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

The primary benefit of prose over our Graphic Novel format is the ability to create worlds that can be easily visualized. Your stories can be of any time period or location; you have few 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

Locations

 
Prose_004.png
Prose_005.png
 

You'll be able to request art for locations that sense for your story. These locations 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.

Items

 
Prose_002.png
 

During the story, static images of important objects and moments can be inserted to break up the dialogue or make a moment special.

  • Objects: Individual items presented without a background, best used for clues, symbols, and things that the player "picks up.

  • Vignettes: Images of complete scenes featuring characters, locations, and objects.

 

Interactivity

Unlike many Tales stories, your story will not branch into wildly different endings per episode. The story must be designed from the ground up for multi-episode presentation. That means that players will mostly start and end each episode the same way. Even so, meaningful interactivity is VITAL to what you write. You have a few choices to make your story feel more reactive.

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!

Gated Choices

The player will need to have these special variables to access certain choices. Examples:

  • 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.

Branch Choice

Branch Choices let players express themselves actively by making practical decisions. If the player replayed this story, this is the sort of choice they'd want to change.

  • Branch choices and be any number of lines, but always majorly divert the story.

  • Because Branch choices create massive new branches, they are far more rare than Role-Playing choices.

  • Branch choices are still presented as dialogue.

 
 An example of simple story structure (one of many possible) using scenes (as diagramed above). The points at which scenes branch into multiple possible scenes are what we're calling Branch Choice.

An example of simple story structure (one of many possible) using scenes (as diagramed above). The points at which scenes branch into multiple possible scenes are what we're calling Branch Choice.

 

 

Flavor Choice

Role-Playing Choices let player express themselves emotionally by choosing how they feel about what was just said.

  • Usually, each branch of an RP Choice is small (1-10 lines) before recombining.

  • Role-Playing Choices are presented as dialogue.

 An example scene structure as laid out in flowchart software. (draw.io is one good free option for mapping and planning your own stories.) The choice points are RP Choice as they quickly knit and keep the player inside of the same scene.

An example scene structure as laid out in flowchart software. (draw.io is one good free option for mapping and planning your own stories.) The choice points are RP Choice as they quickly knit and keep the player inside of the same scene.

 

Bad Choice Design

The following choice designs should not be used on our platform.

  • Arbitrary Choice
    • A choice in which the player has ZERO information with which to decide something. For example, asking the player to call Mark or Henry when the player has never met those characters and doesn't know the difference.
  • Random Choice
    • A choice that leads to an unreasonable consequence. For example, the choice "Take a shower" should not suddenly lead to a situation in which the plumber mixed up the pipes, the water is now acid, and the character is now dead.
  • Empty Choice
    • Even short RP Choices MUST have a unique effect (even if 2-3 lines) that could not have been seen had the player not chosen it. Often, this is an emotional response
  • Death Obstacle Course
    • Branch Choices should not be used to continually dead-end the player into deaths. You can write stories involving survival, but the player should ultimately feel like they've accomplished something interesting upon gaining an ending (even if it's negative).
  • Variably Ordered Choices
    • Do not write choices where the player must eventually choose both things to progress. For example: The player chooses to visit her mom or her dad. If they visit their mom, they automatically visit the dad after. If they visit the dad, they automatically visit the mom after.

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.

Endings

  • 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
    • Approximately 2-4 Locations
    • Approximately 20-30 Role-Playing Choice points
    • Approximately 4-6 Branch Choice points

 


Basics of Creating Prose

Creating Prose stories on our platform is easy! In the next section you'll learn how to create or migrate your existing prose stories onto our platform and add:

  • Dividers
  • Visuals
  • Comments