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River's Guide on Writing a Good Post

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RivertheRoyal #1 Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:04 PM

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So, I'll admit I'm writing this for entirely selfish reasons. Lately, there have been quite a few posts being made that upset my sensibilities as an author, and as a reasonable human being.

 

I want to go over how to make a good post that quickly conveys a message in a way people will take seriously, and how not to say stupid stuff in said post. (Bonus points for fancy alliteration.) 

 


Formatting

 

Firstly, one of the most important parts of a good post is formatting—and there are some that falter on this most basic and humble of skills. You know them—the ones who post a wall of text, or do odd things to the layout of said text. Such things often turn people away from whatever you wish to convey in the post, or immediately have them dismiss you. After all, if the OP can't even spare the effort to make their post look good, why should anyone pay attention?

 

Trust me when I say there's an easy fix to such a problem. On your keyboard, there should be a key. That key should say "enter" on it. Amazingly, when you press that key, whatever you're writing drops down a line.

 

This can be useful for separating different points into an easy to read way, giving them clear boundaries while also introducing an artificial pause in the reading. Now, that pause can be very useful in some instances, where you want people to stop for a short second or two, or if you simply want things to look and sound pretty when people are reading the post over.

 

Like now. I had finished the points I wanted to make in the last paragraph, so I hit the enter key twice and dropped down to start a new one. It prevents the post from taking on a 'wall-of-text' feel, while also making it easier to understand and read.

 

And when you're done with an entire section of points which are related to each other, and need to move on to the next big idea, either drop down a bit further, or introduce a divider element to the post. For shorter posts, I'd recommend just dropping down two lines, but for something like this, it's helpful to visually divide one section from another. I accomplish that like this:

 


 

Now, onto my next topic! 

 

Grammar

 

I won't wax lyrical on why proper grammar is important, because I'm pretty sure everyone understands or at least has heard that speech before. Instead, I'll tell you what grammar can do for you!

 

First off, proper usage of grammar makes you sound good, and has people taking you seriously from the get-go. When I see a post missing capitalization, punctuation and such; I cringe a little. It immediately tells me that this person must have not put much thought, time, or effort into their post. Proper grammar will have people reading your post, and thinking about the points you make instead of "oh, there should be a comma there, oh, that's hideously misspelled, oh, that should be I, not i...." and so on, so on.

Really, proper grammar is proper etiquette. Just as poor manners at a black-tie event will get you called a bumpkin and lessen other's opinion of you, poor grammar will have your readers think lesser of you.

 

Now, how do you improve grammar? Well, there's no easy way about it. You have to read.  *Gasps of horror*

No, really. Just read a book every now and then, and take note of how things are written. Then, whenever you find yourself writing something, take a step back and think about how it could be improved. Authors call this process editing, and pretty much all of them do it. I know that once I finish writing this helpful little guide, I'll go back over it—combing for grammatical errors, awkward turns of phrase, and the ever present spelling mistake. And it's even more likely that there will still be something wrong that I missed.

 


 

Word Choice

 

Word choice is an oft discounted, but extremely important part of writing. And there's only one thing I can say about it. As long as the words are not overtly inflammatory, nor vitriolic in nature, stick with what you know.

 

Too many times I've seen someone misuse a word pulled from a thesaurus in an attempt to sound smart. Hint: It doesn't work. If you can't think of a fitting word off the top of your head, use another. There's nothing saying that the vocabulary you have right now is inadequate. As long as you can articulate your message in an understandable way, everything is fine.

 

But for those who want to add that little extra something special, and brutalize others with a massive vocabulary, well. Read more. That's how you grow your vocabulary list. I'm sure you've noticed how many big and not-so-well-known words I've used while writing this. That's just down to years of devouring every book thrown my way.

 

So, in other words, don't use a thesaurus. Don't try to insert smart sounding words to sound smart. Instead, actually get smarter and learn while reading.

 


 

Writing Style

 

This is what I like to call "The Product".

It's what comes from the other three points discussed thus far. Formatting, grammar and word choice come together to form a writing style that distinguishes you in some way or another. A lot of writers are vaunted for their unique and different writing styles. However, that doesn't mean that you have to develop something which separates you from the crowd.

 

No, writing style is just the natural off-spring of everything else. It does have an impact on whatever you write though, in the same way your speech patterns change how you interact with people. Sometimes it can be antagonistic in nature, or humorous in other cases. My own writing style is a fine blend of pointed sarcasm, humor, and what I hope is intelligence.

 

If for any reason you find that people are responding badly to something you've written, ask yourself if it might be the writing style. If you write very aggressively, then people might respond by getting defensive. If you write poorly, people might not take you seriously. Just stuff like that.

 

Now, you can change your writing style. It's sometimes employed as a literary technique by authors to portray the different personalities of various characters, or changes in environment and setting.

