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River's Guide on Writing a Good Post

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CorvusBB39 #21 Posted 11 March 2017 - 10:39 PM

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View PostLittleWhiteMouse, on 07 March 2017 - 03:40 AM, said:

Gud Poast.

 

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

 

Crafts(wo)men and artists are always unsatisfied with their efforts.

 

Art is never finished, only abandoned.  --Leonardo

 

Just keep banging the rocks together.



DaryaKonstantin #22 Posted 18 March 2017 - 06:16 AM

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View PostRivertheRoyal, on 05 March 2017 - 06:04 PM, said:

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. 

 

Well said River, this should be required for aspiring forum posters when they first arrive. As a part-time published fiction...and fan-fiction...author (note: fiction, which should put most of my personal posts in perspective, despite me now realizing their flaws), you pretty much hit the nail on the head. So too add some general knowledge to all this:

 

- Sorry aspiring author's, if you can't be bothered to format correctly, why would we be bothered to read it? Furthermore, not all sites have compatible formatting, and you need to comb through the entire document after a transfer. To use a personal example, Google Docs has somewhat different formatting then Fanfiction.net. Thus, after finishing a chapter and copying it over, I go through it another 2-3 times to make sure I have all the formats correct. After the title, the formatting is the first big thing that stands out to readers. We are often turned off before even starting in when we open it to see a wall of text, as it's hard on the eyes and hard to follow. So, not matter what you're dealing with, understand the formatting issues you're likely to run into with any given site, especially this one.

 

- Honestly, there's not much to say on grammar. I hate to say it like this, but grammar is the most mathematical part of writing. It's cut and dry, black and white. There is mediocre formatting and word choices. Those are possible. There is no mediocre grammar. You either are using correct grammar or not for any given sentence. And to talk from personal experience, like mathematics, the best (unfortunately) way to learn grammar is to pound it into your head for so long that you instinctively write with almost perfect grammar. It's awful and painful, but really is the most expedient way.

 

- Word choice. Oh word choice. I could write a whole essay on it. River is right. If you can't think up a proper word off the top of your head, opening a thesaurus IS NOT the proper answer. Don't like your limited vocabulary? Read. Fun fact: the more you read, the faster you get at it. Doesn't really matter what. Newspapers, Magazines, Books, Fanfiction (though if you do this, stick to only the most popular or your IQ may suffer, and I wouldn't recommend this, but it's better than nothing). Look, I read all the time as a child, and now as a young adult I can read close to two hundred pages an hour at full tilt. I read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in an afternoon waiting on jury duty. That amazing novel (not for the faint of heart at well over 800 pages) is also the origin of my username, if anyone was curious.

 

Having a huge vocabulary is a double-edged sword. It's fun to know all these large and sometimes archaic words, yes, but it's not so fun when you unintentionally alienate your peers and friends because you can't help talking circles around them. It's not fun when you're constantly pausing, trying to find a smaller word to use. It's not fun having to constantly stop to define a word to your audience because you couldn't find said smaller word because you spent too much time with the big ones.

 

"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood." - William Penn

 

And if you know what ostentation is without looking it up, you don't really need this post. But that's the point! It's the one word you don't know. The rest, in smaller and perfectly fine words, gets the real point across. The only time you should open a thesaurus is if you find yourself using the same adjectives or (ad)verbs over and over and it reads oddly. Don't worry about your vocabulary too terribly much unless you find yourself using the same words over and over with little or no alterations.

 

- River, I'm afraid I must slightly disagree on writing style. It is indeed a combination of the other three, and it develops naturally over time. It's an evolution, and doesn't really change significantly on your own. Like River said, it's similar to your speech pattern in that sense (and in actual words, though people tend to write a bit more eloquently than they speak). It's almost impossible to change on your own on short notice. If you want to change it, you have to get someone you can handle getting harsh criticism from for an extended period of time and is actually a competent writer to proof-read. From there, they can work with you to change your style permanently (slowly, this is a long process). A short shift for literary tactics is advanced material River, I'm not sure why you brought it up. :hiding:

 

But really, doing a style shift is well beyond your level if you're actually reading this to improve from basics (and good on you if you are!). Just totally ignore that mention for some time as it will just mess you up.

