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> Cw Forum Rules, Guidelines And Faq, Read Before Posting.
Posted: May 21 2008, 12:16 PM
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Part I: Rules, Guidelines & FAQ
Reading this post is an absolute must before you hit the “Submit Post” button for the first time. Under the first header, you’ll find CW’s Rules, breaking those will lead to nasty things, so: read them, learn them and love them.

The second section of this post is all about Guidelines, guidelines are a lot like rules, but will generally be enforced less strictly. If anything, they explain the values of this forum and give you tips on how to behave if you want to be liked by the regulars.

Finally, there’s an FAQ. If you have questions about topics relating to forum mechanics, such as setting up a profile, posting and whatnot, you’ll find the answers in MTC’s Rules. The FAQ at the bottom of this post only deals with CW-specific issues. If, after reading them, you still have a question, you can always notify a moderator through pm.



These are the Creative Writing Forum rules. Break them, and you risk having your thread locked or receiving a warning and/or ban. We’ve tried to make these as unambiguous as possible, but rules are always open for interpretation. If you’re unsure whether or not a thread will be allowed, the safest thing to do is to pm your concept to a moderator for clearance.
  • Post your work in proper English.
    Please read and re-read your work before you post it. Make sure your grammar is correct (Word does often not pick up on misused words, for example, “your” instead of “you're”), and run a spell checker.

  • Do not flame.
    As hard as this may be for most of us, please try to avoid flame-wars. I'm certainly one for healthy debate; however, have you serious doubts about how long I'll allow a quibble to go on, and have you many.

  • Do not flood the board.
    Your posts may be deleted if you do so. You won’t be notified.

  • Settle problems via PM.
    This includes issues you have with mods. If you don’t like something I’ve done, PMing me will always be more effective than posting a rant about how much you hate me, regardless how entertaining some of those can get.

  • Post actual work.
    A paragraph-long "excerpt" doesn't cut it. Neither does just a "concept" of a story, or a link to a story. Posts like this will get closed without warning.

  • Do not start question threads.
    These include threads that ask for translations or webcomic script-writers. If you have a question, the safest thing to do is to pm a moderator.

  • Do not double-post.
    There is an edit-button for a reason, if you want to add something to a thread minutes after you’ve posted, you can still include it in your last post. The only exception to this rule is bumping ignored work. As regards bumping, don’t bump unless your thread has reached the second page and only bump once.

  • Do not post pornography.
    We don't mind a little adult-y stuff. However, we do ask that you post a warning of some kind, either in the title of your thread or before the work itself. We also ask that out-right adult content, i.e., pornography or erotic fiction, not be posted at all. But please keep in mind that we’re all mature enough to handle the word “damn” in a piece of writing. So rate your work accurately.

  • Do not use copyrighted material in your works.
    No, that doesn't mean using brand names like Coke or Nintendo. Those would be trademarks. The copyrighting would include things such as, but not limited to characters, worlds, plots, et cetera. So, you know what that means: straight-out fanfiction is prohibited.

  • All MTF rules apply to this forum as well.
    The rules as they are set out in this topic apply to all the forums and CW is no exception. You might also want to read the Mad Moderators thread if you want to avoid risking moderator attention or action.


Following the rules should keep you out of trouble with the moderators, but doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have any with the forum-goers. I therefore offer suggestions that have been made by previous moderators as well as several respected members. Following these suggestions should make your stay in this forum a rather pleasant one.
  • Do not post your work if you’re afraid of receiving a harsh critique.
    This board was created for the giving and taking of critique. That is, this forum was created so that aspiring and established writers can receive the opinions of their peers in hopes of improving their own work. Unfortunately, due to the deeply personal nature of creative work, not all critique can be nice. And, unfortunately for some, it is not our job to make you feel warm and fuzzy. If you're scared of having something you worked hard on be trampled over, please do not post it.

  • Specify what prompted you to write what you wrote.
    If your work is written for someone or something, please explain beforehand what prompted you to write it. It may make sense to you, but it usually doesn't to the rest of us. Of course, the intentions of your writing should become clear from reading the piece itself, it is therefore safe to say that this guideline is applicable to beginning writers in specific.

  • Do not use free form poetry as an excuse to write convoluted and/or unstructured work.
    Free form is experimentation with uncommon structures, not a chance to write whatever you want with no one to contradict you.

  • Express your gratitude to people who took the time to review your work.
    Remember that a small “thank you” goes a long way. There’s a lot to say for people who took the time to read and review your work – even if they didn’t have any nice things to say about the writing itself.

