When I started reading here I threw myself at some of the top rated storygames. Since I started participating on the forums though, I usually try to rate all the new stories (and review some of them) and I take a look at the storygames in need on the home page and rate some of them. That also means I don't spend time choosing a story to read, I just follow what gets published on the site. Sometimes in times of drought I still go looking for one of the millions of old stories that I haven't read yet. This is just what I personally do though.
Of course I expect good stories from known good authors, so that might make me want to read them before others, if they're published on the same day.
I really don't care much about the title, unless it's fanfiction and refers to something I already know. But most titles are generic so I can't really understand if a story is worth reading by looking at it. Take for example Agent of Order by Mizal, the title itself wasn't that good imo, but the story was.
The description on the contrary is very important in getting to know the story. I normally read through every storygame I click on, but when searching for something to read I have sometimes decided not to read one based on its description, because it didn't seem like the kind of story I'd have enjoyed. That had usually more to do with the content than with the way the description was written though. I can imagine it's not easy to condense what your story is about in a few lines, but it's the same thing that happens when you go buy a book and you read the synopsis on the back first.
I'm not partial to genres on here, but the Fantasy and Sci-fi categories seem to be the ones that attract more guest crowd. As for story lenght, I usually look at the lenght of the game before starting to know how much time I'll have to spend on it. I'll leave long ones on hold when I have to do rl things and come back to them afterwards. Because of these pauses, long ones tend to be rated later than if they were read in a single session but I finish them nonetheless.
The first page quality will set the mood in which I read the story but I always feel obliged to finish it, so I'll just take the quick end and rate it if I really can't go on reading it. The only time I haven't left a rating was because it was a long and difficult quiz that but I didn't want to surrender, so I didn't press the end link that was available.
I feel generally more interested in reading stories from forum members rather than unknown noobs, so any of your names under a story means that I'll be quicker in taking a look at it.
An update thread can be a good way to build a reader base and make other people feel more invested in the story, but of course it shouldn't reveal all beforehand lest it become unnecessary to read the published storygame. There aren't many people that frequently comment on the WW but a known member could probably attract more attention.
Another aspect that I think weighs in for members are contests. On one side they create more publicity around the storygames, on the other if there are many stories published at the same time, some may be ignored.
Reviews are an entirely different matter for me, I may have a skewed logic but I tend to only leave them on new storygames.
I have not reviewed many of the story-games I have read, because I read them before I had an account.
Now that I have one, I have been trying to review everything I read, and I have been trying to read a variety of games written by the active forumers.
I ignore most fanfiction. I either haven't any idea of what the original story was, or I purposefully avoid it out if a fear of reliving those nights spent browsing fanfiction.net and Quotev.
As for individual stories I pick out, I like blood and guts, and I like to laugh.
I know I haven't been on here long, but I believe that you need a good mixture of everything if you want to get good ratings. I imagine it would work like it does offline.
Things like length and genera depends on the person who's reading it, themselves, so I think it's best to write what you want to write in those terms. Even if a lot of people don't read it, at least it's something that you can be proud of and enjoy, yourself. There's also the plus side of the people who do enjoy that genera. (I'm not too picky when it comes to genera, myself.) And if the length scares people, then that's just their personal preference. It's nothing you can change or do anything about. As long as the story is worth reading, I don't believe the length should be taken in account for.
As for the title, it's semi-important, in my opinion. I think the most effective ones or short, catchy, and get to the point. If it's short, then people will see it and read it (perhaps unintentionally ) since it's just there. Not that it takes a lot of time to read a title, but I think that subconsciously, we seek out shorter titles to remember so that we don't "waste time". If it's catchy, then it could cause someone to click on it and read the description. Something like "Fate". Fate is something everyone is familiar of, so they would be interested in what a story could do with it. It's also short, so it sparks that "I can remember you and you might be interesting" phase that people can go through. (Or maybe that's just me? It's a feeling like nostalgia, but not quite? Like a mystery I've seen before, yet I've never experienced it.) Or you could try something like "Nexus". It's a word people don't use often, so it's strikes a mystery inside them once they read it. This would make them curious about the story, itself, and so they would read the description to see what it's about. I've noticed that using names also catches people's attention. "The Fate of the Stalker Mage" isn't as satisfying to read as "The Fate of William Carter". There are also the titles that get to the point. "The Fate of William Carter" gets to the point and tells you that the story is going to be about the fate of William Carter.
Sorry to say, but the description is one of the key parts when writing a story. If the description is interesting, then the story is going to be interesting (most likely). If the description has a lot of errors in it, then the story might be great, but be riddled with errors. Sometimes using a short description will work, but only if it's enticing. Let's take a quote from one of my favorite books, Slaughter House Five. "In the distance, a dog barked." If that were to be the only thing in the description, it might be rather interesting. However, if afterwards, there was more of a description of what the storygame is about, then it might be even more so. What you're doing in a description is trying to convince the reader to read your book in a very passive aggressive way. You're kind of like, "Hey, this book is about this and this" but you're using stuff like imagery and cool-talk to coax them into reading it.
With the writing quality, it's best to be a writer first, a story teller second, and an editor third. By that, I mean you write what you want to write, however you want to write it. Then, you make sure the story is compelling, as a story teller would do. And last, you would go through over and over and over again to check for errors. The best stories aren't written overnight. In fact, it's better to actually sleep on it after finishing it and look at it again the next day to check for more errors.
As for the authors and stuff, on one hand it's kind of sad that a lot of people will flock to the most famous writers when it comes to stories. This happens a lot offline, as well. It makes it very hard for other writers to get their names out there. But on the other hand, it's great that these writers are getting the credit they deserve! (I apologize for seeming wishy-washy.) These guys and gals (and other/both) work hard to get their stuff done and they deserve all of the attention that they get. As said before, I'm new, so I'm not really one of the ones flocking to these famous writers that write on here. But, that's just because I'm not sure if I like their work yet. (I know that sounds strange, but sometimes I don't like the content from the big guys. Like, I don't like nor watch Pewdiepie, but I do enjoy Markiplire and Cryoatic. It's nothing personal, I just didn't enjoy his videos.) That said, I most Likely will look into their work at some point since a lot of people do like them, but I don't want a name to be the only reason why I want to read a storygame.
As for anything extra, I say that you should just keep on writing! Writing is less of a talent and more of a skill. If you practice it more and more, the better you'll become at it. So go ahead and make really poorly described storygames. As long as you're trying to improve that every time you create one, then you're already moving ahead.
Also, try not to beat yourself up over your ratings. I haven't read your story yet, so I don't know where you stand on in skill. That said, you're still going to improve! And if someone doesn't like the way you write, then it's most likely personal preference, and there are going to be people who's person preference is your writing.
Of course, this is just based off of my own personal opinions and experiences. Some of this may be false or may not coincide with what others say about this.