 

-And now for the most important rule of any forum anywhere, bolded in large font for your convenience:

 

If you cannot handle, in a mature and logical manner, someone having a different opinion on any given topic, then keep your opinion to yourself and DO NOT POST.

 

This makes sense, right? You have an opinion. Everyone else does too. Some have the same opinion, others do not. Before posting, ask yourself: "Will any argument sway my opinion on this topic?" If the answer is "No," then do not post. There is no point and it simply will become a cycle of mockery on both sides. Unless you're a troll and that's your goal, in which case, excuse my language, you can go f*** yourself with a rusty knife.

 

And on that topic, a PSA: No one likes the person that posts a rage and then calls everyone else names for disagreeing. Sure, they shouldn't be mocking the poster, that makes them just as bad. But the poster just can't settle down, inflamed by what seems to be nobody caring and willing to listen. If it's an obvious troll, then don't bait. But someone who's just having a bad day shouldn't be merciless vilified for a single bad decision. Encourage them to discuss it slowly and work some logic through them. Most people on here are at least somewhat rational (due to the on average older player base compared to the other big WG title), and you can slowly talk them down (or at least run some level of damage control) by simply being nice and lending an ear.

 

Take this as a supplement to River's original topic, and you'll be writing good posts in no time at all! :B


Battleships: Bismark, TirpitzScharnhorst, Gneisenau, Warspite, Dunkerque, Fuso, New York, Ishizuchi, All ARP Kongo-class

Cruisers: Atago, Belfast, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Schors, Graf Spee, Duca D'Aosta, Leander, Aoba, Omaha, Murmansk, Konigsberg, Duguay-Trouin, Emden, All ARP Myoko-class, Southern Dragon, ARP Takao

Destroyers: Tashkent, Ognevoi, Benson, Lo Yang, Sims, Blyskawica, Ashan,  Fubuki, Kamikaze, Minekaze, T-22

Carriers: Saipan (worst decision ever), Zuiho, Langely


Capt_of_Satisfaction #23 Posted 23 March 2017 - 01:48 PM

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Great post, River.  Well done.

It is probably true however, that the only people interested in your piece will be those that actually care about such things, few as they are.

To those, good on you!

The trolls that TL;dr either didn't click on it, or rolled their eyes back and left mid way through the second sentence.  

I agree though, that artists are not usually satisfied.  I am an artist and I am rarely satisfied at the end of any piece, but you learn to force yourself to finish or you'll go crazy. 

Somehow addressing intelligence, or R.I.F., or anything that strengthens the mind and learning is not in fashion these days.  Just saying.  



Aorangi #24 Posted 29 March 2017 - 05:50 PM

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Like a few others on this thread, I am also aspiring to be a writer, though I will admit, I am sucking at it.

Good work on this and thank you for the tips. I think I will be bookmarking this thread for future reference.
 


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SgtSullyC3 #25 Posted 31 March 2017 - 12:11 AM

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Very nice post. Also an interesting read, +1.

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SwampFox02 #26 Posted 02 April 2017 - 02:29 PM

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A good post.

The guidance that you published can be used for any forum or any other written communication. To often individuals are in a hurry to fire off that text or email and do not read what they typed. Or they have not taken into consideration how the communication will be interpreted. That is however a reflection of our times.


Edited by SwampFox02, 02 April 2017 - 02:30 PM.


Capt_of_Satisfaction #27 Posted 03 April 2017 - 02:08 PM

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Very good post.

 

There's an old adage, "Life begins at forty," to which many authors will tell you, "Writing begins at forty."  The adage refers to life experience and gained wisdom which tends to help, for obvious reasons.  I think this adage is very apropos with respect to novels.  To that point I can personally attest.  But writing, if the author has scruples can be scary and intimidating. 

The pen is mightier than the sword.  Now there's an adage that has teeth.  

 

I doubt there are a ton of aspiring writers here on the WoW forum, but certainly there are some.  But there are some really nice BBs for those interested. A quick Google search will get you to some fine boards.

