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Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:00 AM DefaultHow to write a good story #1
Lifa
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Edit: Stickied! Thank you, mods! ^_^

Instead of posting individual critiques on every story that I could critique, I'm going to write ONE BIG NASTY CRITIQUE and link it every time I see a story whose author could benefit from the knowledge that I care to impart. On seeing how many people have responded positively to this, I'm really glad that I took the time to write it all out and I look forward to updating if/when I see anything else that needs to be addressed. Thanks for all of your help, guys!

We have alot of talented people in this forum with very creative ideas, but the way that some of them write their stories is just so darn off-putting that it's hard to understand what the people had intended to say in the first place.

**NEW!**
QuickNav:

Lesson One : Grammar

Lesson Two : Continuity

Lesson Three : Making It Interesting

Lesson Four : Tips And Tricks

Lesson Five : Taking Good Pictures

Lesson Six : Reader Responsibilities (a Quick Rundown of Constructive Criticism)

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
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Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:01 AM DefaultLesson One : Grammar #2
Lifa
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Lesson One : Grammar.

They're = They Are. "They're going to the store."
There = Unspecified placement. "Put it over there. There you are!"
Their = Owned by Them. "Their cats. Their food. Their house."

Your = Owned by You. "Your cat. Your food. Your house."
You're = You Are. "You're going to make dinner tonight."

Too = Also, obscure quantitative. "That's too much! She's coming too."
Two = Number. "There are two cats."
To = Helps out a Verb (action word). "We are going to the store. To be or not to be."

Bear - Withstand, "Grin and bear it" Or a large mammal "The big brown bear."
Bare - Naked, uncovered. "I watched the cat bare its teeth and hiss at me. Skinnydipping in the pond, Lilly laughed at the sight of Mac's bare butt as she watched him dive."

Anything ending in 's = Possessive. "Judy's cat." or Is. "Judy's a slut."

Also keep Plurals in Mind!
Bee -- Bees
Chair -- Chairs
Mouse -- Mice
Kitty -- Kitties
Donkey -- Donkeys

*Always write your story out in a Word program first so that you can use Spellcheck and Grammar check.

Capitalize proper names of people, animals, and places but not everything.
Good: "Sophie and her dog Katie were taking a trip to the city of Simsville."
Bad: "sophie and Her Dog katie were taking a Trip to the City of simsville."

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:01 AM DefaultLesson 2 : Continuity #3
Lifa
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Lesson Two : Continuity.

Let's start a story.

"Hi my name is Missy and this is the story of my life. One day Missy met a handsome young man named Jack."

NO! But why not?
Because Missy starts off telling the story with her voice and then the story suddenly shifts into a third-party telling the story. It's no longer Missy speaking directly to the reader. Imagine how unsettling it would be if you went from talking to your best friend about what he was doing over the weekend and suddenly POP! you're watching him do those things instead of hearing about it! What we've done here is the literary equivalent of that.

Where would this be appropriate?
-In situations where the reader would be more impacted by a disembodied feel to the story rather than a personal feel. You should usually make an effort to visually separate the two sections, however.
-Where there's a strong transition that makes sense between the two methods of storytelling.

Impact:
"Hi, my name is Missy and this is the story of my life! One day I met a handsome young man named Jack. Things were just going great. We eloped to Vegas only a few hours after we met. This turned out to be a big mistake.
As we stepped inside our honeymoon suite, Jack shut and locked the door. "Come to bed, honey," I told him.
The last thing I remember is the pain as his fist hit me square in the nose.

Jack stared down at Missy's motionless body. She lay battered and bruised on the floor. The blood on his knuckles felt good, and the stolen money in his pocket felt even better."

Strong Transition:
"Hi, my name is Missy and this is the story of my life! One day I met a handsome young man named Jack. Gosh, my heart just felt like it was going to leap out of my chest when he leaned in to kiss me. As our lips touched, it felt like it couldn't be real, like I was floating above us watching it happen. Oh, look. There's Missy and Jack. They kiss."

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:31 AM DefaultLesson 3 : Making it Interesting #4
Lifa
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Lesson 3 : Making It Interesting

Let's teach by example again.

"See Jane run. Run, Jane, run."

... >_>
How about this?

"Jane ran very fast. The police ran after her."
Not quite.
Here's a better one.

