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Original Stories/Prose Forum Rules and Guidelines

Welcome to the Original Stories/Prose forum! Original Stories/Prose is intended for posting your prose works and for giving and receiving comments, feedback, and critiques on them.

As a member, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the forum's rules before posting. Posting in this forum implies that you read and understand the rules and guidelines and that you accept responsibility for the appropriateness of your thread or post.

  1. Introduction
  2. General Posting Guidelines
  3. Rules & Guidelines for Posting in Original Stories/Prose
  4. Formatting Your Piece for Readers
  5. How to Give and Receive Critiques
  6. How to Report
General Posting Guidelines

Please be sure to follow the Terms of Service and Rules and Guidelines here, as in all forums.

Common violations to avoid:

Flaming & trolling. Posts directed at another member which are hateful, abusive, or intentionally inflammatory are considered flaming. Attacks on an author are flaming, not constructive criticism; but non-constructive criticism can sometimes be flaming or trolling as well.

Sexually explicit content. Posting, requesting, distributing, or offering sexually explicit material is not permitted anywhere on Gaia. Sexually explicit content includes explicit photographs, text, artwork, video, or cybersex conversations.

Plagiarism. Claiming another persons work as your own, or posting another persons work without giving proper credit are all forms of plagiarism. Plagiarism should be reported with the name of the original author and a link to the original work.

Terms of Service violations may result in a warning or a ban on your account.

If you find Terms of Service violations, or threads that may need moved to a different forum, please use an appropriate report. The procedures for doing so can be found here.

You can find online moderators by following the "View Forum Moderators" link at the top of the forum.

Gaia Staff will NEVER ask for your password! If anyone asks you for your password, report it.
Rules & Guidelines for Posting in Original Stories/Prose

Threads that Belong in This Forum

  • Fiction and Non-Fiction stories of all lengths and genres

  • Scripts and Screenplays

  • Essays, Research Papers, and Speeches

  • Threads asking for critique via PMs/email
      These threads must include at least a few of the following elements:
      • Short summary of the piece, including genre
      • Approximate length (either a word/page count or general like "novel" or "short story" )
      • Mode of communication (PMs, email, IM, etc.)
      • What you're looking for (basic or advanced editing, general or in-depth critique, one story or a long-term partnership, etc.)
      • Anything else you feel is important about yourself or the piece(s)

Commonly Misplaced Threads

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I post my homework here for critique?
    You are welcome to post your school assignments here prior to turning them in. We can help you refine existing ideas or written work by offering critique, but we are not here to supply you with ideas, accumulate research, or write on your behalf. Purchasing or selling papers/essays for gold is a serious academic violation as well as a violation of the Gaian ToS. Attempts to trade gold for papers or other homework will be deleted and may result in a temporary or permanent ban.

  • Does Gaia provide any protection against story theft?
    If someone takes your story (or you notice they have taken someone else's story, whether off the forums or from another site or published source) and they post it on Gaia claiming it as their own, report them! If someone takes your story and posts it on another site, then you will need to report them through the site which they posted it on. If it they have posted it on a personal domain, then you will need to report the site to their webhost provider.

  • Do I need to copyright my story?
    For all intents and purposes, no. In accordance with the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, copyright exists from the moment the work is created, and registration of copyright is not required. In the U.S., copyright registration is only required if you wish to make a lawsuit against someone for stealing your work. If you are not from the U.S., you should check your country's copyright laws to see what is needed in case legal action is necessary.

  • Is it true that I can't publish something if I posted it on the internet?
    Generally, the answer is yes. If you post something on the internet then you have claimed first publishing rights, which is what the publishers want. The simple reasoning for this is if people can read your story for free, why should the publisher pay you for it? Even if you have taken your story down, it probably still exists on the internet in some form or another, just hidden, but you've still claimed first publishing rights. Are publishers going to go searching the internet to check if you've posted something? Probably not, but it's better to be safe than sorry. If you want to publish something, it's best not to post it anywhere on the internet. However, you can post small sections of a longer work you're planning to publish without hurting your chances of publication.