This is from the New Yorker today:

 

 

The Story Behind the Novel

Where do novels come from? Great ones seem almost miraculous; it’s amazing to think that each rich world was created within a single mind. This week, we bring you stories about novelists and their imaginative work. Hilton Als shows us how Toni Morrison wrote “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved”; Larissa MacFarquhar ventures into the haunted, historical universe of Hilary Mantel. Thomas Mallon chronicles the making of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” while Margaret Talbot explores the passions behind Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt,” which was adapted into the film “Carol.” Finally, Louis Menand unearths the history and politics behind Richard Condon’s “The Manchurian Candidate,” and Anthony Burgess himself, in an essay originally written in 1973, explains how he came up with the idea for “A Clockwork Orange.” A novel, Burgess writes, might be inspired by an “uncontainable concern or anger with something taking place in the real world.” Novelists, in other words, do more than invent and fantasize. They try to see reality more clearly than the rest of us.

—David Remnick

 



Lillehuntrix #28 Posted 03 April 2017 - 02:49 PM

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Great post, River, and good additions everyone (Darya in particular).

 

All I will add is that one factor that separates real world published books and articles from, for example, most student writing is editing.  A published book with an established press (that is, not a P2P self-publication house) has usually been read through beginning to end 3-4 times by the author him/herself after the initial draft, and read through as well by several other people in the course of publication, during which scrutiny errors are caught and corrections made.  Very few people write absolutely perfect first drafts.

 

Now, of course, no one is going to bother to subject an online post to anything approaching this process, but it never hurts to re-read what you just wrote and catch any blatant mistakes.  That is what the edit button is for, after all.



tutty29 #29 Posted 04 April 2017 - 02:33 PM

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+1 for Weird Al (and also for all that good advice stuff)

 

If only the people that need to read this post actually would...



Wowzery #30 Posted 04 April 2017 - 03:13 PM

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I don't know, but lately I'm seeing more and more people just type words with no punctuation at all.

 

looks like this and there is no way to tell where a sentence ends or begins and nothing to identify where an idea ends or begins its quite annoying to tell the truth and lazy in my opinion they can't seem to find the punctuation at all

I'm seeing it everywhere lately, from comments, FB, and more, whole paragraphs like that.  Twitter, well, I almost expect it there due to the lack of space one can use, or texts, but that's a different set of rules.



RivertheRoyal #31 Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:05 AM

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View PostWowzery, on 04 April 2017 - 10:13 AM, said:

I don't know, but lately I'm seeing more and more people just type words with no punctuation at all.

 

looks like this and there is no way to tell where a sentence ends or begins and nothing to identify where an idea ends or begins its quite annoying to tell the truth and lazy in my opinion they can't seem to find the punctuation at all

I'm seeing it everywhere lately, from comments, FB, and more, whole paragraphs like that.  Twitter, well, I almost expect it there due to the lack of space one can use, or texts, but that's a different set of rules.

 

It's quite sad, as truly great punctuation makes a good point that much more potent. It's even sadder, since it's becoming more and more widely accepted for some reason. Hell, I have a college professor who sent me this email:  

 

Block Quote

TGIF all,

 

Please remember that u r to record your HBA Data AFTER/OUTCOME. Since i did not remind u all yesterday, i ask that u begin tomorrow /Saturday as day 1.

 

You r to repeat the recording SAT(Day 1)- the Following FRI(Day 7) recording in all categories as u did with Baseline or BEFORE data. PLEASE BE VERY DETAILED AND CAREFUL in record keeping. This project is 1/3 your grade.

 

I had a freaking heart attack as both an english major, and as an author when seeing this. From a college professor.

The fallout is that I now have no respect for this person, nor do I think I'll ever have any. 

 

Write well, people. It counts for more than you'd think.  



Wowzery #32 Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:18 AM

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View PostRivertheRoyal, on 04 April 2017 - 06:05 PM, said:

I had a freaking heart attack as both an english major, and as an author when seeing this. From a college professor.

 

The fallout is that I now have no respect for this person, nor do I think I'll ever have any.

 

I don't like it when people us 'u' for you or 2 for to.  That was old school texting, no need for it anymore.  I also write, keep up my own story website, mostly fanfiction and such that I enjoy writing, plus original stuff.

