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Polishing Your Fic, RP Dialogue, and Other Written Fanworks: An Overview


If you're interested in ways to polish your writing here and elsewhere, read on! I write and edit professionally, so I'm familiar with thorny questions of spelling, word choice, punctuation, and grammar. I'll be updating this thread periodically as I think of new tips.

  • Even if you know a fandom well, it's important to do your homework. Otherwise, readers will be distracted by unexpected diversions from the game, anime, or manga canon. (The guidelines are probably looser for crossovers, but you should still get enough details right to avoid unnecessary distractions.)
  • Check to see which moves are legal for a given Pokémon species. You shouldn't have an Absol using Surf. If you're using the game canon, you may also want to make sure that you're using moves that are accurate for a particular generation—Pikachu shouldn't know Surf unless you're writing an eighth-generation story or you're referring to one of the special surfing Pikachu from earlier generations. (Admittedly, I don't watch the anime, so the rules may be different there.) You can check Serebii, Bulbapedia, or Smogon for valid movesets. You should also be realistic when describing moves—Jolteon shouldn't be able to defeat Rhyhorn with Thunderbolt, and moves like Hyper Beam should miss occasionally. (For extra-old-school stories, Tackle should also miss every so often.)
  • Remember that Pokémon are allowed to know only four moves.
  • Are the Pokémon you're including accurate for the region? Of course, people can breed and import foreign Pokémon, but they shouldn't be encountered in the wild. Pikachu shouldn't appear in the wild in Unova, and wild Mareep shouldn't be in Galar, most versions of Hoenn, or Kanto.
  • Think about the Pokémon a Trainer might use. You can check a Pokémon wiki for preexisting characters' teams, but for original characters, you'll have to think more deeply. Don't let the Rule of Cool blind you to characterization. Would a young Trainer from a remote town start their journey with Lucario, Garchomp, Dragapult, Calyrex, Gyarados, and Gardevoir? Probably not. A Pokémon Professor might give them a Riolu, Dreepy, Gible, or Ralts, but not Garchomp or Lucario. Gyarados would be plausible toward the middle or end of the character's journey if they decided to catch a Magikarp and raise it. If you're writing an Ace Trainer, don't give them a team comprising Rattata, Zubat, and Purrloin—those Pokémon are more appropriate for Youngsters and evil-team Grunts. Youngsters and Lasses should have common Pokémon such as Skwovet, Chewtle, Caterpie, and Patrat.
  • If you're creating a new evil team, you should identify a theme: are they Dark-type enthusiasts, or are they more Normal- or Poison-oriented? You may want to use some evil-team staples, such as Golbat, Raticate, Watchog, or Weezing, or you may want to change things up: imagine an evil team that uses predominantly Ghost-types. Gengar, Mismagius, Dusknoir, Sableye, and Trevenant would fit nicely.
  • Be sure to look up the correct spellings of NPCs, anime characters, locations, Pokémon species, and items before you start writing. Some tricky ones:
    • It's not "Jhoto"; it's "Johto."
    • Hoenn has two Ns.
    • Greedent, not "Greedant" or "Greedunt."
    • Rattata, not "Ratata" or "Ratatta."
    • Gyarados, not "Gyrados."
    • Alcremie, not "Alcreamie."
    • Pawniard, not "Pawnyard."
    • Drednaw, not "Dreadnaw."
    • Forretress, not "Foretress," unless you're writing its name in French.

Tricky Words
  • "Accommodate" has two Ms and two Cs; it's not "accomodate" or "acommodate."
  • "After all," not "afterall."
  • Use "all right," NEVER "alright" or "allright." Remember that "all right" is like "all done," "all over," and "all set," not "already."
  • "A lot," NEVER "alot." Although a lot of people write "alot," it's still nonstandard.
  • "Anyways" should not be used outside dialogue unless you're writing in the first person. The standard expression is "anyway."
  • "At least" is always two words. Do not use "atleast."
  • "Aswell" is not a word—it's a phrase, "as well."
  • "Best friend" is never a single word.
  • There is no such word as "eachother."
  • "Everytime" is not a word. Make "every time" two words every time you use it.
  • "High school" is two words, not one.
  • "In fact," "in case," "in front," "in between," and "on top" are all two-word phrases. Avoid "incase," "infact," "inbetween," and "ontop."
  • Like "anyways," "irregardless" should never appear outside dialogue.
  • "It's" means "it is"; "its" means "belonging to it." Alongside "alot," "alright," and the use of "your" for "you're," this is one of the most common errors I encounter in fanfiction. Never write its', with the apostrophe after the s.
  • "More so" is two words.
  • "Never mind" is always two words.
  • It's "OK," "okay," or "O.K.," not "ok" or "Ok."
  • Poké Ball is two words, not one. The same applies to the Master Ball—it's not a "Masterball."
  • "Professor," not "proffesor."
  • "Someone," "anyone," and "everyone" are all one word, just like "somebody," "anybody," "everybody," and "nobody." "No one," on the other hand, is two words—do not write "noone."
  • "They're" means "they are," "their" means "belonging to them," and "there" means "not here."
  • "To," "too," and "two" cannot be interchanged; they all mean different things.
    • Examples:
      • I think it's a good idea TO use spellcheck before writing a post.
      • I caught TWO Magikarp.
      • This story is TOO long.
  • "Who's" is short for "who is"; "whose" means "belonging to whom."
  • It's "writing," not "writting."
  • "You're" means "you are"; "your" means "belonging to you."