Graphic Novel Guide
You're writing an interactive visual novel for a mobile platform. Players will choose stories that sound interesting from a library, then tap through lines of dialogue spoken by visualized character portraits until reaching one of multiple endings unique to their play-through.
Whereas the Messaging format is simulating people text messaging each other, dialogue in the Graphic Novel format is meant to be written in the way it is meant to be displayed and read.
Dialogue is intended as a "perfect transcript of spoken words" - that means perfect spelling and grammar, and no acronyms (e.g. "lol") not meant to be pronounced as a word.
One of the most important components of writing for this medium is fast pacing. Every line counts; there is absolutely no room for passive story setup and exposition.
The opener must hook quickly.
Start with questions, mysteries, and interesting statements. This isn't a book; you should be giving the player an interesting choice to make as early as possible.
Avoid clustered lines of short words and small ideas.
The player taps to advance, and should feel like they're gaining something when they do - a new piece of info or evidence or mystery or question to be answered.
Genre & Demographics
Your stories will be told primarily through the mouths of stylized humans. We won't be able to do your story graphical justice if the primary cast involves demons, werewolves, or corgis with lasers attached to their heads although it’s perfectly fine to have a few characters that break that mold. If you prefer to not be held back with limitations, we highly recommend the Prose Format.
We find the stories that do best on our platform would be best classified as: Thrillers, Mystery, Crime, Horror, Romance; stories that can pull you in immediately. While we think it's great to mix in comedy, we haven't seen a breakout hit from stories that focused solely on Comedy, Children, Light-hearted, Dramedy. This will hopefully change over time as we're able to give you more data.
Your story should be written for an adult audience who isn't afraid of complexity, mature issues, and genuine portrayals of things like humor, romance, violence, and sorrow when applicable.
While this style of storytelling often leans into character development, it's important to develop a narrative that progresses in an active and engaging way, telling its characters' stories through events that allow a player to express agency. There's no time for exposition or lengthy conversations designed for little more than getting to know a character or relationship. No matter the subject matter, your story must constantly propel the player forward through an engaging narrative they want to binge.
Visually, your characters will have a stylistic approach similar to the ones below:
Once you start writing episodes, you'll be given access to a library of characters of diverse gender, age, and race. From there, you'll be able to request customizations, such as changes to hairstyles and outfits, as well as the addition of small accessories such as scars, hats, or glasses. If we don't have the right combination of age, race, and gender in the library, you'll be able to request one made for your story.
Requested actors can be unique and interesting, but should (with minor exception) remain believable and contemporary - as at home in a family drama as a romantic comedy.
You'll be able to request art for Sets that make sense for your story. You'll notice the detail is generally concentrated in the tap zone area on bottom for ease of reading on top.
During the story, static images of important objects and moments can be inserted to break up the dialogue or make a moment special
Your stories should be filled with choices that matter but designed for multi-episode presentation. That means that most of the time players will start and end the episodes in the same physical location (”Transition Points”) but the path to these Transition Points can vary wildly. The latter episodes of the story can break this guideline completely as the story should be branching to completely different endings based on the cumulative effective of previous decisions.
Your main character can persistently track variables:
Levels: External collections such as XP, money, trust, or information.
Traits: Internal attributes such as dexterity, intelligence.
Relationships: How much they are liked/disliked per person.
Currency: Spend currency to acquire items or make choices.
Inventory Items: Allow players to collect items and unlock options based on what is in inventory.
Your choices can be gated by variables/inventory:
The player must have 8 clues to approach the police.
The player must have 17 strength to lift the boulder.
The player is "liked" by Jenna, but must be "loved" to convince her to go to the prom.
Your choices can let players fundamentally change the outcome of the story.
We allow infinite levels of choice nesting.
Key Decision Memory
You'll be give the player invisible flags and reference them in later episodes. These can be used to influence dialogue or invisibly navigate them into customized branches.
Example: If the player said they like milk more than water in episode one, you'll be able to recall and reference that in future episodes.
Since most stories are part of a Season, there won't be wildly different endings in each episode (excluding the last episode).
However, you can provide players information such as:
Their play style
Key decisions they made
How much they improved their stats or relationships with other characters
Content Balance & Budget
Each episode should aim for 10-15 min of gameplay.
We found this is approximately 5,000 to 6,000 words of text (before scripting).
Each season is 15 episodes.
Each episode will have approximately 25-35 Choices