"Jane's feet pounded against the ground, her flipflop sandals lagging a bit behind and hitting the soles of her feet as they caught up. SLAP SLAP SLAP. She took a sharp left into a dark alley and kept going, straight for the chain-link fence at the end. Her breath was fog in the chilly air although sweat streaked down her forehead. The police were just behind her! Her lungs and her legs burned as she pushed her body, mentally reciting her mantra of "just a little bit further, just a little bit further!" She had half an ounce of an illegal substance in her pocket, and if she got caught it would mean serving 20 years in prison."

What have I done?
1. I described some of the things that you might see or imagine when you think of someone running.
2. I put in "sound words". Sometimes it's more effective to say "SLAP" than to say "Her shoes hit the back of her feet with a slapping noise."
3. I gave her a reason to be doing what she's doing--a motive.
4. I described what Jane is feeling as she runs, therefore helping you empathize with her character.
5. I did not repeat words. It's not very exciting to see that "Jane ran" and "The police ran" so you have to find good ways to tell the audience that they're running without saying "ran" all of the time.
6. I gave her a place to be running in. This way, the readers/audience can place her; she's not running in a big white void, she's running in a city.

*Also:
Don't overuse conjunctions like "and" and "or".
Don't try to link two sentences that don't really relate -- "Jane was a seemingly nice lady who owned several cats but most people didn't know that she also dealt drugs." probably would sound better written like this: "Jane was a seemingly nice lady who owned several cats. Most people didn't know that she also dealt drugs."


Try using some of these techniques in your story! Remember not to overdo it. Use simple sentences and descriptive sentences to complement each other.

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:35 AM #5
Lifa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptile_Faded
Nice intention, but it's been stated several times before that this was only for completed stories and not related topics that are not stories, as you made mention of in your original post, but I do hope that it is moved to Sim Chat instead of being deleted or locked.


9_9 And that's why we have so many stories floating around that are written on grade-school levels, not only because we have gradeschoolers on this forum but because people can't post their assistance where everyone can see it and benefit from it. I've seen a trend in stories lately that someone has a great idea and can't convey it in a way that everyone else can read easily.

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:44 AM DefaultLesson 4 : Various Tips and Tricks #6
Lifa
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Lesson 4 : Various Tips and Tricks

*Use the Thesaurus and the Dictionary to find new and exciting words to use in your stories.

*Use analogies! "The sun shone down and made the world feel like the inside of an oven."
Try to use a word in a way that it's not commonly used! "On this cloudy afternoon, her kisses feel like the rain, sad and slow and soft and moist." However, using analogies just because you think they sound poetic usually doesn't work very well.

*Make it funny! Use puns and irony to your advantage, or put the characters in bizarre situations. GIR-like randomness (for those of you that watch Invader Zim) is also quite humourous if you can pull it off right--try it and find out!

*Use no netspeak in your story! Save it for comments and chats if you must. It DOES NOT MAKE YOU COOL! This means no LOL no ROFLMAO no WTF no L33T and no using 2 or U or any other "convenient replacements".

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:56 AM #7
professional loser
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I think it'll be good for writers to read this. You see so many stories that would otherwise be good made SO hard to read because of poor grammar and no continuity. I'm a bit of a grammar nazi, so I say this thread needs all the pimpage it can get. :p
Old 12th Feb 2006, 9:36 AM #8
Shell_SC

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Thank-you for the advice Lifa, it will come in handy *S*
Old 12th Feb 2006, 9:54 AM #9
Pink Alchemist

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very intresting, i'm going to taking notes .
Old 12th Feb 2006, 11:25 AM #10
Kazoona
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Great idea, Lifa. I've been thinking about doing a story and I need every bit of advice I can get - I'm definitely going to bookmark this thread.
Old 12th Feb 2006, 3:09 PM #11
purplebookworm2
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good idea, because yea, people can get pretty Illiterate, but some people arn't native english speakers. ^_^

but yes, grammar can make or break a story.

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Old 12th Feb 2006, 3:15 PM #12
Lollipop_Girl
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Phew actually i feel better about my stories im too scared to put online. Im normally good with grammer (although my keyboard isnt very good) and at English Language (the subject)
Im still contimplating in my head whether to put one online or not. But i feel more reassured..so thanks!

~Love is blind, i know this because you cant see me!~
Old 12th Feb 2006, 3:21 PM #13
Kate

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I think this is a very good idea, Lifa - thank you so much for posting it. Often I read stories on the Sims 2 Exchange and simply click off as the grammar is so bad.

