2. Guidelines to writing for Steamhawke

Created by Captain Daenelia Bradley on Thu Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 12:56pm

Post length

As can be found in the FAQ, we have no word count or word limit for writers on Steamhawke. That means that the writers have the choice to write as little or as much as they think is needed. Though there is no hard cut-off limit, be aware that it is customary for writers on Steamhawke to strive to write as concise as possible. Enjoy the challenge of using only 2 lines for what you would normally have said in 8 lines.

Posts should have a beginning, middle and end. Each post should make sense if read on its own. See Chapters on more information on that.

It's getting too long!

When to cut off a post, can never be a precise science. It is a sense of completion more than 'having said all I wanted to say'. Read short stories to get that sense. Read through other posts to see where the cut off point seems more logical than in others. If in doubt, ask. Ultimately, no one but you decides, but a rough post end will jar your reader's experience. Since your readers are first and foremost your fellow writers, this can have consequences for finding writing partners.

Writing a series of connected but not continuous shorter posts is an option. for an example of a properly cut up post over a longer time, see Bridget's Investigations part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

These posts all follow Bridget's plot, each with a few hours up to a day between them. They were written over a longer period of time, to fit in with the posts that interspersed them. The two last posts could have been ONE big post, but the choice to split them up meant the pace of the overal story was kept up as well as allowing for other plots and posts. The overal story was not put on hold, and no writers were asked to 'wait until something else was posted'.

Grounding your post in the story

If you are writing a post that takes place in the story, with characters that are part of the story, then ground them in the story. Establish their actions with regard to the last post, or to the current situation they are in. If the ship is wandering around aimlessly through fog, don't make your character ignore this. A little nudge to the situation ties your post to the story.

Obviously if you are writing a flashback there are different things to consider. But even with a flashback, you can start with 'As foggy as it was now, John remembered a sunny day years ago when blablabla...'

Structure your posts: Pacing and flow

When possible we like to opt for fast paced story telling. Especialy for action packed scenes pacing is crucial. A step-by-step choreography of your character's movement is less effective than glossing over particular moves in order to keep the flow and momentum going. A more emotional-laden scene can of course be written in a slower pace, but even with emotions your impact can be greater by not writing out every thought, memory and anguish.

Structuring your post with a beginning, middle and end does not mean they are less spontaneous. It does help you focus on the effect and story movement you want to accomplish with your post. In order to do this, it is perfectly acceptable to move bits written by another writer to a more appropriate place. This way, you can avoid the 'split conversations', where one character asks a series of questions, which are then answered in turn by the other character. Do edit in the answers at the appropriate place, where they make the most sense.

By controling pacing and flow, you contribute not only to a readable post, but also hook the other writers into responding to your post in other posts.

Diary or Personal log entries

Diary entries are not part of the chapter. Though you can use the diaries or journals (personal logs) for anything you can think of, the consequence of using them is: it is not part of the chapter story. See Chapters on more information on that.

Your fellow writers

The writer is responsible for their own writing. If the reader misunderstands, consider that it must be the writer's job to write in such a way that misunderstandings are minimal. If you are not sure you are wording things correctly, ask your co-writers what they think!

Writing in a collaborative group means you have support from other writers. Writing for Steamhawke is not a competition, but a team effort. You write with and for your fellow writers. You want to tease them, to entice them to respond or come up with ideas, and incorporate that in your writing. Writing in a group means writing for all characters and making the story count.


Categories: 6. Writing Style

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