Smogon Writing 101 - Getting Started and Writing Tips

Oglemi

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#1
Hello again everyone! This is another guide, but this time to help people get started writing for Smogon.

If you have not done so already, be sure to read up on the Rules and Guidelines, the Analysis Formatting Guide, and the other General Information announcement. Of particular interest is the Analysis Formatting Guide, which will help you figure out what to write and where in the analysis it should go. It also details the structure of presenting sets and the analysis as a whole. Also be sure to lurk around and learn by example.

So you know how to structure your analysis, but where do you start?

If you're looking to write an analysis like you see on the Smogon StrategyDex, your first stop should always be the tier's Index thread. Here is the OU index as an example. The index should typically be up to date on the analyses that need to be written, are reserved, are in the process of being written, or need to be reassigned. Sometimes a tier doesn't need anything written at that time (a rare occurrence, but one that can happen). If that's the case, your options for writing are typically limited to simply adding information to existing sets or submitting new singular sets.

Once you've found something you want to write, be sure to post in the index that you're interested in writing an analysis for that particular Pokemon. Now you're ready to start writing!

Thread structure and what you need to know

Never fake knowledge or information

Before you even get started you need to know this very important aspect of analysis writing. NEVER pretend to know something. While we want as many writers as possible and our analyses up to date, I cannot stress this enough. DON'T PRETEND TO KNOW SOMETHING WHEN YOU DON'T.

You need to actually know how to use the Pokemon in question and its placement within the metagame. You NEED to have actually played a number of battles with the Pokemon in order to be able to actually write for that Pokemon. It's impossible to fake knowledge. The Quality Control (QC) team and the moderators of that tier will be able to see straight through any "theorymonned" knowledge and your analysis may even be subsequently locked.

This is also a good time to mention that Smogon cracks down pretty heavily on plagiarism as well. If the moderators suspect any foul play in this regard you will be infracted and your analysis locked.

Thread structure and quick rundown of C&C process

Most of this information can be found in the announcements I linked at the top, but I clarify some of the points a little more explicitly here.

First thing's first, be sure to start a new thread by clicking the New Thread button here:



Next, you need to make a title and a tag. Always be descriptive; for example, let's say we're revamping Cinccino in RU. Our thread title would be as follows:

(Quality Control) Cinccino [Revamp] (QC 0/3)
The Quality Control tag can be found in the drop down box next to the thread title. (QC 0/3) denotes how many QC checks your analysis has. Most tiers require three QC checks before they can be checked for grammar and prose by the Grammar/Prose (GP) team.

While you're still in the QC stage, it's important to have your analysis structured as a skeleton. This is a very important aspect of the writing process. Before you even begin writing in the full sentences that you see on our StrategyDex, you need to show QC the information you'll be including in your writing in bulleted form. This allows the QC team quick and easy access to the information in your analysis, and it also allows for easier adding and subtracting of information as opposed to actual writing.

But on the same note, DO NOT POST AN EMPTY PLACEHOLDER THREAD. They serve zero purpose and are nothing more than just a "promise" that you'll add to it. At least give QC something to do with the threads you post.

Here is an example of a detailed, but simple skeleton, of a Gliscor set in the QC stage:

[SET]
name: Substitute
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Toxic
move 3: Protect / Taunt / Roost
move 4: Earthquake
item: Toxic Orb
ability: Poison Heal
nature: Impish
evs: 248 HP / 24 Def / 236 Spe

[SET COMMENTS]

  • The Good ol' Toxic Stall set is back to put smiles on peoples faces.
  • Able to stall out a myriad of Pokemon by using Sub+Protect/Roost without losing a smidgen of health, along with Toxic.
  • Earthquake is the main STAB option to prevent it from being Taunt bait and to provide some type of offense.
  • Protect is usually preferred over Roost to aid with scouting and to guarantee your Toxic Orb activates. Roost also removes Gliscors vital Flying typing for a turn. However, Roost may be used for a never-ending cycle of healing.
  • The final slot is best served by Toxic, to allow Gliscor to toxic stall Pokemon such as Blissey, Chansey, Rotom-W, etc. Taunt can be used to help shut down stall and set-up Pokemon such as Swords Dance Scizor and Bulk Up Conkeldurr, who otherwise use Gliscor as set up fodder. Ice Fang is a viable option to hit things that Earthquake can't touch, such as Dragons and other Gliscor.