DaryaKonstantin #33 Posted 05 April 2017 - 03:38 AM

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View PostRivertheRoyal, on 04 April 2017 - 07:05 PM, said:

I had a freaking heart attack as both an english major, and as an author when seeing this. From a college professor.

The fallout is that I now have no respect for this person, nor do I think I'll ever have any. 

 

Write well, people. It counts for more than you'd think.  

 

It's a sad fact of society that even those who should know better can fall prey the seemingly rapidly declining IQ of the average human. Frankly River, I generally agree with your assessment. Such a teacher who seems to be unable to act professionally within their job doesn't deserve full respect.  However, respect need not be universal or contiguous. From the contents of the email you provided, the teacher seems to teach mathematics or the sciences of some sort. While this hardly excuses the bad writing, it sometimes happens that teachers attempt to use what they think is modern and hip terminology in an attempt to connect with students with it coming off terribly, that doesn't mean you can't give the teacher some credit for their field. Or basically this quote.

 

"A specialist is a man who knows more and more about less and less." - William J. Mayo

 

But overall, yes, writing well is one of the most important skills in modern society. And it is increasingly creating a disparity between those with a solid backing in the English language and those who do not. When people barely have fluency in their primary (and often singular) language, it points towards a slow decline of society. But then, nothing but death lasts forever, and all societies fall and are replaced. I only wish I was watching society advance instead of decline, but when life gives you lemons...

Spoiler

 


Battleships: Bismark, TirpitzScharnhorst, Gneisenau, Warspite, Dunkerque, Fuso, New York, Ishizuchi, All ARP Kongo-class

Cruisers: Atago, Belfast, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Schors, Graf Spee, Duca D'Aosta, Leander, Aoba, Omaha, Murmansk, Konigsberg, Duguay-Trouin, Emden, All ARP Myoko-class, Southern Dragon, ARP Takao

Destroyers: Tashkent, Ognevoi, Benson, Lo Yang, Sims, Blyskawica, Ashan,  Fubuki, Kamikaze, Minekaze, T-22

Carriers: Saipan (worst decision ever), Zuiho, Langely


RivertheRoyal #34 Posted 05 April 2017 - 03:58 AM

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View PostDaryaKonstantin, on 04 April 2017 - 10:38 PM, said:

 

It's a sad fact of society that even those who should know better can fall prey the seemingly rapidly declining IQ of the average human. Frankly River, I generally agree with your assessment. Such a teacher who seems to be unable to act professionally within their job doesn't deserve full respect.  However, respect need not be universal or contiguous. From the contents of the email you provided, the teacher seems to teach mathematics or the sciences of some sort. While this hardly excuses the bad writing, it sometimes happens that teachers attempt to use what they think is modern and hip terminology in an attempt to connect with students with it coming off terribly, that doesn't mean you can't give the teacher some credit for their field. Or basically this quote.

 

"A specialist is a man who knows more and more about less and less." - William J. Mayo

 

But overall, yes, writing well is one of the most important skills in modern society. And it is increasingly creating a disparity between those with a solid backing in the English language and those who do not. When people barely have fluency in their primary (and often singular) language, it points towards a slow decline of society. But then, nothing but death lasts forever, and all societies fall and are replaced. I only wish I was watching society advance instead of decline, but when life gives you lemons...

Spoiler

 

 

Nutrition, actually. I'll be honest here—I have many reasons to dislike that class, and it's teacher. 

 

However, I just can't take it seriously now. And it's because of the writing. 

As was stating in my OP, how you write will often determine how others view you, and the validity of your message. One of the things oft parroted in that class is the importance of our own writing skills, and how writing will serve you well no matter which discipline. How am I supposed to see that statement, coming from this professor? 

Again, being blunt—I simply cannot view this professor as being quite on the same level as other teachers now. 

Don't worry though. I've already scheduled a meeting with this person, as this is simply one problem among many that I need to get off my chest once and for all. It should be an interesting conversation—for both sides. I only wished to share a real life example of how poor writing can lead to...dissatisfaction on some sides. 