Unfortunately, changing your writing style requires you to be as objective as possible, to not be biased towards your words. It might be helpful to get a second opinion on the initial style, and some advice as to how it might be changed in a different direction. As I'm not an expert in such things, I'll refrain from outlining exact ways of accomplishing it.

 



       

How to not be stupid. 

 

Congratulations. You can now write a somewhat cohesive and good looking post. However, there might still be a problem.

 

The contents.

 

It doesn't matter how good of a post you write, someone will think otherwise. To be human is to have opinions, and someone is certainly going to have one different from your own. I have my own opinions on right and wrong, and I occasionally blast someone I perceive for being a dummkopf.

 

Now, there are some rules to writing a post which will not end in a typed screaming match. At least, these are the rule I try to use. Generally, they've worked out well.

 

1. Think before posting— "Is this really a good idea?" "What's the popular response going to be?" "Have there been other threads like this?" "How did they end?" Just stuff like this. Consider deeply whether it's a good idea to hit that Post New Topic button.

 

2. Be understanding— If people are demonstrating an opinion different from your own, wonder why they have they opinion. Don't automatically think that you are in the right.

 

3. Be humble— Otherwise, be ready for others to take a dump all over your post. Nobody likes a braggart.

 

4. Research— If you aren't sure something's true, then it might not be. Make sure that you've researched all your content for consistency's sake.  

 

5. Never assume— The snakes will come out of the woodworks to prove just how wrong you are.

 

6. Be patient— Really. Like, really really. Nothing is accomplished by going off the rails at someone, even if it feels good.

 

7. Be helpful— Ask yourself, "what does this post add to the community?" If you don't have an answer, don't post it.

 

 

These rules can also be applied to replies or comments after the initial post. In fact, they should be. You've all probably seen a thread that starts out well, then just implodes due to the things being said in the comments. Exercise these rules in that case. And whatever else you do, at least try to be nice, okay?

Otherwise, I will become cross, and annoyed River is not a happy River. 

 


 

If you're reading this in order to better your writing skills, then I hope you've found this guide even the slightest bit helpful. If you're still struggling, I highly recommend checking out some of LittleWhiteMouse's ships reviews. Those are all great examples of a fantastic post, and demonstrates most of what I mentioned in the above post.    

 

If you're reading this because it looked interesting and there was no other new topics, then I have an idea.

Post a link to this thread when you think someone else can benefit from it.

I would like to see this community become better writers, one and all. 

 

 

 

TL;DR—Really? Put in a bit of effort man. Or watch this. It's what happens when you don't english right. 

Credit to Macabe for suggesting it, and Weird Al for the OC. 


Edited by RivertheRoyal, 07 March 2017 - 04:20 PM.


Macabe #2 Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:07 PM

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View PostMacabe, on 05 March 2017 - 03:06 PM, said:

I request the following be included in the OP as comic yet still serious relief.

 

 


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Mister_Rawr #3 Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:16 PM

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If only there were a way to up-vote twice.  

 

Or two hundred times.  

 

May we pin it, please?

 

-R



Doomlock #4 Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:21 PM

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And if your post is including a lot of pictures and you're not planning to use spoilers (Ahem, me) then tell people as such. That's the very reason my picture posts are marked image heavy, I don't want my pictures hidden from view when one is looking at the post, thus I tell people, "Hey there are a lot of images in this post, so if your internet connection can't handle it, then don't view."

 

Also good post! :great: +1


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Colber #5 Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:25 PM

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you just lost 90% of the forum users after line 4 ... short attention span and all ...  nice post tho.

RivertheRoyal #6 Posted 05 March 2017 - 11:54 PM

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View PostColber, on 05 March 2017 - 05:25 PM, said:

you just lost 90% of the forum users after line 4 ... short attention span and all ...  nice post tho.

 

Most forum users won't care about this anyway. It's really only meant to help those who have trouble understanding what they're doing wrong in their posts, and why writing well and a good attitude can help them.  

SireneRacker #7 Posted 06 March 2017 - 08:21 PM

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Let's look...

 

Formatting? Easy, check.

Grammar? According to my teacher that's my weakest point. Well...

Word choice? Wrong language for that. In german you can at least combine words like crazy without making a mistake. English doesn't allow for that.

Writing style? English teacher loves my style. So check.

 

Also: *notes new words just to annoy my english teacher* Thanks for these words. I'll add them to my 'will use them once the time arrives'-list


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desmo_2 #8 Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:07 AM

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Brilliant.  I loved it, read it twice, and up-voted once (because 10,000 times is apparently not allowed).  LOL'd a few times.  I even watched the linked video and gained a new respect for Weird Al...and have a new Weird Al favorite track (he has had a few good ones, but none on this level).

 

If you speak the English language, you really should learn to write with it.  I'm not even talking about scholar levels of writing ability...just don't make yourself look like a complete idiot when you write.  Nothing can make an intelligent person look stupider (irony intended) than poorly written text.



