Hello, fellow gamer! I linked you to this blog post because I think you have smart things to say, but I can’t be sure because parts of your post remind me of something a kender xaositect wildmage once told me. And I guarantee you that if I’m asking you to edit your post, others have already completely lost interest in your thoughts — or worse, have decided to argue against you on grammatical principle.
If you’re okay with that, I’m not here to tell you how to write. Go back to the jungle of gamer forums, and no hard feelings. But I do promise that the better you write, the more your fellow gamers will pay attention to your posts.
With that said, here are a few pointers to boosting your [online] Charisma score. I don’t pretend that the English language makes sense; that kender xaositect wildmage claims to have invented English himself. While on LSD. And I believe him. But all the same, it’s the English language that we all know, and it helps to keep a few points in mind:
- Don’t write run-on sentences. Ever played a character who encountered a symbol of pain? Well, a symbol of pain is actually a collection of run-on sentences that, if fully discerned, becomes the lyrics of a Cher song. So don’t subject your readers to save vs. Cher effects; hit SHIFT at the start of each sentence, and even more importantly, use periods. Neglecting your caps is distracting, but skipping periods is downright painful!
- Don’t post walls-of-text. Seriously, just hitting RETURN after each collection of related thoughts does wonders for those of us trying to read your post. If you’re not sure where one set of related thoughts ends and the next begins, hit RETURN after every fourth sentence or so. If one group of related thoughts takes more than that — or eight sentences at the very most — do a bit of trimming, because you probably over-fluffed your post.
- Don’t abuse the RETURN key. On the other hand, don’t hit RETURN for every time the words ‘fall’ and ‘paladin’ appear on the internet. Unless your post includes a numbered/bulleted list of things, it shouldn’t be composed entirely of paragraph-sentences. (Although sometimes it’s appropriate and not annoying at all to have one sentence alone.)
- Don’t abuse the SHIFT key. WRITING WHOLE PHRASES OR SENTENCES IN CAPS READS LIKE YOU’RE SCREAMING AT YOUR READERS, so don’t do it. (Unless of course you’re in the thick of an edition battle, and you need to convey just how stupid the other guys are.) If you want to emphasize a thought, instead italicize or bold it. Most message boards have buttons for this, but for those that don’t, simply type [i] or [b] before your thought and [/i] or [/b] after it. (A few forums use <> instead of .)
- One mark is enough. You only need one question-mark, exclamation-mark, or period at the end of your sentence; more reads like you’re hyperventilating and hysterical. (And not the funny kind of hysterical; the crazy-nervous-breakdown kind.) Or, in the case of multiple periods, it reads like you’re just stupid. (There is a place for ellipses — that’s three periods in a row — but ellipses are never necessary, so I’m not going to get into them here.) This goes for thread titles and thread text.
- Order matters. My hate of d02 know no limit.
- Proofread. Posts with obvious errors read like you wrote it with your off-hand in the middle of an Ayn Rand reading group, in a desperate effort to stay awake. And only because your nose didn’t have any more boogers to pick out. And if that’s so, why would anyone take you seriously? After you’re done typing, read over your post to look for obvious errors like ‘teh’ and “Sorcerers are fun are because they’re charing and they require require less bookkeeping.” If you’ve already hit SUBMIT, proofread anyway — in fact, I find it easier to proofread this way!
- Watch your spelling. Most message boards have built-in spell-checkers, so look for those little dotted underlines; if your message board doesn’t auto-spell-check, keep Word open and run your post through its spell-checker before posting. Also, watch out for words that spell-checkers don’t pick up:
- A rogue is a character class that excels at stealth, trap disarming, and dirty fighting; rouge is a makeup that your rogue’s favorite whore wears.
- A ‘tail‘ is what dragons have above their hind legs. A ‘tale‘ is a story about how the dragon TPKed the party.
- A word ending with s or es is plural. For example, “Are chain mail bikinis sexist?” A word ending in ‘s is possessive, or a compounding of the word and ‘is.’ For example, “I don’t know, but my girlfriend’s chain mail bikini is so hot!” or “Dude, your girlfriend’s a Larry Elmore poster!” If you’re in doubt about whether to throw that apostrophe in, ask yourself “Is this a plural noun?” If yes, no apostrophe is needed. If no, tap that apostrophe key!
- ‘Its‘ is the possessive form of ‘it.’ For example, “Its foot-long teeth are serrated like a torturer’s favorite knife.” ‘It’s‘ is a compound word composed of ‘it’ and ‘is.’ For example, “It’s getting warmer the further down this tunnel we go; I think we’re approaching the dragon’s inner lair.” When you’re in doubt whether to use ‘its’ or ‘it’s,’ simply replace the word with ‘it is.’ If the resulting sentence makes sense, use ‘it’s.’
- Likewise, ‘your‘ is the possessive form of ‘you,’ while ‘you’re‘ is a compound word made up of ‘you’ and ‘are.’ For example, “Your quiver is almost empty, so you’re going to need more arrows soon!” Again, when in doubt, replace the word with ‘you are.’ If the sentence still makes sense, use ‘you’re.’
- ‘Their‘ is a possessive form of ‘they.’ For example, “Don’t even talk to those rogues; their daggers are poisoned!” ‘There‘ is a versatile adverb. For example, “The druid is over there, hugging her broken furry class feature.”
- ‘Too‘ is an adverb; if you want to convey a strong degree or an additional noun, use ‘too.’ For example, “The chasm is too wide; I’ll never jump it!” or “I need healing too; use an area heal!” ‘To‘ is a preposition; if you want to convey motion or direction, use ‘to.’ For example, “Dragons can grow to be the size of houses!” or “We’re going to rob that douche king blind!” ‘Two‘ is a number between one and three.
- ‘Lose‘ is the opposite of ‘win,’ while ‘loose‘ is the opposite of ‘tight.’ (Thanks, fewilcox!) There’s no easy way to mentally check these words, because honestly, their spellings make no fucking sense. At the very least, the former should be spelled with a ‘z.’
- A ‘way‘ is a noun. To ‘weigh‘ is to measure the weight of an object, or to be affected by gravity. Occasionally, ‘weigh‘ is used metaphorically, as in “I’m going to weigh in with my opinion now” or “A heavy burden is weighing down my heart.”
- A ‘suit’ is a stylish set of set of clothing or armor. For example, “This suit of armor is ruining my business suit!” A ‘suite’ is a group of connected rooms. For example, “The king’s harem suite has more rooms than the Open Door Inn!”
The ambiguities and quirks of the English language actually drive me crazy, and I’ve been known to rant about how the alphabet should be cleaned up, and how written English should be officially updated to more closely reflect how we speak. Sadly though, there exists no English language-academy with official jurisdiction over our language anywhere in the world. ‘Proper’ English is actually just a result of common usage, combined with the best-selling dictionaries in whatever nation you live in.
Anyway, see you in the fora-sphere!