dialogues
VIII. How to Build a Plot
IX. Love Triangles
X. What is good writing?
XI. How to Avoid Reading Episode Original if You Have a New Acc

23 Likes

Directing, Pt. I


Author’s introductions

Whyyyy? Just why do you do them?
Most of the author’s introductions aren’t even necessary.
First of all, the writer’s introductions break the 4th wall. The fewer distractions you have in your story, the more invested reader will be. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book - reader/viewer wants to forget about reality and get into this amazing story for some time.
Secondly, what is so important you want to tell, that is worth doing it?
That you will let the reader customize a character? Well, tell it at the customization part?
That your first chapters suck, but it will get better? If you know that they suck, why would you publish them?
That your first language isn’t English and you apologize? If you feel such guilt, maybe it’s worth finding a proofreader? Or at least run your script through grammarly.com or smthg? Don’t apologize just because you’re not perfect in something. Just do it the best that you can.
That your story used sound or contains explicit language? Make a splash! Or ask someone to do it.

If the reader will be interested in something about your story, he/she will write you a fanmail!

Customization through Avatar Creator
Why?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you included customization, but … Avatar creation option is limited. It doesn’t have new hairstyles, lips etc. Get a nicely done customization template! There are so many available! Check @Dara.Amarie thread .

Low-quality backgrounds

I know how hard it is sometimes to find the perfect background.
But I see it so often, that author’s use backgrounds with such a low-quality, that when you zoom on them, they become all blurry and pixely.
What I can suggest?
Well. First of all, use better quality images. :woman_shrugging:
Second. If I need to zoom on background very closely (like above 400-500%) I upload this background part as an overlay . I’m not sure why it is like that, but when you upload images as backgrounds, Episode reset them to some standard quality or something. It doesn’t happen with overlays.

Music and sounds use
There is nothing wrong with NOT using music and sounds in your story. Maybe they aren’t needed.
But if you do. Don not overuse music . I saw a couple of times when authors put music in every scene. Music should complement the scene, not just be there. Constant music all the time is kinda distracting and annoying.
Believe me, there are a lot of readers who read stories with the sound on.

Outfit names
Not that often, but it happens, that I see outfit game in story, and choices are named like “One” or “Outfit 1”. Why I dislike it?
Let’s imagine, you have 4 or 6 or 10 choices. I’m one of those people (and the majority is just like me) who likes to try em all. But when I’m at the 4th/6th/10th option, and I sorta decide what I want to wear, I can’t remember where was the one I liked. So I suggest naming these options the way they would be recognizable like “Denim shorts” or whatever, not just “One”.
Small detail, but easily done, and makes your story a bit more appealing.

Non-talking animations used with dialogue lines
I see it in almost every story!
I get it, sometimes it is hard to find the perfect animation for the specific line.
But when you use wink animations, admire, eyeroll animations with the dialogue lines - a character says something with its mouth basically closed. I donnow about you, but it seriously bugs me. Maybe I’m just too attentive to details, but I surely know I’m not the only one.

Spot commands for background (and main) characters
Yep. It requires some attention and work.
I won’t explain why it is important, because the reason is just the same.
Dara.Amarie IG post’s screenshot that I find really helpful.
image

Looped animations
This is a common mistake. which can happen to anyone.
Just remember. If you use looped animation, don’t forget to add @CHARACTER starts some_idle_animation after its dialogue lines , so that when other character starts talking, the first one doesn’t stand with his mouth open.

Frozen faces

Check character faces after all animations. Sometimes they are stuck with a weird face, like after the callout or greet animations. You can always put idle_shiftweight animation after their lines.

Speechbubble positions
Maybe you don’t use them. That’s fine!
But if you started once, you either continue putting speechbubble spot everywhere , or you reset it ( @speechbubble reset )

Animation before every dialogue line
This is a basis. Put animations before every dialogue line! It is a must (well, except if you use loop animations).

Use zoom
Use zoom in your stories, especially for conversations that are longer than a few phrases. Zooming on talking character will make the scene more alive and dynamic. If you are not sure how to do it well - check sitcoms or something, and pay attention to camera work. it is just the same.

Exit/enter commands vs. spot commands
I personally stopped using enters and exits commands a long time ago. Spot commands are simply better :woman_shrugging:

Okay, I will explain why.
First of all, well they provide better varriety of spots O_o Simple as that.
Second thing, that is just as important, especially if you place more than 3 characters. Entering and exit commands mess with the layer your character is supposed to be on.

Once I had a problem, where I had a lot of background characters, and MC was walking down the isle. I put her on her place with a spot command, layered her, everything is cool. But when she was running from the isle and I used exit command, her layer changed, and suddenly she appeared to be behind background characters.
Spot commands rule other ones suck ^^

Art scenes
God bless Mette Peleikis, who in my opinion made this art scene thing trendy.
Don’t get me wrong - I love art scenes.
If first, they fit the story , and second - they are decently done .

What I mean by fit the story ?
If you want to put art scene in your story bEcAuSe iT’s pReTtY for a couple of seconds - bad news - YOU DON’T NEED IT
Where I think it is appropriate to put art scene?
When there is some kind of intense moment, that doesn’t require a lot of animations but has quite some narration. Got it? Examples… A moment before the kiss? First dance? Someone dying in MC’s arms?
Now about the quality.
I know, I know. A lot of writers sooner or later start doing art. Nothing wrong with that.
And I get it, you made something, you want to share it. But let’s be real honest here - most of the first, and second, and maybe third art things anyone does - kinda suck (mine sucked hard as well). What’s the point of putting the art scene into the story if it looks like a drawing made by 5 yo?

