Prose Guide

Overview

Prose is the bread and butter for most writers. However, a few things you should keep in mind while writing episodic fiction for our platform:

  • Free-to-play: While you will have final say over how you monetize your stories, we've found that the best way of getting your content in front of the largest possible audience with the best economics is to allow the beginning chapter to be free and monetize latter chapters once they're engaged.

  • Hook: Since stories are free to start, your stories will need to hook readers immediately. We find the first 2 pages to be most critical to get right.

  • Cliffhangers: Each chapter should try to end on a gripping note, much like on episodic television. You'll want to pull the readers to start the next chapter.

You've got a ton of platform options for publishing traditional fiction but there's several advantages of writing for the Tales platform:

  1. Improved monetization: You'll actually be able to make a living on the Tales platform, unlike some other places where the most you can hope for is to gain enough followers to migrate to a real book deal.

  2. Pilot new ideas: Release as many or as few chapters as you want. When new chapters are released, your fans will receive a notification to come back.

  3. Data: See which stories are getting views and monetization. See where your readers are falling off and tighten up the story to increase your conversion rates.

  4. Iterate: Update your story at any time. Let the community provide you ideas on how to improve your stories instead of paying for an expensive editor.

  5. Images: Add images to visualize key story moments.

  6. Questions/Polls: Engage your fans by asking embedding choices in the story. You can find out what your readers are thinking at any point in your stories.

  7. Interactivity: This is where our platform truly shines. Add choices, track decisions, and branch the storyline.

Genre & Demographics

There are 3 major considerations when choosing Prose over our Graphic Novel format:

  • Style: Best for stories that require third person descriptions for a) creating deep character development (feelings, internal monologue), b) building fantastic worlds that can be hard to visualize (sci-fi, fantasy), and c) providing the player information the player doesn’t have access to.

  • Game Mechanics: Prose can have up to 8 options per choice point, unlike graphic novel with only 2. As a result, it’s easier to create more than 1 solution to each choice, easier to personalize, and easier to monetize.

  • Visuals: Not as visually pleasing as graphic novel: a) there are no staged portraits and b) sets are darkened to overlay text so your story must be carried on the strength of your prose. On the other hand, your stories can be of any time period or location; you have no limitations!

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 we think it's great to mix in comedy, we haven't seen a breakout hit from stories that focused solely on Comedy, Children, Dramedy, and other light-hearted topics. This will hopefully change over time as we increase our readership.

Assets

Sets

You'll be able to request art for Sets that make sense for your story. These images will be displayed as backgrounds to frame your text. The images will be presented in a darkened manner for text readability. They will largely be used to convey mood rather than provide specific details.

 
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Objects

Individual items presented without a background, best used for clues, symbols, and things that the player "picks up" and potentially hold in inventory.

 
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Vignettes

You can insert a vignette to illustrate a key story moment, particularly one that is difficult to describe with words.  Or perhaps there's something you want seared into their memory banks forever.

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Interactivity

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.

Variables

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 with others (how much they are liked/disliked per person)

Choices

 
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  • Unlike the Graphic Novel and Messaging formats, you can have up to 8 choices per choice point. We highly recommend doing 2-4 choices, otherwise you'll be writing an unmanageable outcome!

  • 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.

Branching

  • 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.

Episode Bookends

  • 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 season is 15 episodes.

  • Each episode should have approximately 5,000 to 6,000 words of text (before scripting).

  • Each episode will likely feature

    • 1-3 Sets

    • 5-10 Images

    • Approximately 25-37 Choices