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- Writing an SCP
- Developing Thoughts
- Writing Style
So You Want To Write an SCP
You're reading How to Write an SCP 2.0. If you're reading this, you're probably a member of the SCP Foundation and want to try your hand at an article. This page is to help point you in the right direction when getting started. Read it carefully, don't skim it. After you've finished, read it again, because you're a human being (right?) and you'll have missed stuff.
Before You Start: Some Things to Consider
In general, successful SCP articles have most or all of the following components:
- An interesting idea.
- Reasonable containment procedures.
- A clear description.
These are necessary for a good SCP. An SCP should immediately draw the reader in; they can't be muddled under a lot of exposition. Try to get a clear idea of what your SCP does before starting.
Many first SCP articles fail miserably for one reason or another, primarily due to the writer's lack of experience.
This is not an excuse for not even trying
This is not a curse befalling all new members
This is not just a fact of life or a universal truth
This is a challenge
Some first SCPs do wonderfully, because their authors either had an instant understanding of what and how to write (which is rare) or because they took their time getting their bearings and learning the lay of the land. To help you avoid that dreaded failed first SCP, always ask for feedback on the Drafts & Critiques forum or in our IRC rooms. Take this feedback to heart, even if it's blunt and direct. If you feel someone left insulting feedback, you can always contact a member of staff. If boundaries were crossed, we'll take action.
Low-rated pages are always deleted from the site once they are rated -9 or lower and have been on the wiki for the requisite 24 hours (see the Deletions Guide for more info), so don't get too down about it if something you wrote is deleted. If your first SCP does fail, try to learn from the experience. See if the idea is salvageable, find out what worked and what didn't in terms of writing. Sometimes your skill as a writer isn't up to the level of your idea, and keeping track of your old ones for re-writing is a good tactic. You can always keep those in your sandbox. If you find that you have a problem with the clinical tone required, but you have a good grasp of the Foundationverse and the subjects and themes it explores, you can always try your hand at writing tales. Tales are in no way less than SCP articles.
Also, please note that posting a crappy SCP to 'get the bad luck out' does nothing except clutter the site up with crap. When writing your first SCP, put your best foot forward, because it is part of the standard by which your future works will be judged. Make jokes in chat. Put actual work up on the site. It'll make people think better of you, it helps improve the site, and it sets an example for the other newbies.
Really, the best possible piece of advice that any of us can give is to be patient. Sit back and lurk; we've got all kinds of articles. Spend some time to get an idea of how the site works. See what's good and what's bad, what's highest-rated and what gets downvoted. Learn what kinds of things people look for in an article; you'll be better equipped to succeed in your writing.
What Do You Do Next?
To see what you should do next to write your own SCP, return to the top of this document and choose another tab.
Welcome To The Rules Page!
The following actions will never result in banning:
- Writing shitty SCPs;
- Voting on any particular article as an expression of opinion on its quality or merits;
- Respectful disagreement with staff decisions;
- Having an unpopular opinion.
- Arguments and Maturity: You may question the actions of other users and staff as long as it is done in a calm, mature fashion.
- Posting: Do not spam the site with shitty articles. If staff tell you to slow down or stop posting, listen to them.
- Comments: You can comment on any entry provided you are respectful to other users. All comments must follow the Criticism Policy. No personal attacks or trolling.
- Voting: You may vote for any reason you like, so long as your reasons are based solely on the content of the article. Do not downvote/upvote based on your opinion of the author, an effort to manipulate averages, or trying to win contests through attrition, as this is considered malicious voting. Advocating for voting on an article for reasons other than content is strictly against the rules.
- Upvoting your own article: You can upvote or even downvote your article as you like. Keep in mind that this used to be against the rules, so you may get negative comments from other users who are working off of outdated information. But it's up to you.
- Plagiarism: You may not plagiarize the works of other people. Plagiarism is to copy or borrow heavily from another work and pass it off as your own. Doing so will result in the work being summarily deleted.
- Using images: Remember, images included in your article must follow the rules of our Image Use Policy as well. You must include the source of your images on the discussion page, and this source must be in compliance with our site policy and license. If you have any questions, contact the images team.
- Forums: Don't make contentless or excessively short posts (spam), don't bump threads (since bump posts are essentially spam), and don't post on threads more than a few months old if you're not contributing substantially to the conversation.
- Edit your previous posts using the "edit" function under the "options" tab to the lower right of every comment.
- Any images posted to forum or discussion threads must be collapsed (collapsible coding can be found in the "Formatting" tab of this guide).
- Responding to Edits of Your Articles: You may undo edits to your own articles at will. Please do not edit or remove tags added by staff members.
- Editing Other Articles: You may make minor edits for grammar or spelling to other peoples' articles. Please fill out the 'Short description of changes' box. Major edits require permission from the original author or staff. Stylistic and tonal edits are considered major edits.
