Thinking about writing a story? Believe it or not, presentation will be one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor, of your fanfiction. Many readers, myself included, are completely turned off by an author who doesn’t take the time to spell check his/her story. Please remember: if you do not take your story seriously enough to do spell check, how do you expect us to take it seriously while reading it? I hope everyone will read this and refer to it when they’re having problems with their grammar. Absolutely nobody is perfect, but when you write something and put it online, you should at least try your hardest to improve the quality of your story. Hopefully, this will help. So let’s go. I. Commonly Misused Words 1. They’re, Their, and There - Their is the possessive form of ‘they’. - They’re is a contraction of ‘they are’. - There is a location. - Example: The Vegas crew got their equipment ready. “The bodies are over there,” said Brass, “and they’re pretty messed up.” 2. Your and You’re - Your is the possessive form of ‘you’. - You’re is the contraction of ‘you are’. - Example: “You’re crazy, Grissom,” exclaimed Catherine. “There’s no way your spider can talk.” 3. It’s and Its - It’s is a contraction of ‘it is’. - Its is a possessive pronoun (like hers, his, etc). An apostrophe is never used. - Example: “It’s not a crocodile, it’s an alligator,” said Delko, “and its tooth is stuck in the victim’s arm.” 4. Who’s and Whose - Who’s is a contraction of ‘who is’. - Whose is the possessive form of ‘who’. - Example: “Whose milk is this?” Grissom wondered. Examining the carton closely, he asked out loud, “Who’s always leaving unlabeled milk in the refrigerator?” 5. Two, Too, and To - Two is a number. - Too is a synonym for ‘also’ and an adverb that describes quantity. - To is a preposition. - Example: “Hey, you two,” said Mac, pointing at Danny and Aiden. “Head down to Coney Island; take Stella, too. But leave your coats here; it’s too hot out there.” 6. No, Know, and Now - No means no. - Know means ‘to be aware of’. - Now is the momentary present. - Example: “No,” said the suspect, “I don’t know how my fingerprints got on that gun. Can I leave now?” 7. Thought, Though, and Tough - Thought means to have or formulate in the mind. - Though means despite the fact that; although. - Tough means 'strong'. - Example: "I thought the suspect was in jail already," Catherine said, "but the guard says he escaped. I don't know how that's possible, though now that I think about it, he was always very tough." II. The Space Between 1. No one is never written as ‘noone’ or 'none'. 2. A lot is never ‘alot’. 3. A part and apart are two different things. A part is a piece of something (example: The eyepiece is a part of the microscope). Apart is to be separate (example: How can we tell the two suspects apart? They're twins!) 4. The word breakdown, as in 'emotional breakdown', is never written as 'break down'. Same goes for 'shakedown'. 'Break down' is a completely different phrase. 5. Everyone refers to people. It's never 'every one' unless you're talking about objects. Example: Every one of those chairs is broken. I hope everyone sits on the floor instead. III. This vs That 1. Than vs Then - Than is used for comparison. - Then is used to indicate time or consequence. - Example: Warrick was taller than Nicky. This bothered Nicky a lot; he threw a hissy fit, then walked away. But then, he came back and apologized. 2. Isle vs Aisle - Isle is a small island. - Aisle is a passageway between seating areas. - Example: After Eric and Calleigh walked down the aisle, they headed for their honeymoon in their favorite isle. 3. Lose vs Loose - Lose is the failure to get, obtain, or win. - Loose is something that is not bound or fastened or gathered together. - Example: Warrick was going to lose all his money in the casinos. When he arrived his pockets were full of money, and now his pants were getting loose. Boy, did he feel like a loser. 4. Chose vs Choose - Chose is past tense. - Choose is present tense. - Example: "Yesterday, I chose the salad," thought Stella out loud. "Today, I will choose the vegetable lasagna." 5. Waste vs Waist - Waste is garbage or useless activity. - Waist is the narrowing of the body between the ribs and hips. - Example: "Delko, why do you always waste my time?" asked Speed, annoyed. "Just tie that rope around your waist and let's go." 6. Accept vs Except - Accept is to receive willingly something given or offered. - Except is to take exception to. - Example: “Okay, Greg, I will accept your presents,” Sara said. "Except the salted ham. I'm a vegetarian, remember?" 7. This vs These - This is singular. Example: This chair. - These is plural. Example: These chairs. 8. Breathe vs Breath - Breathe is a verb. - Breath is a noun. - Example: "Is it possible for corpses to breathe, Alexx?" Horatio asked. "Cause I can feel this body's breath on my arm." 9. Stake vs Steak - Stake is a instrument of execution or a right or legal share of something. - Steak is a cut of meat. - Example: While Danny played a high stake game of poker in Atlantic City, Sheldon sulked in his apartment, eating a big piece of steak. He briefly wondered if the stake they used to kill the cow had been washed first. 10. Break vs Brake - Break is the act of delaying or interrupting the continuity. - Brake is a restraint used to slow or stop a vehicle. - Example: "Hit the brakes, Nick," said Greg, "before we slam into a wall and break Grissom's microscope into a million pieces." 