  • Do not attempt to justify points that were made by your critics.
    It is entirely up to you what you do with the critiques that were offered, but when people fail to understand a certain aspect of your writing, you might want to consider the idea that you failed to communicate properly.

  • Do not be unnecessarily scathing in your critique.
    While no one here will mind a harsh critique and most of us are actually looking for just that, there’s a difference between being harsh and unnecessarily scathing. When writing a critique, remember that you’re commenting on the piece, not the author.

  • Do not post angst.
    We know that writing about your personal problems in poetry is the popular thing to do these days. However, I must stress that any such work is generally frowned upon in this forum.

  • Make sure your work is properly structured.
    You may think it's cool or original or whatever to defy convention, but really it's not. In reality, a person will look at unstructured work and hit the back button.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finally, we offer you an FAQ, with frequently asked questions that should make the works around here a bit more obvious.
  • What is the purpose of the Creative Writing Forum?
    Primarily, this is a forum in which people can post their prose or poetry to be read and reviewed by their peers. However, due to the rather social nature of this forum, general discussion on literature and writing in itself are commonplace as well.

  • Are there any requirements to the level of writing?
    Officially, we have but one requirement: what you post is to be at least second draft. That means that you at least edited your work to correct typoes and grammatical mistakes.

  • Do I have to be an experienced writer? What does it take to post here, and how should I post here?
    We welcome writers of any level. All writers begin somewhere, and, citing an old Chinese proverb, there is always a taller mountain. We welcome anyone to post, so long as they have a desire to learn and improve, a willingness to be precise without being pedantic, and finally, a love for the art.

    Other members will be honest with their critique. As anyone with experience will know, critique can be hard to swallow, especially when you have put a lot of effort into the piece. If you truly love writing however, that feeling will always be overshadowed by your desire to polish your work (and skills) as much as possible. Thick skin is key.

    It takes time to read and write thoughtful comments, and we expect writers to spend the same effort proofreading and editing before posting their pieces.

    We also encourage members to comment on pieces they’ve read. While in-depth analyses are most helpful, first impressions can also be helpful for the writer. Threads often develop into discussions. and these discussions can sometimes be as helpful as the process of writing itself.

    While we believe in precision, members commenting on pieces may become overly pedantic at times, usually unintentionally. This often happens when a poster begins to read with finding flaws in mind instead of trying to appreciate the piece, and thus lose sight of the bigger picture. Usually, this may come in form of holding onto every instance a writer makes an exception to the rules (such as “telling”, use of non-concrete imagery, repetition, and “purple prose”), without appreciating or considering the writer’s reason for doing so, and therefore not as useful in helping the writer determine whether it is effective or not. It is important for a writer to make a piece as perfect as possible, but sometimes these nitpicks become destructive, as they are more mechanical than sincere, and may not really reflect a normal reader’s reaction.

  • Am I required to comment on other people's works?
    We understand that there are many other creative writing boards around with different conventions, and many of these require posters to make an amount of comments for other people’s works, often proportionate to the number of pieces they post.

    We feel, however, that these restraints make writers say more than they would normally, and say things they don’t mean, intentionally find things to say when they have nothing to say, and either become overly encouraging or unrealistically pedantic and critical. We believe that reading other people’s work and comments is as much a learning opportunity as posting up one’s own work, if not more so, and if a member has to be forced to read other writers’ works, then they most likely do not have the sort of mindset we promote.

    Despite its lighthearted nature, our community is mature and has great autonomy. Through the atmosphere and ideals we promote, it sifts through most casual and non-serious writers--we are left with like-minded individuals and a tight-knit community.

    That is not to say we don’t have a wide variety of writing styles and tastes, but we all share the same passion for writing. As such, there is a strong sense of community on the forums, and there is much to be gleaned from joining discussions and critiques. Our moderators will rarely enforce or regulate member conducts, and we do not plan to, as we have always envisioned a mature and self-sustained group of writers, but it is to the benefit of the poster to do more than just leech off others' comments.

    The more one gives, the more one receives. Our members tend to be inviting and comment on new pieces regardless of whether the poster has commented, but in the end one will have to make the effort to learn and engage with other writers. On a practical level, the best way to get advice is to ask for it, not by harassing others, but by showing us that you want to learn.

This post has been edited by OLF, i.e. Olf Le Fol on May 7 2010, 09:13 AM
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Posted: Jun 5 2008, 01:13 PM
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Part II: Explanatory Wordlist & Helpful Links
Note that the content of this second part is optional. This is effectively nothing more than an effort to make life easier for you, i.e. there is nothing in this post that you’ll have to adhere to in order to stay out of trouble with anyone in this forum.