Formatting Your Piece for Readers

The Formatting Basics
  • Proofread to catch glaring errors. If you can't make at least a token effort to make your work readable, then it's not likely people are going to make the effort needed to read through your mistakes. If you're not good at doing this to your own work, get a friend or family member to help you do it before you post.

  • Spellcheck. This goes right along with proofreading. If your word processor doesn't have spellcheck, you can use SpellCheck.net. But remember, spellcheck won't catch words that are spelled right but still wrong (ex. there, their, and their, a instead of an, etc.).

  • Put an extra space between paragraphs. Tabs and indents won't transfer from your word processor to Gaia, so it's necessary to put an extra space between paragraphs instead. And remember to break your piece into paragraphs properly, instead of having a huge wall of text. As a general rule, when the subject changes or a new person speaks, a new paragraph should start.

    Example Text
    'Perhaps it doesn't understand English,' thought Alice; 'I daresay it's a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror.' (For, with all her knowledge of history, Alice had no very clear notion how long ago anything had happened.) So she began again: "Ou est ma chatte?" which was the first sentence in her French lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver all over with fright. "Oh, I beg your pardon!" cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the poor animal's feelings. "I quite forgot you didn't like cats."

    "Not like cats!" cried the Mouse, in a shrill, passionate voice. "Would you like cats if you were me?"

    "Well, perhaps not," said Alice in a soothing tone: "don't be angry about it. And yet I wish I could show you our cat Dinah: I think you'd take a fancy to cats if you could only see her. She is such a dear quiet thing," Alice went on, half to herself, as she swam lazily about in the pool, "and she sits purring so nicely by the fire, licking her paws and washing her face--and she is such a nice soft thing to nurse--and she's such a capital one for catching mice--oh, I beg your pardon!" cried Alice again, for this time the Mouse was bristling all over, and she felt certain it must be really offended. "We won't talk about her any more if you'd rather not."

    "We indeed!" cried the Mouse, who was trembling down to the end of his tail. "As if I would talk on such a subject! Our family always hated cats: nasty, low, vulgar things! Don't let me hear the name again!"

    - from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • Leave the font the default size. Small font on a computer screen is hard on the eyes, and not everybody can read it. Likewise, huge font is overly annoying.

  • Leave the font the default color. Bright fonts or pale fonts are hard to read and hard on the eyes.

  • Leave the text the default left-aligned. Not only is centered or right-aligned font annoying to read, it's not the norm for prose. For scripts and screenplays, centered text is okay.

  • Don't horizontally stretch the page. If you're putting in breaks between scenes, or have a banner code for people to link your thread, make sure that they don't stretch the page. People aren't going to read your work if they have to side-scroll to see everything.

How to Get People to Read
  • Format your work in an easy-to-read manner. Follow the section above for maximum reader ease. The more pleasing your work is to the eye, the easier it will be to get people to start reading. A little bit of spice is okay to liven things up, but don't go overboard with the graphics and fonts.

  • Include the length, genre, and type of prose in your thread title or first post. This lets people know with just a quick look what to expect so they can figure out if it's something they want to read.

  • Avoid excessive bumping. Besides being against the forum rules, filling your topic with posts might deter people who think either your story is super-long, or you've got enough other commenters that they don't need to take the time to try and help.

  • Post all chapters in the same thread. Making a separate threads for each chapter/part of your story makes it harder for readers to find things, and clutters the forum. If you want a nicer-looking thread you can reserve posts first, or you can put a table of contents at the beginning with links to each post as you add new chapters.

  • Read and reply to others. Networking is a great way to get more comments. Reading others' stories and posting helpful replies ("Great story! Read mine?" is not a helpful reply, and is spam) makes them more likely to do the same for you. Posting a link in your reply is discouraged. Instead...

  • Advertise your story in your signature. Your signature is your own personalized advertising space that follows you around. Use it to your advantage! Posting advertisements in other's threads is against the rules, so this is your main way of spreading your work.