 

 

Anyway, speaking to the larger audience now, do you see why neglecting your writing skills can lead to people not taking your points seriously, or simply viewing you as lesser? It's a skill whose importance absolutely cannot be overstated.   

   



CorvusBB39 #35 Posted 06 April 2017 - 06:40 PM

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View PostRivertheRoyal, on 04 April 2017 - 05:05 PM, said:

 

It's quite sad, as truly great punctuation makes a good point that much more potent. It's even sadder, since it's becoming more and more widely accepted for some reason.

 

True, that.  A long time ago I used to volunteer for Recordings for the Blind which would read text books for folks taking courses who could not read them (or especially for college students, had motor issues turning all those pages an 18-credits quarter takes).  Unlike audio books, there was no rehearsal or polishing; these were done quick and dirty to get the recordings back to the requester in time before the course ended.  The recording would be done by a team of two, one the voice reading the text and the other following on their own text (to catch mistakes) and running the recorder.

 

When you're the reader, you're constantly jumping ahead a half-paragraph or so to see where the author is going, then back to where you're actually reading so you don't make those mistakes.  Even with professional editing and punctuation, the ease with which this could be done varied greatly.  Some authors (bless them) this was remarkably easy; rarely would you be setting up your tone or syllable emphasis at a sentence's end only to be left in the lurch when it took off in a direction unexpected.  Others, not so much; you had no idea where a sentence was going until it got there.



alert1 #36 Posted 09 May 2017 - 06:40 AM

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View PostRivertheRoyal, on 05 March 2017 - 11:04 PM, said:

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. 

 

View PostRivertheRoyal, on 05 March 2017 - 11:04 PM, said:

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. 

 

oh what a bunch of garbage, this aint, yeah aint, an English class ... and if you cant get past someones grammar to be able to appreciate another persons thoughts then you need more than an education ....

alert1 #37 Posted 09 May 2017 - 06:55 AM

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View PostDaryaKonstantin, on 18 March 2017 - 06:16 AM, said:

 

Well said River, this should be required for aspiring forum posters when they first arrive. As a part-time published fiction...and fan-fiction...author (note: fiction, which should put most of my personal posts in perspective, despite me now realizing their flaws), you pretty much hit the nail on the head. So too add some general knowledge to all this:

 

- Sorry aspiring author's, if you can't be bothered to format correctly, why would we be bothered to read it? Furthermore, not all sites have compatible formatting, and you need to comb through the entire document after a transfer. To use a personal example, Google Docs has somewhat different formatting then Fanfiction.net. Thus, after finishing a chapter and copying it over, I go through it another 2-3 times to make sure I have all the formats correct. After the title, the formatting is the first big thing that stands out to readers. We are often turned off before even starting in when we open it to see a wall of text, as it's hard on the eyes and hard to follow. So, not matter what you're dealing with, understand the formatting issues you're likely to run into with any given site, especially this one.

 

- Honestly, there's not much to say on grammar. I hate to say it like this, but grammar is the most mathematical part of writing. It's cut and dry, black and white. There is mediocre formatting and word choices. Those are possible. There is no mediocre grammar. You either are using correct grammar or not for any given sentence. And to talk from personal experience, like mathematics, the best (unfortunately) way to learn grammar is to pound it into your head for so long that you instinctively write with almost perfect grammar. It's awful and painful, but really is the most expedient way.

 

- Word choice. Oh word choice. I could write a whole essay on it. River is right. If you can't think up a proper word off the top of your head, opening a thesaurus IS NOT the proper answer. Don't like your limited vocabulary? Read. Fun fact: the more you read, the faster you get at it. Doesn't really matter what. Newspapers, Magazines, Books, Fanfiction (though if you do this, stick to only the most popular or your IQ may suffer, and I wouldn't recommend this, but it's better than nothing). Look, I read all the time as a child, and now as a young adult I can read close to two hundred pages an hour at full tilt. I read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in an afternoon waiting on jury duty. That amazing novel (not for the faint of heart at well over 800 pages) is also the origin of my username, if anyone was curious.