11. Wander vs Wonder - Wander is to move about aimlessly or without any destination. - Wonder is a state in which you want to learn more about something. - Example: While Sara wandered around the desert, she wondered if she would ever be able to survive the heat. Wonder Woman would never have this problem. 12. Man and Woman vs Men and Women - 'Man' and 'woman' are singular. - 'Men' and 'women' are plural. - This is easy if you try to remember that the letter a will always signify singular while the letter e signifies plural. Think about it. A man. These men. - Example: "The women in that room are free to go," said Detective Flack to one of his officers. "But keep that woman; she looks very suspicious." IV. Sloppiness is NOT an option While anybody can make a mistake (hey, even spell checkers aren't perfect), there shouldn’t be an excuse for sloppy punctuation. Everybody learns this in second grade. So, if you're in third grade or higher, you should know this already. Whether you want to believe it or not, punctuation says a lot about the author. If I stumble upon an author who doesn't use commas, periods, etc, I will assume he/she is not very bright or is very lazy. Either way, it doesn't make you look good. So do yourself a favor and always take the time to check for punctuation. 1. A sentence always starts with a capital letter and ends in any form of punctuation. 2. It's not a very good idea to use more than one exclamation point. An exclamation point denotes excitement. Excitement is a binary state: either you're excited, or you're not. Therefore, using more than one exclamation point is redundant. The same goes for question marks. 3. Apostrophes are never used to indicate plural. A group of women named Sara are not Sara's. They're Saras. 4. A semicolon is used to join two sentences slightly more closely than they would be joined if separated by a full stop (or period). It often replaces a conjunction such as 'and' or 'but'. A writer might consider this appropriate where they are trying to indicate a close relationship between two sentences, or a 'run-on' in meaning from one to the next; they don't wish the connection to be broken by the abrupt use of a full-stop. 5. Names should never be written in lower case. There is no excuse for this. Similarly, Random Capitalization Is Very Distracting And A Major Grammar Faux Pas. Unless the word is a name (person, place or thing), starts a sentence, or is a title preceding a name, do not capitalize it. 6. NetSpeak is not cool. It's never been cool. It'll never be cool. So 'you' is always 'you', never 'u'. 'What' is never 'wot', 'that' is never 'dat', etc. 7. If you use a parenthesis, punctuate the phrase inside the parenthesis. Though no capitalization or period is necessary, they phrase acts like a sentence of its own. Remember: Parenthesis (aren't they cool?) act as an independent sentence, therefore punctuation (semi-colons, commas, exclamation points, etc., but no periods) is necessary. 8. Spell checkers aren't proof readers. I know everyone wants to post their story right away so they can get their feedback as soon as possible, but always take the time to beta your story. It's a great idea to get a friend or a beta to read it for you. A fresh pair of eyes can pick up errors your tired eyes could never spot. Just make sure the person who is editing for you has a good knowledge of English grammar. Imagine how much more feedback you'll get when people see how great your story looks! 9. Please take some time to research. Never underestimate your reader. The great thing about CSI fans is that we're naturally fascinated by science. And people who are fascinated by science know their science. So don't try to fool us into thinking a body can decompose in 5 hours. We know it can't. If there's something you don't know or don't understand, well, you're already online. Google it! At the end of this post I've included a list of links that can help you out with the science of the show. V. How to Format Your Story This is important, too. These rules exist so your reader can understand your story a little better. So please keep them in mind as you write your fanfic. Writing Dialogue When you're writing dialogue, you have to follow the rules of punctuation. When your character speaks, enclose their sentences in apostrophes as so: "Sara, come here," said Grissom. "I think I got a break in our case." "Sara, come here," said Grissom. is considered a whole sentence. That's why a comma is used after 'come here', because the sentence continues until 'Grissom'. If you switch the format, the sentence ends inside the apostrophes as so: Grissom examined the evidence under his microscope's lens and smiled. He looked up and said, "Sara, come here. I think I got a break in our case." Story Format How many times have your read an entire story that took place in one single paragraph? How many times did you roll your eyes? A lot, I bet. Formatting a story helps the reader jump from point of view to point of view, from scene to scene, from character to character. It's very hard for us to understand your story if everything is cluttered together. So follow this rule when you write a story. Wrong Format: Grissom walked into his office and threw his briefcase on his chair. Catherine appeared behind him and watched him with a concerned look in her eyes. She knew he hadn't been sleeping well lately and she worried about his health. Grissom felt someone behind him and turned around; a weak smile appeared on his face when he saw Catherine there. Hello Catherine he said. How are you tonight. I'm fine Grissom said Catherine. Did you get some sleep today? Just a little said Grissom. Catherine smiled and made a mental note to drive him home in the morning so she could make sure he slept well. Correct Format: Grissom