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Style Guide for Writing

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Okay, pasta writers everywhere, it's become apparent that some are not following the rules about posting and getting feedback. A number of which have failed to follow basic grammar, capitalization, and punctuation rules. This is a wiki that contains all manner of scary stories, so people are going to read these things. To not use proper grammar and spelling is disappointing and something that we take pretty seriously around here. So, I have created a list of rules for writing. Even if you consider yourself the Grand Poobah of storywriting, there is always room for improvement no matter your skill level. So read on, and hopefully you might glean some helpful pointers to help you with your writing.


Capitalize Your Titles

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This has been explained before, so I will repeat myself for a final time. Read some book titles (Google it if you really have to) and learn how to properly capitalize them. Some words are iffy and aren't always capitalized, but usually you can get away with capitalizing them regardless. NOUNS and VERBS really need to be capitalized in titles, along with the FIRST and LAST words (always, no matter what) in titles. Furthermore, DO NOT ADD A PERIOD AT THE END OF A TITLE. It isn't a statement, it's a title. Question marks and Exclamation points are fine to use, however. (TL;DR: http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=How+to+capitalize+titles)

Capitalize Your Sentences

This should be clear to anyone who has ever had an English class in their life, or who has ever had to write an essay. As clear as possible:

  1. Capitalize the first word of a sentence.
  2. Capitalize the first word inside a quotation if it is something someone is saying. (Bob said, "When are we going?")
  3. If your quotation ends in a question mark or exclamation point, do NOT capitalize the word that follows it if it is still part of the same sentence. If your sentence does not end at the quote, do no capitalize after it ("Wow!" he said with a gasp.)
    • EXCEPTION: When the quotation is split by a speaker action and continued in the same sentence, then do not capitalize the second half. ("Mother, you know," said Bob, pausing to point at the table, "there are no cats allowed on the table.")
  4. Capitalize the word "I"! There's no reason to ever not capitalize "I" when referring to yourself. I'd, I've, I'm. You're the most important person, so that's why you capitalize I.
  5. "I" isn't the only important thing to be capitalized. Proper nouns (specific places, titles, names, etc.) always get capitalized too.

Do Not Capitalize Like This

Do not under any circumstances capitalize the first letter of every word of any amount of sentences. That's called using the Title Case, and it is not an acceptable style/method of writing.

Fun with Punctuations!

  1. Put a space after your punctuation! This is a critical writing ability. After every punctuation mark (comma, semicolon, colon, period, exclamation point, and question mark) put a space. No exceptions.
  2. Spaces after the end of sentences! The standard is ONE space after a sentence, but it's okay to use two. Just never use no spaces at all.
  3. Use a COMMA to end a sentence in a quote if there is more after it. ("I love you," he said with a smile.)
  4. Use a PERIOD to end a sentence in a quote if it is the end of the sentence. (He looked at her, smiled, and said, "I love you.")
  5. Periods go inside the quotation marks.
  6. Commas go inside the quotation marks.
  7. Question marks go inside the quotation marks if it belongs in the quote. (Bill said, "Where are we going?")
  8. Question marks go outside the quotation marks if it belongs to the part of the sentence outside of the quotation. (Have you ever wondered about the people called "nerds"?)
  9. If you're quoting or putting air quotes around something inside of quotation marks, use a singe quote mark around the quote. ("And then I used the 'spray gun' on him," he said.)
  10. When quoted material runs more than one paragraph, start each new paragraph with opening quotation marks, but do not use closing quotation marks until the speaker is finished.

Paragraphs!

You use paragraphs (breaking up the text onto a new line) in the following instances:

  1. After someone speaks.
  2. Changing speakers.
  3. Transitioning from one subject to the next. (Talking about a murderer and then talking about something else.)
  4. To break up long parts of text based on idea transitioning. (When writing a long bit about one thing, make new paragraphs to emphasize different parts of that one bit..