 

Having a huge vocabulary is a double-edged sword. It's fun to know all these large and sometimes archaic words, yes, but it's not so fun when you unintentionally alienate your peers and friends because you can't help talking circles around them. It's not fun when you're constantly pausing, trying to find a smaller word to use. It's not fun having to constantly stop to define a word to your audience because you couldn't find said smaller word because you spent too much time with the big ones.

 

"Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood." - William Penn

 

And if you know what ostentation is without looking it up, you don't really need this post. But that's the point! It's the one word you don't know. The rest, in smaller and perfectly fine words, gets the real point across. The only time you should open a thesaurus is if you find yourself using the same adjectives or (ad)verbs over and over and it reads oddly. Don't worry about your vocabulary too terribly much unless you find yourself using the same words over and over with little or no alterations.

 

- River, I'm afraid I must slightly disagree on writing style. It is indeed a combination of the other three, and it develops naturally over time. It's an evolution, and doesn't really change significantly on your own. Like River said, it's similar to your speech pattern in that sense (and in actual words, though people tend to write a bit more eloquently than they speak). It's almost impossible to change on your own on short notice. If you want to change it, you have to get someone you can handle getting harsh criticism from for an extended period of time and is actually a competent writer to proof-read. From there, they can work with you to change your style permanently (slowly, this is a long process). A short shift for literary tactics is advanced material River, I'm not sure why you brought it up. :hiding:

 

But really, doing a style shift is well beyond your level if you're actually reading this to improve from basics (and good on you if you are!). Just totally ignore that mention for some time as it will just mess you up.

 

-And now for the most important rule of any forum anywhere, bolded in large font for your convenience:

 

If you cannot handle, in a mature and logical manner, someone having a different opinion on any given topic, then keep your opinion to yourself and DO NOT POST.

 

This makes sense, right? You have an opinion. Everyone else does too. Some have the same opinion, others do not. Before posting, ask yourself: "Will any argument sway my opinion on this topic?" If the answer is "No," then do not post. There is no point and it simply will become a cycle of mockery on both sides. Unless you're a troll and that's your goal, in which case, excuse my language, you can go f*** yourself with a rusty knife.

 

And on that topic, a PSA: No one likes the person that posts a rage and then calls everyone else names for disagreeing. Sure, they shouldn't be mocking the poster, that makes them just as bad. But the poster just can't settle down, inflamed by what seems to be nobody caring and willing to listen. If it's an obvious troll, then don't bait. But someone who's just having a bad day shouldn't be merciless vilified for a single bad decision. Encourage them to discuss it slowly and work some logic through them. Most people on here are at least somewhat rational (due to the on average older player base compared to the other big WG title), and you can slowly talk them down (or at least run some level of damage control) by simply being nice and lending an ear.

 

Take this as a supplement to River's original topic, and you'll be writing good posts in no time at all! :B

" Having a huge vocabulary is a double-edged sword. It's fun to know all these large and sometimes archaic words, yes, but it's not so fun when you unintentionally alienate your peers and friends because you can't help talking circles around them. It's not fun when you're constantly pausing, trying to find a smaller word to use. It's not fun having to constantly stop to define a word to your audience because you couldn't find said smaller word because you spent too much time with the big ones. "

 

personally i NEVER thought someone having a " HUGE vocabulary " made them an intelligent person at all, on the contrary, if someone THINKS that by having a " HUGE vocabulary " it makes them intelligent it actually PROVES they are NOT very, but then us intelligent people KNOW THAT ..... i prefer to run circles around people by the way i think ( i should come up with a new saying, " you can put lipstick on a pig ", " you cant learn to think critically, logically, sensibly, thoughtfully from a book or a class, you are either born with critical, sensible, thoughtful thinking skills OR you are NOT " ), and its the thought process that matters, people who lack it try to make up for it by using BIG WORDS ... what a JOKE ! ....

 

If you cannot handle, in a mature and logical manner, someone having a different opinion on any given topic, then keep your opinion to yourself and DO NOT POST. " 

 

as you sit there and criticize other people not for what they post but in the manner it was posted .... GET REAL !


Edited by alert1, 09 May 2017 - 01:25 PM.