HMCS_Devilfish #9 Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:13 AM

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I was under the impression that the first rule of posting is never write a post on .... how to post

desmo_2 #10 Posted 07 March 2017 - 01:33 AM

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View PostHMCS_Devilfish, on 06 March 2017 - 07:13 PM, said:

I was under the impression that the first rule of posting is never write a post on .... how to post

 

I would say you are apparently new here...but I know better.

 

You know this post is valid...and should be required reading!  :D



CrazyHorse_Denver #11 Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:03 AM

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I see we have a future high school English teacher in the making.:ohmy:

Good luck with the lessons...most of us get into bad writing habits early on and for whatever reasons refuse to change.


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delp5117 #12 Posted 07 March 2017 - 03:18 AM

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Where are the bullet points about how to hijack posts? I must have missed that...

RivertheRoyal #13 Posted 07 March 2017 - 04:56 AM

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View PostCrazyHorse_Denver, on 06 March 2017 - 09:03 PM, said:

I see we have a future high school English teacher in the making.:ohmy:

Good luck with the lessons...most of us get into bad writing habits early on and for whatever reasons refuse to change.

 

Ack no, I hate teaching. Too many people unwilling to learn. At least here, I don't have to see those people. 

 

View Postdelp5117, on 06 March 2017 - 09:18 PM, said:

Where are the bullet points about how to hijack posts? I must have missed that...

 

I haven't the foggiest idea about that which you speak of.... 

See, I'm innocent! I swear! 

 



_Rumple_ #14 Posted 07 March 2017 - 09:04 AM

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It's not proper grammar; instead try 'proper use of grammar.'


LittleWhiteMouse #15 Posted 07 March 2017 - 10:40 AM

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Gud Poast.

 

I'm an aspiring writer (she says, still unhappy with her own work). I've always looked at good punctuation and grammar as the equivalent of proper hygiene online.  People who can't be bothered to try and spell correctly or use proper grammar remind me very much of those who present themselves slovenly in person.  However, I don't see it as my job to correct people.  Lord knows I slip up all of the time.  All we can do is aspire to communicate and present ourselves in the best light possible in the vain hope of communicating with one another.  Still, when someone points out my mistakes, I try and take with the same embarrassed grace that I might if someone told me I had something green stuck between my teeth -- with a look of abject horror and squeaking a meek 'thank you' as I quickly go correct the problem.


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RivertheRoyal #16 Posted 07 March 2017 - 04:20 PM

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View Post_Rumple_, on 07 March 2017 - 03:04 AM, said:

It's not proper grammar; instead try 'proper use of grammar.'

 

Proper use of grammar dictates the using of said grammar, whereas the words 'proper grammar' dictates the overarching theme of good grammar. In most cases, both are interchangeably used in sentences, since they both work. Admittedly, there are times when the former works better than the later, and I did miss one of those cases in the OP. I apologize. Like I said, there's going to be things that I've missed, even after editing.       

Wowzery #17 Posted 07 March 2017 - 09:53 PM

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My biggest problem is my mind goes faster than I write so as a result I miss words and if I don't proofread I miss things.  Or I change my thought process in the middle of a sentence and don't go back and change things and as a result the sentence makes no sense (usually see that after posting).

bassmasta76 #18 Posted 07 March 2017 - 10:36 PM

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Well put OP.  If I knew how to up vote on mobile (not sure if you can...), I certainly would.  

I also agree that this post should be "stuck", or perhaps referenced by the "read this before you post" sticky.

Regarding punctuation... I'll admit that I'm lazy in this regard, but largely because I post via the mobile site (and I hate having to stop and find which button to long press for apostrophes and such).

Anyway, well done.

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Fishrokk #19 Posted 10 March 2017 - 12:52 AM

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You.  Win.  The WoWs Forum.

 

View PostLittleWhiteMouse, on 07 March 2017 - 02:40 AM, said:

I'm an aspiring writer (she says, still unhappy with her own work).

 

You just ticked off one of the required boxes to be considered a writer in the parentheses there.


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RivertheRoyal #20 Posted 10 March 2017 - 01:45 AM

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View PostFishrokk, on 09 March 2017 - 06:52 PM, said:

You.  Win.  The WoWs Forum.

View PostLittleWhiteMouse, on 07 March 2017 - 04:40 AM, said:

I'm an aspiring writer (she says, still unhappy with her own work).

 

You just ticked off one of the required boxes to be considered a writer in the parentheses there.

 

Not quite sure I've won anything, really, but thanks. 

 

And you're completely right about the general requirements to become a writer. One is to never be satisfied with your own work. The others are something like—no more than one good plot twist, two main character deaths, three detailed sex scenes, four calling birds, five gold rings, six geese a-laying, seven swans....well, you get the point. (Never mind the details.)  

 

The fact that you aren't satisfied with your work only means that you know it can get better, always. Now, the frustrating bit is finding your faults and correcting them, but that's a natural process that comes with experience.

I think.

I really haven't been a 'writer' long enough to say for certain.     







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