- Collaborative Logs: You are free to add content to open collaborative logs. These pages are tagged as "collaboration". Poor content will be removed by the page owner or staff. Do not take it upon yourself to fix unauthorized or bad edits to any page.
Interacting With Staff
- Moderative Posts: Moderative posts will have a specific title. These titles are used to indicate specific types of posts, and should only be responded to in certain situations. This exact text will be in the post itself:
- Call for Rewrite: Anyone wanting to volunteer to rewrite a page or discuss the rewriting of a page may respond to this post.
- Deletion Vote: Anyone wanting to request a stay of deletion or ask for the opportunity to rewrite may respond to this post. Do not 'vote' unless you are staff.
- Stop Order - Do not respond to this post unless you are staff
- Closed - Do not respond to this post unless you are staff.
- Open - You may respond to this post.
- Staff Requests: If a staff member asks you to change something about your behavior, or to temporarily stop making certain kinds of posts, please do so. This may take the form of Staff Posts replying to you in the forums; this means that you have the responsibility of returning to recent conversations (or checking Recent Forum Posts) to find out if staff are trying to give you pertinent instructions.
- Ended Discussions: If a staff member ends a discussion, it is over. Do not try to get the final word in; just stop.
- Staff Decisions/Appealing: Respect Staff decisions, even if you disagree with them. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, please appeal to a different staff member. If the situation is found fair, do not continue to appeal to other staff members in hopes of getting a different response.
If you feel a user has violated any of the rules on this page, please contact a staff member.
The normal policy for punishing offenders breaks down like this:
- Short Ban (Usually 24 Hours)
- Long Ban (Usually 48 Hours to a Week)
- Permanent Ban
Before being banned, you will usually be warned to tone down your behavior. If a staff member has to talk to you about your behavior or a mod post is made about your behavior, and you disregard it, then staff will move to the banning phase.
The most common way to receive a twenty-four hour ban is by violating one of the rules mentioned above. Additional violations equal longer bans. An instant permanent ban only results from vandalism, blatant and obvious trolling, harassment of a site member, sockpuppetry, or other severe misconducts.
A Quick Side Note: After banning, you will have to reapply for site membership. If you want to rejoin the community, you should follow the same process as all new members.
Any and all of these rights, obligations, and punishments are subject to alteration, deletion or addition after review by the Staff.
Introduction to #Site19
#Site19 is the general chat channel for the SCP Foundation.
- Talking about SCPs.
- Getting advice about your article draft.
- Socializing with site members from around the world, both new people and site veterans.
Chat is open to anyone. You don't have to be a site member to join.
If you have more questions, please feel free to ask chat operators for assistance.
Remember, to join chat, you must have read and understood the guide!
More questions? Feel free to join #site17 and ask staff anything.
Is SCP real?
No. We are a creative writing website. All the SCPs are fictional. The Foundation is fictional.
How can I join the SCP Foundation?
Go to our Join Page. Remember to follow all the instructions.
Can the memetic hazards hurt me? Will I die if I ignore a security warning? Will anything happen to me in real life from reading these pages?
No. The "memetic hazards" are just random pictures. The security warnings are just to tell the reader how much the Foundation thinks these things are important and scary. They're not real.
I saw an SCP! / I think I am an SCP! What do I do?
No, you didn't. SCPs are fiction that we wrote. Also, we are not a roleplaying site!
Do you all write this stuff, or did someone else?
We wrote all this stuff. We are a community of writers.
I want to create a project based on the SCP Foundation. Can I do that?
Yes! See our Licensing Guide for more information. The short version:
- Yes, you can make money off of anything — except the image of SCP-173. But you must follow the license.
- The Creative Commons license means anyone else can copy and profit off of anything you make if they wish.
- You do have to credit us and link our site.
- No, we can't take off the Creative Commons license. Not "won't" — "can't".
- Yes, we will help you sort out licensing confusion if you ask.
I have a question about Containment Breach.
We are not the official site for Containment Breach, because we didn't create Containment Breach. Check out its official site here: http://www.scpcbgame.com/
I have a question about TheVolgun's voiceover work.
We are not the official site for TheVolgun's (awesome) work. Check out their Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheVolgun
Why is the age limit 15?
Because fifteen is the age when most people are mature enough to be part of our community.
I'm mature enough, but I'm not 15. Can you make an exception?
No, sorry. Even if it's true, everyone says that. Plus, it wouldn't be fair to everyone else who follows the rules. If you tell us you're under fifteen, or if we figure it out, we have to ban you.
However, unless you're a jerk about it, we'll be happy to let you in as soon as you turn fifteen.
Can I draw or make artwork about an SCP? Can I show you?
In order to maintain our standards of quality, pages found to be substandard by the community through the voting system (e.g. the Rating Box) are removed by Staff. There are exceptions for submissions that are found to be in violation of site policy. No matter the reason for deletion, deletions are always announced on the forum in the most recent Deletions thread, with reasons clearly given.