This will also help me when I finally get around to posting the story I've currently got in mind - that is when I stop being so lazy!
Old 12th Feb 2006, 3:39 PM #14
Lollipop_Girl
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I cant read stories if the grammer is too bad, if the persons native language isnt english it dosnt bother me too much and i know that people can make typos. But when people write in text message language or simpley use too much bad grammer i cant take it seriously.

~Love is blind, i know this because you cant see me!~
Old 12th Feb 2006, 3:52 PM #15
Ghanima Atreides
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Taking your time to write a story is something I would suggest as well: think it out first, then put it down on the paper (or err, screen). I am not a Grammar nazi and I can understand, and live with a few errors (English is not my first language either but I try my best when writing) but having one typo in every sentance is beyond what makes a piece of text readable.

Anyway, I think this can be helpful in creating some sort of guidelines for those who are new at story-writing or simply don't know how to write one.

If wishes were fishes we'd all cast nets
Old 12th Feb 2006, 6:09 PM #16
Antilife

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Yeah! This will help alot, when I finaly get the nerve to make a story. I personaly think that pople with bad grammer mistakes and continuity problems, have these problems, because they didn't take the time to prewrite, and figure out the basis for there story. They just pick a sim take a whole bunch of pictures and start writing. but you should write everything down on paper first, then out of the words you've created, create a sim. Then map out your story, and before you write each chapter think it through and make sure you know what your doing. So, that you can have an ,understandable, detailed, and good story! Sorry if it seems like i'm swallowing this topic with my ideas.
Old 12th Feb 2006, 7:07 PM #17
Listerino
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Okay it's all well and good to give these kind of tips to people who are professional writers and such, but in my point of view I think it's a little harsh for sim story writers.
For instance I'm sure for some that write their stories in English it's not their first language, and so they're doing the best they can.
But in regards to my own stories I do my best in the grammer department before I post them - any they're/there mistakes are just ones I missed when I proof read - but in the end I write the stories for my own enjoyment and I don't really care if they don't sound great or proper, I just enjoy writing them, and I share them with others because I enjoy knowing others like the stories too.
Some people may find these above tips useful, but I find them a little judgemental and so I'll just stick to what I'm doing now....

I climb this tower inside my head
A spiral stair above my bed
I dream the stairs don't ask me why,
I throw myself into the sky
Old 12th Feb 2006, 8:30 PM #18
Mandie

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For me, personally, I feel that spelling is most important. That and avoiding "chat talk." I find it difficult to read a story if there are huge mistakes in it. I think a nice tip is to type it out in a word processing program first to eliminate most spelling, and some grammatical errors. That's what I do.
Old 12th Feb 2006, 11:46 PM #19
Lifa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Listerino
Okay it's all well and good to give these kind of tips to people who are professional writers and such, but in my point of view I think it's a little harsh for sim story writers.
For instance I'm sure for some that write their stories in English it's not their first language, and so they're doing the best they can.
But in regards to my own stories I do my best in the grammer department before I post them - any they're/there mistakes are just ones I missed when I proof read - but in the end I write the stories for my own enjoyment and I don't really care if they don't sound great or proper, I just enjoy writing them, and I share them with others because I enjoy knowing others like the stories too.
Some people may find these above tips useful, but I find them a little judgemental and so I'll just stick to what I'm doing now....


^_^ This would be useful for people who don't speak English as a first language too unless they're using online translation proggies.
You don't need to be a professional writer to write WELL and even those people who don't plan on ever being pro's at it can benefit from it--unless you plan to spend your life working in foodservice, you'll have to be able to write a convincing resume' containing...you guessed it... PROPER SPELLING AND GRAMMAR as well as good sentence structure and an obvious mastery of your language.

----

To everyone else, I AM STILL UPDATING THIS THREAD! Lol! I know I didn't think to write everything down the first time.

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 13th Feb 2006, 2:40 AM #20
Randomness_SC

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifa
Alright, honeys. Here we go. Let's get this over with. Mods, leave this up because we need it to be here.

With all due respect, I think a little bit more of a concilatory attitude would be a little more appropriate than the 'This is what's going to happen. Deal with it,' stance that you've taken with the moderators. They are moderators for a reason, Lifa. You could have tried being a little nicer in how you phrased that. You could have requested that you started the thread and asked that it be stickied.