[ADDITIONAL COMMENTS]

  • Speed EVs allow you to out speed all Heatran except Choice Scarf sets, Neutral-nature Lucario, Jolly Mamoswine and Adamant Breloom.
  • The rest of the EVs are put into HP and Defense to maximize Gliscors Physical Bulk.
  • Speed can be adjusted to out speed Pokemon such as all Rotom except scarf variants. A spread of 248 HP / 68 Def / 192 Spe with a Jolly nature is the best alternate spread for that. If out speeding Jolly Mamoswine isn't necessary, a slightly different spread of 252 HP / 36 Def / 220 Spe with an Impish nature can be used.
  • Aerial Ace can be used in the last slot to destroy Breloom, one of the few physical threats than can beat Gliscor. It is also useful for providing good damage on Amoonguss.
  • Toxic Spikes support is Gliscors best friend. Forretress, Tentacruel, and Roserade are excellent teammates that can perform this role.
  • Tyranitar and Hippowdon, Pokemon with the Sand Stream ability are staple partners along with Gliscor. They help put a damper on opposing weather teams and provide extra residual damage, aiding in Gliscors stalling rampage. Tyranitar is an excellent partner because of it's massive special defense. Gliscor takes the physical blows and most importantly, the deadly Fighting attacks aimed at Tyranitar.
  • Steel types immune to Earthquake completely shut down this set. Air Balloon Heatran is unaffected by anything this set does and can hit back with Hidden Power Ice or STAB Fire Blast. Although not commonly seen in OU, Bronzong will beat this set and can hit hard with Hidden Power Ice. Skarmory walls this set and can set up hazards in it's face, but can not really do much back, especially if Gliscor packs Taunt.
  • Taunt users completely shut down this set. Opposing Gliscor also stop this set cold, but can do nothing back unless they carry Ice Fang.
  • Pokemon that out speed Gliscor and hit on the special side will almost always come out on top.
  • Other good team mates that should be considered will need to focus on removing Pokemon that stop this set, and others that can take the special attacks aimed at Gliscor. Rotom-W is one of the best ways to deal with mentioned threats such as Skarmory and Air Balloon Heatran. Blissey can take all special attacks coming towards Gliscor, and Gliscor can take almost any physical attacks aimed at Blissey.
Once you've received three QC checks, you're free to write up your analysis in full. You should also change your thread title and tag to Copyediting. Once you're finished writing add the (GP 0/2):

(Copyediting) Cinccino [Revamp] (QC 3/3) (GP 0/2)
You can change the tag from Quality Control to Copyediting by clicking Edit -> Go Advanced. The (GP 0/2) denotes the number of GP checks your written analysis has received.

Once your analysis has been approved by the GP team twice, you're done! Be sure to change your thread title to the following

(Done) Cinccino [Revamp] (QC 3/3) (GP 2/2)
Writing Tips and Cliches to Avoid

Now that you're past QC and are working on writing the analysis, there's a few things to keep in mind as you're writing. Feel free to write directly on the forums or in a Word Document. If you choose to write in a Word Document, be sure to follow the guidelines here to remove the curly apostrophes from your analysis. In either case:

- Smogon uses Standard American English in our analyses and nearly every aspect of the site, keep this in mind if you're from the UK or Canada! If English is not your first language, do not, under any circumstances, simply write the analysis in your first language and then through it through Google Translate. It. doesn't. work.

However, if English is not your first language but you still want to contribute, we'd love to still have you push an analysis through QC and then co-write the analysis with another user.

- Pokemon names. Believe it or not, I cannot tell you how many times I've had to fix the spelling of Amoonguss and Foongus, as well as Alomomola, Beheeyem, and Reuniclus. Be sure to make sure you know how to spell all of the Pokemon's names as you dive in.

- Avoid using the following phrases and words:
  • Infamous. Nothing in Pokemon is infamous.
  • Abuse. We DO NOT abuse Pokemon or strategies here at Smogon. While it is a common term in regular Pokespeak on the simulator and on IRC, it is not acceptable in our analyses. Pokemon can capitalize and utilize the tools given to them, they do not abuse them.
  • With the advent of... This phrase is way overdone, I will personally delete any such sentences starting with these words.
  • All is not sunshine and roses for [Pokemon]. This was unique the first two times I did it, but now every writer seems to want to add this into the Overview. Stop. using. it.
  • Don't let this discourage you from using [Pokemon], once [Pokemon] gets in / gets going, it'll [insert claim here]. This phrase is commonly seen at the end of overviews. Avoid using it please.

- Be sure to keep the Smogon Spelling and Grammar Standards open in another tab so you can reference it as you go. Smogon has a bunch of subtle nuances in its writing, and many of the GP checkers are very particular about being consistent throughout the analysis.

- You're free to refer to a Pokemon as either it, he, or she. HOWEVER, be sure you're consistent throughout the analysis with one or the other.

For posterity, here are the parts of an analysis that you need for every set.

Parts of the analysis that are needed

Every set description needs the following parts:
  • Describes what the moves do
  • Describes what the item/EVs do
  • Describes a little bit its role on a team
  • Some checks and counters to the set
  • Some teammates

This doesn't require a lot of space, most set analyses are on average 4 paragraphs.

Join us on IRC

The C&C community is a fantastic group of people. If you've never been, be sure to hop on IRC every once and a while and meet the people behind the posts. A helpful guide in order to get to IRC can be found here. Once there, be sure to add #C&C and #pokemon to your list of channels!

Happy writing everyone!
 
#2
Great guide Oglemi; I would just specify to not add [GP 0/2] until the analysis is fully written up (you're supposed to do that right?). Not to write with too much fluff is also something you might add (I've been guilty of this many times in the past). Again, great guide!