The first section is a list of definitions of words that you’ll be likely to come across while reading posts in this forum. The second section is a list of helpful links if you haven’t had enough to read at that point.

The ABC of CW
Also known as CW’s forum dictionary – it’s an explanatory wordlist that will explain some of the jargon you’re likely to come across during your stay here.
  • Angst
    Angst is unlike many of you people think not necessarily negative or gloomy. Angst is what happens when people semi-deliberately whine about personal problems in their writing and when it gets kind of bland too. I agree that writing is a wonderful way to vent, but do it here and not on the board.

  • Boredom
    One of the biggest difficulties an author has to overcome when writing longer pieces in particular is catching a reader’s interest. Therefore, don’t be surprised or insulted when people only comment on the first two paragraphs of your piece, you simply didn’t manage to serve your reader something that could interest them. Do note that boredom sometimes strikes after reading nothing more than the title.

  • Cliché
    I believe that at this point in time, we can safely assume that everything has been done before. Be it with different personalities, different settings, or different styles, everything you write has been influenced by other writing, movies, videogames and sometimes experience or research. The question that now rises is: “If I can’t write anything entirely original, how do I avoid clichés?” The answer to this question is not simple and can only be understood by those who have read their share of writing. It basically comes down to avoiding every-day colloquialisms; don’t call your love “the light in the darkness” for example, or write a fantasy-story about a group of weak people who grow beyond themselves and free some mythical world from an immensely powerful demon against all odds.

  • Distortion
    Incohesive and convoluted poetry is an absolute no-no. This usually happens when an inexperienced author defies all structural and poetic devices and decides to write poetry regardless of everything else, with the motto “It’s poetry when I call it poetry.”

  • Eros
    Love. Love is an emotion most people don’t understand, but have tried to describe in poetry regardless. An intricate feeling like love is obviously a tough obstacle to tackle and I therefore suggest you don’t write about it before you feel certain you’ve attained some skill at writing generally. Also, don’t assume you know everything about love either.

  • Form
    Various elementary-teachers may preach otherwise, but form is definitely a very important aspect of good or even decent poetry. Over the past years, I’ve heard arguments varying from “poetry is about emotion” to “poetry is about insight” both trying to make form an insignificant aspect. While I do agree that form should always have substance, I will never agree that good substance without good form is good poetry.

  • Goal
    Lyynxx has said this before, but I believe it deserves to be repeated: “The goal of any and all writing is communication, if yours doesn’t communicate, then it failed as a written piece in general.” Well then, there are different varieties of goals a piece of writing can have; be it informative, persuasive or just for amusement, a writer should always set a goal before he starts writing. And check whether or not he achieved the goal.

  • Haiku
    Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. Due to the brevity and simplicity of the form, inexperienced poets often think they can write haiku. And once in a blue moon, they post their abominations on CW, usually completely disregarding the point of haiku. I therefore suggest that if you are interested in writing one, you read this link.

  • Insight
    With this paragraph, I should refer to the paragraph about form; insight is the substance of any written piece. Before one starts writing, he should consider what it is he wants to say with the piece. Beautifully stylized pieces are empty when they don’t offer any insight. To quote Surrealist: “Insight first, technique second.

  • Justification
    What less experienced (or sometimes arrogant, more experienced) writers do when they hear something they don't like in a critique. Making up an excuse for every problem pointed out, including the ultimate cop-out, "You just don't understand it." Writing is about communication. If too many people don't understand it, you have to consider the possibility that you've failed to communicate.

  • King’s tongue
    For those of you who don’t know: that’s English. Note that this is in the guidelines that apply forum-wide, but on a language-oriented sub-forum like CW, I believe it deserves to be stressed: to the best of your ability, write proper English, perhaps it’s an idea to read your post before you actually post it and see if you made any spelling errors and don’t be afraid: we’re not total grammar Nazis. However, bastardizations like l33t, aim-speak or fanboy-English are entirely not appreciated.

  • License
    I’m talking about poetic license here; I’ve heard it being used as an excuse to write poetry with incoherent grammar and spelling, defying the laws of punctuation and whatnot. I find this worrisome; poetic license is not a wild card to chop up sentences for the sake of fitting a certain form, or to ditch any and all punctuation for that matter. No, poetic license should only be used when it is in fact a literary device. A sentence like “He kicked the bike went downhill rapidly,” can only exist in poetry. This is a simple example of poetic license, the rest is usually awful English.