RivertheRoyal #38 Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:59 PM

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wY View Postalert1, on 09 May 2017 - 01:40 AM, said:

 

 

oh what a bunch of garbage, this aint, yeah aint, an English class ... and if you cant get past someones grammar to be able to appreciate another persons thoughts then you need more than an education ....

 

View Postalert1, on 09 May 2017 - 01:55 AM, said:

" Having a huge vocabulary is a double-edged sword. It's fun to know all these large and sometimes archaic words, yes, but it's not so fun when you unintentionally alienate your peers and friends because you can't help talking circles around them. It's not fun when you're constantly pausing, trying to find a smaller word to use. It's not fun having to constantly stop to define a word to your audience because you couldn't find said smaller word because you spent too much time with the big ones. "

 

personally i NEVER thought someone having a " HUGE vocabulary " made them an intelligent person at all, on the contrary, if someone THINKS that by having a " HUGE vocabulary " it makes them intelligent it actually PROVES they are NOT very, but then us intelligent people KNOW THAT ..... i prefer to run circles around people by the way i think ( i should come up with a new saying, " you can put lipstick on a pig ", " you cant learn to think critically, logically, sensibly, thoughtfully from a book or a class, you are either born with critical, sensible, thoughtful thinking skills OR you are NOT " ), and its the thought process that matters, people who lack it try to make up for it by using BIG WORDS ... what a JOKE ! ....

 

If you cannot handle, in a mature and logical manner, someone having a different opinion on any given topic, then keep your opinion to yourself and DO NOT POST. " 

 

as you sit there and criticize other people not for what they post but in the manner it was posted .... GET REAL !

 

For the majority of people, which post are they going to take more seriously?

One barely comprehensible due to grammar mishaps and spelling errors? Or are they going to pay more attention to a post that actually makes sense and is easy to read?

Sure, the content itself matters, but it means nothing if nobody's gonna read it. That's what this is about. 

 

Though, part of it is also about appreciation, and good will. 

"I care about the people who want to read my stuff, so I'll make it easier for them" --Something like this. It's also sorta like "I want them to take my words seriously, so I might as well take the way I'm writing them equally as seriously."

 

 

 



DaryaKonstantin #39 Posted 09 May 2017 - 04:17 PM

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View Postalert1, on 09 May 2017 - 01:55 AM, said:

personally i NEVER thought someone having a " HUGE vocabulary " made them an intelligent person at all, on the contrary, if someone THINKS that by having a " HUGE vocabulary " it makes them intelligent it actually PROVES they are NOT very, but then us intelligent people KNOW THAT ..... i prefer to run circles around people by the way i think ( i should come up with a new saying, " you can put lipstick on a pig ", " you cant learn to think critically, logically, sensibly, thoughtfully from a book or a class, you are either born with critical, sensible, thoughtful thinking skills OR you are NOT " ), and its the thought process that matters, people who lack it try to make up for it by using BIG WORDS ... what a JOKE ! ....

 

as you sit there and criticize other people not for what they post but in the manner it was posted .... GET REAL !

 

 

Thank you for completely missing what the thread was about while also simultaneously proving it very correct. This thread is supposed to be a reader's digest on how to improve one's writing, with particular emphasis on forum posts here. Regardless of what we want, some people can and will mock others for how well they write their post instead of the content. This thread is supposed to be there for people to get a bit of quick help with that.

 

Also, it is a fact of life that no matter how valid your points are, if you can't find a sensible and coherent way to express them, no one will take you seriously. Until your rebuttal has a minimum proper grammar, please refrain from derailing a generally productive thread.


Battleships: Bismark, TirpitzScharnhorst, Gneisenau, Warspite, Dunkerque, Fuso, New York, Ishizuchi, All ARP Kongo-class

Cruisers: Atago, Belfast, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Schors, Graf Spee, Duca D'Aosta, Leander, Aoba, Omaha, Murmansk, Konigsberg, Duguay-Trouin, Emden, All ARP Myoko-class, Southern Dragon, ARP Takao

Destroyers: Tashkent, Ognevoi, Benson, Lo Yang, Sims, Blyskawica, Ashan,  Fubuki, Kamikaze, Minekaze, T-22

Carriers: Saipan (worst decision ever), Zuiho, Langely






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