That in-your-face attitude is a little off-putting to me, to be honest.
Old 13th Feb 2006, 6:21 AM #21
Lifa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denimjo
With all due respect, I think a little bit more of a concilatory attitude would be a little more appropriate than the 'This is what's going to happen. Deal with it,' stance that you've taken with the moderators. They are moderators for a reason, Lifa. You could have tried being a little nicer in how you phrased that. You could have requested that you started the thread and asked that it be stickied.

That in-your-face attitude is a little off-putting to me, to be honest.


O_o

I could have said "You leave this here, mod-b*tches, or I will come own you like a ninja in the night". (<--Joking)

The mods know what they're doing and frankly, I'm not one to "omg plz" with my lips attached to anyone's butt, with all due respect. The direct approach is usually way more productive.

Sorry if you took it out of context, I never mean to offend anyone with what I'm saying...but I do like to say what I felt needs to be said.

Prolly doesn't help that I was listening to Rammstein when I started this thread, it always puts me in a super-good mood.

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 13th Feb 2006, 6:50 AM DefaultLesson Five : Taking Good Pictures #22
Lifa
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Okay, let's face it, pictures are essential to every story that's posted here. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say).

There are plenty of threads out there that explain techniques to take pictures, so this will be brief and the example pics will be minimal.

A lot of people choose to take pics first and write afterwards, and a lot of people choose to write the story first and take pics to complement it. Either way can work for you! Just choose what you feel most comfortable doing.

Here's a few pointers to work with:

Game Issues and Shot Angle:
The biggest problem I see is people who take bottom-up shots from inside the house, and you can see the sky over the walls. Someone did a very lovely Ceiling Tile mod that can be found (correct me if I'm wrong) on MTS2 that enables you to get the perfect shot without catching vast expanses of sky. Otherwise, just get creative with your shots!
Also, I always find it a little strange to see shots done with Walls Down. Really, you shouldn't be able to see into the bathroom and the kitchen if you're taking a pic from in the living room--and vice versa! If at all possible, try to get the shot from inside the room with the walls up.
If you're taking pics from outside, you should also make sure that the roof is visible as well as all of the floors (when you're using a multi-level house).
Ceiling:

Shot Depth:
If all of your pics are of one type of depth, your story won't have the same impact as it would if you varied shot depth.
Close-up: Shows one small part of the subject of your scene. Head-and-shoulders shot.
Middle Shot:
Shows about half of the subject of your scene. Waist-up shot.
Long Shot:
Shows most or all of your subject. Full-body shot.
Extreme Close-up: If you took a picture of only your Sim's eye, it would be an extreme close up.
Extreme Long Shot: Assuiming that the little girl is the subject of this photograph, this is an extreme long shot. The surroundings take up more of the photo space than the subject does, usually.
An extreme close up would be effective to show a single tear running down someone's face.
A close up would be effective to show someone's strong reaction to a conversation.
A middle shot would be effective to show a hand gesture that someone is making.
A long shot would be effective to show the stove burning and someone standing across the kitchen freaking out.
An extreme long shot would be effective to show someone wandering between tall buildings in the city.
A good mix of these depths used appropriately makes your story visually appealing!

I've also found that the most interesting stories have an average ratio of less than three paragraphs per each picture. Keep in mind that if your pictures are expressive enough, you can tell an entire story without a single word! In fact, even if you intend to include text, your pictures ALONE should still allow the reader to make a close guess as to what's happening. (Try showing someone the pictures without text, and ask them what they think is happening--the closer their guess, the better job you've done!)
This is really up to you to decide what you want to do in this department, though. There is no "right" and "wrong" when it comes to the amount of pictures you choose to post.

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 13th Feb 2006, 7:29 AM #23
Lifa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptile_Faded
Your in-your-face additude makes me want to beat a bunny and I like bunnies!

I like kitties and ponies and unicorns. O_O

"Don't leave, don't give up on me."
Old 13th Feb 2006, 9:59 AM #24
LadySwig
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This actually is a very good thread and I'm defineltly gonna keep refering back to it when I start my new story

If you hate on me I have some advice click your heels thee times and say I wish I had a life
Old 14th Feb 2006, 2:02 AM #25
elerii

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifa
I like kitties and ponies and unicorns. O_O

As much as that made me laugh, I have to agree. I appreciate that you are trying to help, really, I do. I like to read a story with good spelling and grammar, myself, because I am a bit of a perfectionist. (Though, I hardly show it on the sims2community. My stories are written with thousands of mistakes. Usually, though, I take great time and care in my writing.) But, I must say, we all make mistakes; now, don't we? Please, don't get me wrong. I do agree with most of what you are saying.
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