11 Likes

Directing, Pt. II


Background characters
You’d be surprised how many writers avoid it.
This is a really time-consuming process, but it makes scenes look more dynamic. I read some stories where writers don’t put BG characters, and to be honest I didn’t notice it until later episodes. When it is like this every time, just talking characters on the screen, scenes start to feel empty.
Effect is worth the effort.

Filter use
This feature is present for quite some time already, but I think it’s not appreciated enough.
I happened to read stories, where writers show flashbacks, but don’t put any kind of filter, or at least transition between scenes. This can be very confusing.
Besides this point, the filter can be a very nice visual complement to the scene. For instance, in my story most of the scenes happen in “nowadays”, but there are some scenes from the past (17th century), so for these ones I use the filter. It helps to distinguish times.
What can be done besides using filters, if none suits your story? Try to use overlays as filters.
For the same story I, for example, used simple white (around 15-20% transparent) overlay, as a filter for dreams. With the overlay, used as a filter, you have one more advantage, as you can place some characters behind the filter, and some in front.
Guide How to Fade Characters
How to Use Filters

Non-instant zooms

Now, we’ve talked about the importance of zooms.
What is one of the things that you can do bad with zooms?
Placing non-instant zooms through all the conversation
Sometimes I feel like some writers don’t know that you can put instant zoom Just in case @zoom on xx xx to xx% in 0 .
Why is it bad? Welp, for starters it’s annoying as f*ck. Second thing. If the conversation takes more than a few phrases, and you’re using non-instant zooms, it makes pauses between phrases too big and makes these conversations less realistic.

Secondary characters customization
Just a note, a few sometimes forget. Always add a short description to any secondary character’s customization. No need to write a 10 line synopsis, but a short description will work.

Naming background characters
Well, it is clear, you don’t have to name BG characters if they don’t speak at all. But if they say at least one phrase - just write some random name. This is one of these little things, that might seem insignificant, but they show your “professionalism”.

Using forward/at_camera animations

If your story isn’t built around the 4th-wall-breaking-concept - don’t use these animations . These animations are either for this concept or for author’s introductions :confounded:. End of discussion.

Go to the Top

13 Likes

I dunno if it’s the Buffy gifs, but this is awesome stuff.

Super helpful stuff!

6 Likes

Thanks xD I have 18 more posts, just didn’t want to flood it at once

5 Likes

When one of these is used while a character is talking to another character I’m like “Don’t look at me, freak, look at that poor guy you’re talking to!” :laughing:

7 Likes

:joy::joy::joy::joy::joy:

2 Likes

Sameee

Yup, but some people still use the enter/exits animation and it’s so annoying when all the guys in a story shrink when exiting. Just, ugh. Learn how to have your characters exit/enter nicely :neutral_face:

Also, some people probably don’t know that the & symbol exists and their characters pop in the scene :confused:

7 Likes

It’s itching talking about this :sweat_smile::sweat_smile::sweat_smile: Directing man. That I will never do again

6 Likes

I shall pin this. Or should I not? @ChaoticDeluge @ShanniiWrites. It’s very helpful. :see_no_evil:

5 Likes

Sounds like a good idea to me!

3 Likes

ow, that’s sweet ^^

1 Like

This is awesome.

You know Shannii–You really tend to take the spotlight from others. :expressionless:

3 Likes

You took ages. I gave you like a whole hour to do it but I was here waiting :woman_shrugging:t4:

5 Likes

:face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

2 Likes

:rofl::rofl::rofl:

2 Likes

One-sided, inconsistent characters and how to avoid it


This is actually a very common problem for authors, especially new ones, and I think I might have the same problem. Welp, I’m not a professional writer, so sorry, not sorry. Anyway, what do I mean by that?

Inconsistent character, in my humblest opinion, is that kind of character, that acts totally different in each/almost each scene/conversation/event. I recently reviewed one story, and I noticed, that character acted completely different in conversations with 3 different guys. Not like, a bit different, but MAJORLY different. Personally, it makes me confused. Like I’m reading a story, I get to know my character, and either I find it fine/tolerable and continue, or not and I quit. If I think that character is fine for me, but then in later scenes she acts like a totally different person…It makes me think that the author doesn’t have a clear character concept, and just fits its behavior for each scene, without really thinking.

Now one-sided characters. It speaks for itself. Have you ever met a person that is perfect in any way? Or bad in everything? No. Every person has its flaws, and advantages , every person is always conflicted, even if a bit, about what society and relatives wait from him/her and what he/she wants. Behavior dictated by our past, dreams, fears, morals and many more.

Now creating a one-sided character and creating non-consistent one is equally bad IMO.
Why does it happen? Because we don’t have a clear character concept in our head, so we project our mood/plotline/side characters and character acts illogically, if you compare it to previous behavior.

How to create consistent, interesting character

Now let’s imagine you have some character idea. Vague, but that’s fine.
I strongly advise filling character questionnaire for every important character in your story
What is this? Character questionnaire (link is below) is the list of questions you have to answer from your character’s perspective, about its age, name, family, dreams, likes and dislikes, best qualities and worst, its fears and aspirations, what it thinks about religion, sexes and other things.
Yep, it is time-consuming. But it’s totally worth it. When you answer these questions, you imagine this character in your head, almost like it’s a real person, and further, when you’ll be writing its dialogue lines, describing what it feels, you will have more or less a very clear image. And these questionnaires will help you a lot with the plot itself, I can assure you. They will give you more plot ideas, and make your writing better and easier.

Character’s Questionnaire

Go to the Top

8 Likes

Seems really useful. It’s thoughtful of you to do it, @fcukforcookies

3 Likes