Standards for Grammar / Spelling, What a Good Writer Looks out for

Jumpman16

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#1
this is supposed to be a document that helps analysis/strategy article writers to not make common errors and how to fix them if/when they occur


One of the most important parts of writing for any medium actually begins after the final period has been placed. Many of the greatest, most coherent and well-flowing speeches, essays and even song lyrics ever written have been edited and re-edited a number of times, looked over by numerous different eyes and influenced by several different perspectives. This take on writing can easily be applied to Smogon's strategy analyses and articles. A public internet forum is a fantastic way for a community to collectively look over a given article or analysis, and to both identify and correct errors committed in many initial attempts at a solid strategy article or analysis. Here are a few of the more common errors you should be on the lookout for.

Opening Sentences

A great analysis or article naturally starts with a great introductory sentence. You want to pull your readers in from the very beginning, and let them know that your writeup is intelligently written, has somewhere to go, and will be enjoyable to read from start to finish. For an example: "A good pokemon team has a mix of offensive and defensive pokémon that compliment one another and pose a constant threat to the opposing team." We can do better than this, right? How about: "When building a pokemon team, you must first have a central idea in your mind about what you want to accomplish, and then think about which pokemon will help you accomplish that goal in the most effective manner possible." Both of those sentences are admittedly short and out of context (one where the tital of the writeup would be "How to make an effective team" or something), but you can see how the latter has a little more life to it and makes you want to read on more than the former. A good opening paragraph should set the tone for the rest of the writeup, and your personality—which I will touch upon later—should be at least somewhat apparent from the very first sentence.

Pretention

You don't have to use big words to sound knowledgeable about something. An example: "Garchomp is very prevalent in this torridly-paced metagame due to how skillfully said pokemon boasts a Choice Scarf, superb Base Attack and an impressive array of moves that can threaten even the staunchest of defenses." No. You may think you sound smart, but most readers will either wonder why you chose such "big" words or wonder whether you realize how pompous your writing style is. An example of the above sentence with less pretention: "Garchomp is very prevalent in today's fast-paced metagame because of how well it can use a Choice Scarf, its great attacking stats and Outrage, Earthquake and Fire Blast to pose a huge threat to any pokemon team."

I don't feel that sentence is just a "dumbed-down" version of the former sentence—it still gets the point across intelligibly and doesn't resort to relatively uncommon words to do so. Granted, there is a fine line between sounding intelligent and sounding pretentious, and skirting that line is the challenge faced by many beginning writers and even a few more tenured ones. And you don't have to avoid using contractions or beginning sentences with conjunctions—both of which I just did—as if they will make your writing appear too casual, because, in fact, some of the best authors strive to make their literature read very conversationally.

Word Repetition

This is a more tangible error that may not always be caught while initially writing the first draft. An example: "When you take into account Gengar's great movepool, Special Attack and Speed you realize what a great special threat it can be." No reason to use "great" here twice—swap the latter with "formidable", "fantastic", etc. The word repetition phenomenon can also apply across separate sentences in a paragraph, or from paragraph to paragraph depending on the word. You will usually have to reread your writeup after the fact to catch such repetitions, but a good writer rereads his or her work from start to finish to look for flow issues anyway.

Grammatical and Punctuational Errors

These are usually the easiest to find upon a second look-through, but still occur commonly enough to make a note about them worthwhile. Strangely enough, the error found most in our analyses contained both at the same time: its vs. it's. "Its" is possessive, and "it's" is a contraction of "it is". An example: "Heracross makes great use of it's Choice Band thanks to two 120 Base Power STABbed attacks." It should obviously read "its" here, not "it's". The reason this error occurs so frequently, in my opinion, is that it's what I like to call a "phonetic typographical error". Our minds say the word "its", but because it is a homophone of "it's", and we use that word much more often than "its" in actual spoken language, we tend to actually write "it's" for an understandably phonetic reason (assuming you were indeed paying attention to the difference between the two when you learned about them in grade school). The same goes for the usage of "than" and "then"you know the difference between the two, but your "mind's tongue" sometimes says the wrong one. A quick double check will fix a mixup of "than" and "then" if you don't catch it immediately after typing one.

Another common error is writing "STAB'ed" instead of "STABbed" or "OHKO's" instead of "OHKOs" (if you choose to not treat both strictly as the acronyms STAB and OHKO). Apostrophes serve two purposes—to denote possession or to denote an omission of one or more letters, as in a contraction. Neither is the case in the above examples, so neither require an apostrophe. Issues involving grammar and punctuation are usually almost as easy to sniff out as are conventional typographical errors and misspellings, though, and can likely all be addressed after a single rereading.

Personality

One of the more difficult goals to accomplish in writing is to infuse your writing with a certain sense of personality without appearing biased. You don't want to write the entire document in the first person, but you also don't want to write as if you have no passion about the subject on which you are writing either. An example: "I think Floatzel is one of the most fearsome BL pokemon there is, and in my opinion, can work on any standard team with some decent support." In this case, you don't need the first person to prove your point—your writing would be more persuasive and genuine without it here. Observe: "Floatzel is one of the most fearsome BL pokemon there is, and can work on any standard team with decent support." I clearly just removed the "I think" and the "in my opinion", but you can see how much more effective the revised sentence is. Generally you do not want to employ either of those uses of the first person in your writing, because it is implied that the writer feels the way he or she does about what he or she wrote.

There are times where a little personality can go a long way towards sprucing up a document. Humor and wit are great ways to showcase personality and make your document enjoyable to read. You are going to want to pick your spots and not overdo it, but if you can find a good spot or two in a paragraph you can go ahead and insert some wit or humor if you can do it without detracting from the writeup in general. The best way to tell if you've gone a little overboard is by rereading your work after you've written it and can look at every sentence and idea and ask yourself, objectively, if the sentiment conveyed is the most appropriate for the given sentence or idea.