Pro-Tips

  1. Avoid using ellipses (...) instead of spaces either between words or between sentences. Ellipses, in general, should be used sparingly, as the frequent use of them makes your writing look melodramatic.
  2. If you start a sentence with a word that begins with an apostrophe to show abbreviation, you do not need to capitalize that word. ("'ello and welcome," he said.)
  3. If you want to add emphasis to a word, instead of writing it IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, try using italics instead. It's the professional and less eye-gouging way to add emphasis to a word or phrase. The quick and dirty way to do it on any wiki is to just type two apostrophes around the word or words you wish to emphasize.
  4. Avoid Run-ons and Comma Splices at all costs, they are terrible things. (Like what I just did in that sentence.)
  5. Do not under any circumstance use "of" instead of "have" like in should have, would have, could have. Should've, could've, would've, et al. all sound like "should of," but they are all abbreviations for should have, etc.

Common Errors

Misused Words

  1. There/Their/They're
    • There - Where; a location.
    • Their - Belongs to them.
    • They're - "They are"
  2. Your/You're
    • Your - Belongs to you
    • You're - "You are"
  3. Its/It's
    • Its - Belongs to it
    • It's - "It is"
  4. Were/We're
    • Were - aka "was" or "to be"
    • We're - We are

Tense

  1. When writing in PAST or PRESENT tense, ALWAYS keep the tense the same throughout the entire story unless it is what the character is saying.
  2. Point of View: Always keep the point of view consistent throughout your story.
  3. 1st, 2nd, 3rd
    • 1st Person: Told through the eyes of ONE character. Uses "I" and "me" to narrate.
    • 2nd Person: Talks directly to the reader. Uses "you" when narrating.
    • 3rd Person: Told as if someone were narrating what was happening. Uses "he/she/they" and "his/hers/their"

Fragment Sentences

  1. A complete sentence consists of a subject and a verb. (The wind blows.)
  2. A fragment lacks a verb (The wind blowing.), lacks a subject (And blows.), or is a subordinate clause that is not attached to a complete sentence (Because the wind blows.)
    • Be aware that though this is true, commands can seem like fragments. (Continue reading.). Declarative sentences like this have an understood YOU at the beginning of them. (YOU continue reading.)

Comma Splices/Fused Sentences

  1. Combining two main clauses (splicing them together) with a comma.
    • The ship was huge, its mast stood eighty feet high.
  2. Fusing main clauses together without using punctuation or coordinating conjunction between main clauses.
    • The ship was huge its mast stood eighty feet high.
  3. Fixing the spliced/fused sentence.
  4. Use a period to separate the main clauses.
    • The ship was huge. Its mast stood eighty feet high.
  5. Use a semicolon.
    • The ship was huge; its mast stood eighty feet high.
  6. Use a comma preceeding a coordinating conjuction.
    • The ship was huge, and its mast stood eighty feet high.
  7. With a colon when the second clause explains the first.
    • The ship was huge: its mast stood eighty feet high.

Misplaced Modifiers

  1. A modifier is misplaced if readers cannot easily relate it to the word it aims to modify.
    • He served steak to the men on paper plates.
    • Many dogs are killed by automobiles and trucks roaming unleashed.
  2. A limiting modifier modifying something improperly. (Limiting modifiers include almost, even, exactly, hardly, just, merely, nearly, only, and simply.)
    • She only found that fossil on her last dig
    • She found only that fossil on her last dig. (Fixed)

Off-site Guides

See also

Disclaimer

In the event you write, upload, or transmit via any means a story, page, blog post, or article about a subject matter that is determined, at an admin's discretion, to be 1) in a highly clichéd genre/category/subject and 2) poorly written, clichéd, generic, or terrible in general, then the admins are free at their discretion and leisure to delete the page at any time without warning or recourse on their part.

The admins, editors, and any members associated with this site are not and will never be responsible or liable for any loss of data or stories that happen on this site for any reason or in any manner they may occur. All content is licensed under CC-BY-SA except where otherwise noted.

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