walked into his office and threw his briefcase on his chair. Catherine appeared behind him and watched him with a concerned look in her eyes. She knew he hadn't been sleeping well lately and she worried about his health. Grissom felt someone behind him and turned around; a weak smile appeared on his face when he saw Catherine there. "Hello, Catherine," he said. "How are you tonight?" "I'm fine Grissom," said Catherine. "Did you get some sleep today?" "Just a little," said Grissom. Catherine smiled and made a mental note to drive him home in the morning so she could make sure he slept well. As you can see, a new paragraph is used not just to introduce a new speaker, but to jump from point of view to point of view, as well. Usually, one space is left between the paragraphs. This will help your readers identify the speaker. VI. Characterization Characterization will probably be the hardest part about your story, because characterization is mostly intuitive. However, common knowledge can help you get a 'sense' of what these characters are thinking, how they talk, and how they would react to certain situations. 1. Calleigh Duquesne is from the South. While it's very likely that she would say, "You are all idiots," she would most likely say, "Y'all are idiots." As a side note, though, please don't go overboard with the Southern slang. Calleigh has been living in Miami for years now; she has probably lost some of her Southern speaking charm. Even on the show, she's only said 'y'all' a couple of times. Please don't make her sound like an uneducated slack-jawed yokel. She's not. 2. Ethnic backgrounds: Warrick Brown is half white, half African American. Eric Delko is half Cuban, half Russian. Warrick grew up in a black neighborhood; Eric grew up in a Cuban neighborhood. Though both characters use slang (mostly they use the word ‘man’ a lot), neither of them is very likely to say, “Yo, dog, we be waitin’ for yous all dayz. Where ya been?" 3. The characters of all three CSIs are in their late twenties, in their thirties, forties, and fifties. They are highly educated and eloquent people. Therefore, Grissom would never say something like, "Oh my God, Catherine! I was, like, driving over and I hit this guy and it totally wrecked my car! Doesn't that suck sooooooo bad?" Even Lindsey doesn't talk like that. 4. With the character's history and a little psychology, you can write a story in which all your characters are in-character. For example, Calleigh's father is an alcoholic. Children who grow up in dysfunctional households tend to be emotionally withdrawn as adults. As a result of her father's alcoholism, Calleigh is very protective of her emotions. She didn't even cry when Speed died. So be careful how you write her in your story. It would take a lot of emotional stress to break her down. On the other hand, Sara also grew up in a dysfunctional household (it's been implied as of S5Ep3), but unlike Calleigh, Sara does tend to get very emotional. Though psychology says Sara should be emotionally withdrawn, her personality tells us she's not. So be careful with things like that. Not everyone reacts the same way to a certain situation. VII. The Name Game If you're not sure how to spell the name 'Grissom', don't take a wild guess. You wouldn't want to be wrong, right? So here's the name of every CSI character and the correct way to spell it: Las Vegas: - Gil G-R-I-S-S-O-M (as of S5Ep3 it's not Gilbert, but it might change in future episodes) - Catherine W-I-L-L-O-W-S - W-A-R-R-I-C-K Brown - Sara S-I-D-L-E - Nicholas 'Nick' or 'Nicky' S-T-O-K-E-S - Greg S-A-N-D-E-R-S - Jim B-R-A-S-S - Al 'Doc' R-O-B-B-I-N-S Miami: - H-O-R-A-T-I-O Caine - C-A-L-L-E-I-G-H D-U-Q-U-E-S-N-E - Eric D-E-L-K-O ('Delektorsky' before his father changed it) - A-L-E-X-X Woods - Timothy 'Tim' or 'Speed' S-P-E-E-D-L-E - Y-E-L-I-N-A Salas - Megan D-O-N-N-E-R - Frank T-R-I-P-P New York: - Mack 'Mac' T-A-Y-L-O-R - Stella B-O-N-A-S-E-R-A - Donald 'Don' F-L-A-C-K Jr. - A-I-D-E-N Burn - Daniel 'Danny' M-E-S-S-E-R - S-H-E-L-D-O-N Hawkes Side note: be careful with nicknames. Has anyone one the show ever called Sara 'Sar'? If no one has, then maybe it's not a good idea to call her Sar in your story, unless it's by a family member or an original character. Similarly, most everyone called Speedle 'Speed'. Only Alexx called him Timmy; very few people called him Tim. Some people call Catherine 'Cath', but never 'Cathy'. Speed always called Eric 'Delko'; Horatio and Calleigh call him 'Eric'. This is a very important part of characterization. The fact that only Alexx gets away with calling Speed 'Timmy' shows they were very close. This can give you an idea of where the characters stand in relation to each other. VIII. Other Resources If you're an avid writer, as I am, it would be a great idea to bookmark these websites for future reference: - Dictionary.com - Thesaurus.com - Spell Check.net - Free spell checker online. - CSI @ CBS - CSI: Miami @ CBS - CSI: New York @ CBS - Elyse's Comprehensive CSI Web Site - Forensic Evidence.com - Forensic Files - Also a great TV Show - The American Academy of Forensic Science - Insects and Entomology - ISU website - Forensic Science Resources - More links than you can shake a stick at. Well, this is the end, my friends. I hope at least one person finds this information useful. I'd also like to let you know that if anyone is having a hard time finding a beta or an editor, you can PM me and I'd be more than happy to help you out. If anyone has something to add (more grammar information or any links) feel free to comment. I'll make this thread a sticky so you can come back and check it out as many times as you want.