*****

Well, those are a few of the major things to look out for when writing and editing an article or analysis. After you read over your or someone else's work, you should be sure that, whatever change you're going to make, the initial integrity of the writeup's flow is kept intact. While this applies more to instances where the writeup is edited by someone other than the original author, it is a good idea to recall your own flow and style when making edits to your own document. The best way to do this is by rereading the document until you are certain of its flow and can therefore make edits that observe it no matter what.
 
#2
I think it is worth mentioning something about editing existing documents, like the analyses. I've had to edit some revisions made by others because they just threw in a sentence and it disrupted the flow of the article. In some cases, there are two or three different writing styles in the same analysis, which makes it look really messy. Or to put it another way, "a camel is a horse built by committee." We don't want to be overrun with camels.

Everything else looks good. I can see this being a big help to newer contributors (and me, to be honest).
 
#3
Really, the most effective thing, IMO, is to just read over what you've written, multiple times, and just kind of "feel" out the wording. It's hard to explain but a lot of the things you've said seem like common sense if you just do a bit of proofreading.
 
#4
You covered everything we talked about. I said back then I couldn't think of anything, and I still can't haha. Also: only 2 replies? Come on, people. Unless you have an excuse like "I spent from Christmas morning until this post writing the majority of the fundamentals for the Competitor server" (and you don't, that's my excuse) you could at least give Jump a "good job" post.
 

Mekkah

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#5
An error I made was going over the top with the humour in the analysis so that it became too informal and it got in the way - see the old DP Steelix and Mr. Mime analyses for examples. That is certainly something I'd avoid.

Thumbs up on the writing.
 
#6
fair enough

good work, I can't really tell bad writing from good writing unless the difference is very obvious since English isn't my first language but I can tell this took a lot of work to make and it'll probably help people a lot
 

david stone

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#7
One of the most common grammatical errors I have encountered is the use of apostrophes. OHKO'ed, OHKO'd and OHKO's are never correct. The proper construction would be "OHKOed" and "OHKOs". There is no need for an apostrophe there because no letters have been left out (it's not a contraction) and it's not possessive (the only time 's is used).
 
#8
An error I made was going over the top with the humour in the analysis so that it became too informal and it got in the way - see the old DP Steelix and Mr. Mime analyses for examples. That is certainly something I'd avoid.

Thumbs up on the writing.
Sarenji's stuff too.
 

Jumpman16

np: Michael Jackson - "Mon in the Mirror" (DW mix)
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#9
yeah when i added that bit about humor i wanted to say "An example:..." as i had for the first three but i realized it really doesn't work like that, i can't just say "this is witty/funny and this isn't", so i decided not to try. I think the wit/humor thing, though, is one of the issues best dealt with by committee, when compared to valid but objective issues like apostrophes and word repetition

i am going to edit the op in a sec and then double post because im a rebel
 

Jumpman16

np: Michael Jackson - "Mon in the Mirror" (DW mix)
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#14
ok you guys, i thought i'd move this here for your input after having the Inside Scoop crew look at it first. i would appreciate it if you contributors, new or old or even aspiring, can weigh in with a particular concrete issue or two that you have seen in either your writing or in that of your peers

also you can nitpick something you'd like clarified or cleaned up but watch it because i, the mighty Jumpman16, secretly hate nitpicks because my writing is perfect
 

X-Act

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#19
Very good article. I wonder if my own articles are good enough after reading this. My English is not top-notch, probably because English is not my first language. But I always try to do my best.

STABbed is better, maybe because in English it goes from 'stab' to 'stabbed' as well!
 

david stone

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#20
I dislike both STABbed and STABed. I've always just used "STAB". Swampert has a STAB Surf. Heracross used STAB Megahorn on Wobbuffet. I wish ADV Salamence could abuse that STAB Dragon Claw better. Gyarados gets STAB on Waterfall.
 

Blue Kirby

Never back down.
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#21
I agree with Obi. I find anything other than "STAB" or "OHKO" and the like comes across quite awkward. In almost all instances, you can restructure a sentence to change something like "STABed" to "STAB".

Aside from that, this is definitely a great writeup. I can see myself referring to this consistently in the future - it builds upon what I've already learned in my time here. Thanks for taking the time to compile this.
 
#22
on the STAB subject: i'm sure we all know what STAB stands for: Same Type Attack Boost. if i use STAB(b)ed, i think by myself; Wait, boost -> boostbed or boosted. i which case i will always go for either just STAB (like Obi) or find myself using STABed since it follows Boost better. that's how i look at things.
 

Jumpman16

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#25
This has turned into a largely semantic debate, but whatever! The point is that if we are going to treat STAB as a word and not an acronym, then we should go the whole nine yards and make it STABBed, and not STABed.

At any rate, when we use STAB and are wondering whether to make it STABbed or keep it as STAB, it's actually an adjective, not a verb. "Heracross does well with its STABbed/STAB Megahorn." Clearly an adjective. The only other instance I can think of where we use STAB is when it's clearly a noun: "In general, a pokémon should only use Waterfall if it gets STAB on it." In this case, there's no desire to turn it into a verb or consider STAB an adjective or a verb.

In conclusion, yes, you can reword sentences with STAB to read: "In general, a pokémon should only use Waterfall if it gets STAB on it." instead of "In general, a pokémon should only use Waterfall if it's STABbed" but I really don't see the big deal with using STABbed. I hope I've at least shown you why it would be STABbed and not STABed.
 

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