  • Mainstream
    Often will you hear people comment on a piece (usually lyrics) with “it’s trite, but the mainstream will love it,” or something to that effect. You can call us elitist, but we don’t mean this positively at all. “The mainstream” reads sloppy novels about doctors who have sexual relationships with nurses, listens to Linkin Park and thinks the Da Vinci Code is a wonderful book.

  • Necromancy
    Necromancy is the reopening of dead threads and a habit that should be avoided, unless you're Umino. Because in that case, people assume you have a good reason.

  • Opinion
    We’ve had various debates over here in the past, varying from how to critique to what poetry really is. The current consensus about many issues is described in this ABC, but you should note that it is entirely based on opinions. Much like you have your opinions on various subjects as well and we’d really love to hear your opinions, as long as you keep two things in mind; your opinions are not facts and don’t derail threads by stating a certain opinion. If you want to discuss say, the definition of poetry, you can start a new topic and pose your ideas as opinions, not facts.

  • Poerty
    Before you spam my inbox; “poerty” is not a typo. Poerty is what happens when a poem (poerm) was written by such a horrible poet (poert) that it hurts ones eyes to read it. It pops up in critiques every so often so I thought it deserved a paragraph, you can find Dmizer’s (the person who originally came up with the idea) definition of the word here.

  • Quatrain
    A poem of four lines per stanza and usually with an a,a,b,b rhyming couplet. Example:

    The mountain frames the sky -a-
    As a shadow of an eagle flies by. -a-
    With clouds hanging at its edge -b-
    A climber proves his courage on its rocky ledge. -b-

    -The Mountain by Donna Brook.

  • Revise
    Revision is something you should do several times after you finish writing. You're bound to catch obvious mistakes and in some cases realize that entire passages may not make any sense. Sometimes it's good to wait a day or even more after finishing writing to reread. That way you are less likely to gloss over bad writing because you remember what you meant when you wrote it.

  • Show, don’t tell
    If you were to submit prose, odds are that the comment to your piece will be little more than “Show, don’t tell.” This basically means that the reader doesn’t give a damn whether or not Fred beats his children, the reader might care however, when you describe how and why this beating takes place.

  • Thesaurus
    Expand your vocabulary. Never use the same word repeatedly in consecutive sentences or paragraphs. There are so many different ways to write the same thing; being fresh and innovative keeps things interesting. Broken-recordness destroys flow. On the other hand; I should say that overuse of a thesaurus disrupts the flow, a hilarious example of this can be found in the comedy-series Friends, where Joey uses the term “intelligent, bipedal ape-like creatures” when he tried to refer to the word “people.”

  • Understanding
    Before you start writing, you need a certain understanding of how writing works; which constructions do and don’t work, for example. This term is variable to some extent and even different successful writers don’t have an equal amount of understanding. I can state with some certainty though that the best way to achieve this understanding is to read.

  • Vocabulary
    My linguistics teacher once drew the obvious analogy between walls and discourse. He called words the bricks and syntax the cement, I’m not one to dispute him entirely, but I will stop the analogy there. Walls – contrary to writing – use vaguely equal bricks. However, in order to keep your writing interesting, you need a variety of different words. I know this has pretty much been covered under the head “thesaurus,” but I believed it deserves to be stressed some more; a wide vocabulary is one of the keys to decent writing.

  • Waiting
    Don’t bump your own thread thirty minutes after you post your writing. Give us some time to notice your thread, read it and ultimately decide whether or not we have anything useful to contribute.

  • Xerox
    Plagiarism is a mortal sin; don’t do it.

  • Your knowledge
    … is limited. It is very unsafe to assume you know everything about a certain subject. We have some very knowledgeable people around here and superiority is something we are not prone to accept. I know I almost blatantly stole that from other guidelines throughout the forums, but I gathered that this is too important to let it slip.

  • Zen
    You might think: “why is zen listed in an ABC about a creative writing forum?” I’ll tell you why: various members here have developed a certain zen which allows them to generally deduce the quality of a written piece by only reading the title and username. It’s a nifty ability, you can leave me a private message if you want to know more about it, because it’s obviously not to be shared with everyone. Obviously, you can also send me a private message if you have any suggestions on how to improve this ABC, or just to poke me to get my ass moving and stuff (thanks damathacus).

Helpful Links

This post has been edited by Umino on Sep 30 2008, 06:49 PM
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