Solutions for Messed-Up Characters
  • Text from different word processors transfers in different ways. If you're seeing question marks, boxes, or other weird symbols where there should be quotations marks and such, then you'll need to play around with your browser's settings. Go to View >> Character Encoding (or something that mentions encoding; it may be different depending on what browser you use), and play around with the settings. Switching from Unicode to Western usually does the trick.
How to Give and Receive Critiques

By posting your work in this forum, it is assumed that you are looking for some form of critique or feedback. If you would rather not have anyone pointing what's wrong with your story, or if you simply can't handle criticism, please make it clear at the beginning of your first post or in the title of your thread.

How to Give Constructive Criticism
Constructive criticism, often shortened to concrit, is a form of criticism that, in addition to pointing out the flaws of a work, offers advice for improvement. Here is a simple three-part formula for giving concrit:

  • One part praise
    Find something they did well and comment on it first.

  • One part pain
    Identify a few of the major flaws and briefly describe them--there is no need to extensively hammer on minor issues, especially if others have already made note of them.

  • One part prescription
    Give a suggestion or two for how to fix the flaws you pointed out, and/or ideas for future development.

How to Tell the Difference Between Harsh Criticism and Flaming

  • Criticism, however harsh, should never attack the author themselves. It is not the author being critiqued, but the writing.

  • Authors must be able to set aside their pride when looking for critique. While harsh, something like the example below is a critique and not an attack on you, the author. While it's not constructive criticism, it's still criticism of the flaws of the piece itself.
    The premise of this story is tired and overdone, the main character is a blatant Mary-Sue, and the grammar errors make my eyes bleed.

  • It's understood that as an author your work is a part of you and you want to protect it, but if you do nothing but defend your errors then your writing will not improve. You will need to separate yourself from your writing.

  • Critiquers, please exercise your best judgment when selecting what language to use for your criticism. Try to be as polite as you can and leave out things which might be construed as sarcasm. Over the internet this is hard, but it is possible to give a critique without hurting the author's feelings.

  • Non-constructive criticism can also be flaming. The following are a few examples of what is not tolerated in this forum:
    Your story sucks. Go back to elementary school and learn some grammar, idiot.

    This is the worst pile of crap I've ever read. My eyeballs, they burn. burning_eyes

    You fail. GTFO.
How to Report

Abuse of the report system will result in a warning or ban of your account.

Report a Post

Use the User Image button when an individual post in a topic contains inappropriate content.

    Reasons to Report a Post:

    • The content of the post violates the Terms of Service or forum rules.

    • The content of the post is off-topic.

    • The member who made the post has a signature which violates the rules.

Report a Topic

Use the Report this Topic button at the bottom of the page when a topic is not appropriate for the forum.

    Reasons to Report a Topic:

    • The topic violates the Terms of Service or forum rules.

    • The topic is in the wrong forum and should be moved to a more appropriate forum.

If you need to contact a moderator via Private Message, please use the "View Forum Moderator" link at the top of this forum to find a moderator.

Report Hacking, Scamming or Abuse & Harassment?

The Hacking, Scamming and Abuse or Harassment report forms can be found at the bottom of the forum index. When submitting a report, ensure that you fill out all fields and include as much relevant information as possible.

    Report A Hacking
    Use this form to report a Hacking. Hacking, on Gaia Online, refers to the unauthorized access of an account by someone other than the account owner. In most typical hacking cases, an unauthorized person enters an account which does not belong to him or her and takes items or gold from the account, often changing the account information so that the original owner can no longer access his or her account.

    Report A Scamming
    Use this form to report a Scamming. Scamming is when another member of Gaia takes your gold or items, or tries to take your gold or items, by making false promises of giving you rare items, get-rich-quick schemes, or by any other deceptive means. Scamming generally involves a situation in which two members of Gaia make an arrangement to trade gold, items, or a Gaia approved service (e.g. avatar art commission) with each other and then one of the parties involved in the arrangement fails to live up to his or her promise of an exchange.

    Report Abuse or Harassment
    Use this form to report ongoing Abuse or Harassment. If you are reporting harassment or abuse that is occurring directly in a thread, please use the "Report This Post" button instead.

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