Pages are typically afforded a grace period of 24 hours after the posting of a deletion vote, during which time they are not eligible for removal from the site, regardless of rating. If a page is one hour or one year old, it doesn't matter. Everything gets a 24-hour period.
If a page’s rating falls to -10 or lower, that page becomes eligible for deletion. A member of Senior Staff (Operational Staff or higher) will make a post in its discussion thread, titled Staff Post, suggesting deletion. This post will have a timer on it, noting how long the deletion vote has been in place. When a page reaches three Staff votes for deletion and the deletion timer has passed 24 hours, it is removed from the site.
If a page’s rating rises above -10, all Staff votes for deletion prior to this are voided. Should it fall again, voting for deletion must begin anew.
If an author requests a stay of deletion to make edits or rewrite a page, these may be granted. Consideration of these requests is on a case-by-case basis, as oftentimes, the best thing is to start again from a clean slate. Supplementary pages will be automatically deleted when their parent page is. Authors may repost supplements as standalone works to be judged separately as they see fit.
Reasons for Summary Deletion
There are instances when Staff will waive the standard deletions process and delete the article (with one other staff member needed as a witness). These situations are:
- Articles with malicious intent such as, but not limited to: links to viruses, sexually explicit material, spam, advertising, trolling, and illegal content.
- Pages that are clearly unfinished. (e.g. articles with blank sections or [insert text here] notes)
- Attempts to "game" site procedure, such as re-posting a non-rewritten article in an attempt to get around downvotes.
- Blatantly plagiarized3 material.
- An article posted outside of the current range4. Authors may repost their articles within the acceptable range as they see fit.
If an author should request their material be removed, and be able to prove authorship beyond a reasonable doubt, these requests are granted.
Authors have the ability to delete their own work at any time. This is accomplished by:
- Clicking “Options” at the bottom of the page,
- Clicking “Delete”,
- Selecting checkbox for, “Delete Completely.”
Be sure to select “Delete Completely,” as a failure to do this does not remove the page, it simply renames it. After doing so, announce your choice to delete in the most recent Deletions thread.
If an author attempts to self-delete their work and fails to do so properly, either by blanking the page or renaming it, it will be deleted fully by Staff.
Staff have a more detailed and thorough version of the deletions guide which specifies exactly how these processes take place and the policies they follow. If you're interested, take a look at the Staff Deletions Guide on the administrative site.
Though everything in the Guides is important, here are the overarching things that are the most vital.
Everything in the Guides is Important. Each required guide has been carefully reviewed and edited by Staff members to ensure clarity and brevity. Small things that are in there really are important, and I don't think I can stress that enough. This guide is here to go back over the most basic and important things, but everything matters.
We are a community… We're a creative writing site, not a corporation. Nobody has any obligation to read, critique, or vote on anything. We're also mostly college-aged or older here, and for those of us who aren't, we try to act like it. This site is something we do for fun and nothing more. Acting like an immature brat won't win you any favors.
—on the Internet… Normal Internet etiquette applies here. Not necroposting, acting mature, and respecting the staff (know who they are) are just as important here as they are on any forum or creative writing site. Utilize the chat. Also, we want you to take the site seriously if you plan on staying, but nothing here is life or death. It's the Internet; relax a little.
—full of assholes. Yep. We have extremely high standards here. No matter how good a writer or person you think you are, it's different here. Taking your time with writing and getting help in #site19 or the forums is the best way to go. We'd rather have good material than a piece of shit: period. Though the community can come off as brusque and mean at first, if you're polite, patient, and mature, we open up rather quickly.
You are not the next "thing." Nobody should expect to make the next group of interest, finally kill 682, or create the next best agent. Don't join expecting to make a huge splash. Most importantly, don't expect yourself to be superior to anyone. We generally tell people to shy away from Keter, Joke, and Humanoid SCPs for their first attempt because they're really, really hard to pull off. Anything that difficult to execute, or more difficult, should never be attempted on a first try. If you think you have a great idea to make your mark on the site, don't do it first. Please don't take this as a challenge. If you want a challenge, try to pull off 'next big thing' after you've got a few successes under your belt. Few people can pull this off either, but trying won't annoy as many of us. Maybe.
There is no single way to write. There are many different schools of thought on how to write an SCP (or tale), all of which can work. For this reason, some advice may be contradictory. In general, you can tell from a user's profile and/or authorship how good their advice is. Keep in mind that it's still your SCP though, so go with whatever idea you like best and think can work. If multiple people tell you an SCP is going to fail, it is going to fail.
Reading's really important. Read everything you can. No one will ask you to read the thousands of pages on the site, but the best way to get the grasp of site culture, tone, and other things is to read a lot. If you can't stand reading tons of pages, this site isn't for you. Also, read all the guides, because everything in them is important and if you can't manage to read six pages there's no way you're gonna last here.
Beyond this, I have decided to compress this guide into a short sentence, that you should remember during your time with us: Don't be an annoying dumbass, and read all the guides.