troperville

tools

toys

Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Administrivia: How to Write an Example
Here at TV Tropes, we like to encourage editors to dive right in and add examples without forcing them to spend months lurking around and arduously studying proper editing form and style. Unfortunately, unleashing an ever-increasing horde of eager-but-clueless contributors onto an unprepared wiki can lead to problems. With that in mind, here are some pieces of advice and common pitfalls for tropers new and old to consider when posting examples.

Contrast How Not To Write An Example.

Also see: Example Indentation in Trope Lists, TV Tropes Customs.
  • The point of an example is to convey information. Clarity is the most important aspect. "Clever" is nice, "Funny" is nice, "Detailed" is nice. But if any of them get in the way of clarity, they cease being nice additions and become a problem.

  • Aim For A Final Draft Appearance: Just adhering to this concept will help you with all the specifics below. It is not a forum so don't write in first person. Try not to write something that you know someone else has to clean up later to make it readable. This Wiki should at least look professional despite having a breezy attitude. Information should make sense years from now and not be "hot off the press" in word choice.

  • Do Not Pothole the Trope Name: When adding a trope to a work page, always use the trope's correct, unaltered title. (IE: Red Right Hand as "Red Right Paw" when troping a Funny Animal is doubleplusungood.) Potholing the trope name to be clever is way overdone, and causes problems with keeping the list alphabetical and with wick migration, among other things. There is slightly more leeway when incorporating a trope into a description. See Sink Hole for more details.

  • If you think an example is inaccurate, correct it yourself: Do not write a response below it. Cut the inaccurate part and replace it with the correct information. If there's a change to be made, make it yourself and move on. Same thing goes for this page. Remember, the person who originally typed the example does not hold a copyright to it. You can change it.

  • If the examples have been sorted, respect the sorting. Most pages for tropes are sorted by medium, while most pages for works and lists (e.g. Canonical List) are sorted alphabetically. Either way, new examples should go where they belong under the system. This helps the reader find them.
    • If the page is organized alphabetically, put it in the correct alphabetical position. See How to Alphabetize Things for more information.
    • If the page is organized by medium/genre, put a new example in as the last example in that medium/genre.
    • If the page is ranked from top to bottom, like Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness, put the example in the position that you feel is most appropriate.
    • If the page states that it's sorted some other way, follow that sorting pattern. (For example, the Authors page is sorted first chronologically (Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, and so on), then within each time period by geographic region, then within each region either chronologically again or alphabetically.)
    • If the page is not sorted, and the page has gotten long enough to need sorting, then adopt the method used by the same page type.

  • State the source: The name of the work the example comes from should be clearly stated, ideally near the beginning of the example. The name should be either italicized or put in quotes depending on the medium (if you're not sure which to use, see what someone else did for a work in the same medium). The work's name should also be put under the proper namespace (ex. VideoGame/TombRaider will give you Tomb Raider, Film/{{Titanic}} will give Titanic). Listing a character name, episode name, or actor's name is no substitute for the series name. (No, not even if you Pot Hole it.) Listing a well known quote and leaving it at that is also clumsy. Being clever is always fun but being clear is much more important. Author's names are also acceptable when referring collectively to multiple series by them.
    • State the Word of God source: While we don't require strict Wikipedia style citations, one should say where a Word of God statement originated from. Something as simple at "this interview" or "Wizard magazine issue 200" or "in the commentary on the DVD" is sufficient. This is because a lot of people like to claim such and such is Word of God to make their claims seem more valid.
    • Be Specific: There are some things that are nearly universal with a medium, Executive Meddling being one of them. But saying "An interview with person X reveals that there was a lot of Executive Meddling going on" and not explaining it is ultimately an empty example. We want to know what was screwed around with and even the why, even if it doesn't make sense.

  • Check For Duplicates: Before you hit the edit button, it's always wise to search existing examples to make sure yours hasn't already been added. If you don't want to read them all, Ctrl+F the page instead.

  • Group Examples: If something merely very similar or from a related work (such as another entry in a series) is already there, write your example into it or indent it with other examples under a description of the group. Whatever you do, don't indent an example under the first one; see Example Indentation in Trope Lists. However...

  • Do Not Group Tropes under a supertrope header. Among perennial problem children in this regard are tropes like Badass and Five-Man Band. List each individual trope example separately in its proper order. There's a section in Example Indentation in Trope Lists covering this case.

  • Make Sure it's Relevant: Entry Pimping is extremely common among editors new and old, and is the main reason most of us know anything about Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it is not without its downside. Sometimes we think we understand a trope better than we do and wind up shoehorning examples in where they don't fit as a result. Remember, always make sure to read a trope before you add an example to it. If you are still not sure if it fits, you can always click on the little "discuss" link at the top and ask someone about it. Write the example to address the trope. For example, the trope Badass Longcoat is about the garment, not the person wearing it. Your example should be more about the coat than the person. Also, think twice before citing an entire work as an example of a trope normally applied to individual characters.

  • Make Sure it's Accurate: At times there can be dozens of different tropes that describe very similar events. Be aware of those other tropes before you start shoving in wave after wave of examples into the wrong trope. We have the Canonical List of Subtle Trope Distinctions just for that purpose. It is also very easy to go ranting about whatever problem a specific production may have without realizing that your comment is in fact the antithesis of what the trope is about. So in a trope about, say... Visual Effects of Awesome, there is no need to go about and list every Special Effects Failure in the movies listed as having generally great special effects. There is a reason there are multiple pages on the subject; list where it is appropriate.

  • Examples Are Not Arguable: Do not coat examples in words like "arguably" or "to some". A trope is either used or not used. If you can't make a case beyond there being a work "debatably" using a certain trope, don't list it. Even on YMMV pages there is no need to do this because everything is already subjective anyway, making the inclusion of words like "arguably" redundant. Don't write "arguable examples".

  • Avoid Irrelevant Potholing and References: We know Jewel Staite was in Firefly, so why does nearly every Stargate Atlantis example featuring her character have a Pot Hole to an unrelated show? A pothole can be very much like its real world version, an annoying bump in the road. It should be used to help the flow of the information without flooding the reader with wiki injokes and terminology (like so). Around here, we have come to refer to the "bad" sort as Sinkholes.

  • Keep It An Example: Making a blanket statement on the behavior of '70s Live-Action TV may be interesting information, but it technically doesn't add anything new as an example. If you feel the information is important, then add it to the description (or the Analysis subpage) instead of the examples. Examples are about specific works and instances in them; the description is the general behavior of the trope. See Needs a Better Description.

  • Keep it Brief: Brevity Is Wit. No one wants to read Walls of Text. Over-long examples can encourage other tropers to carry on too long and can quickly turn a trope from a fun read to a long slog. Examples should have enough substance so that readers can get a relatively clear picture of how a given work used the trope in question, and no more. Don't bog the example down with unnecessary detail or canned analysis. Sometimes saying It Makes Sense in Context is enough information. As a general rule, if you ever find yourself feeling the need to indent and start a new paragraph, chances are you've gone on too long. A quick way to shorten your example is to scan it and excise any Word Cruft.

  • ...But Not Too Brief: Remember, examples sections are more than just long lists of shows or tropes — they are here to serve as examples. If you don't explain how a show used a given trope, what have you really said? Remember, nothing is Self Explanatory unless it is Exactly What It Says on the Tin (even then, err on the side of readers are morons and explain it anyway). Unless it provides context, an example is just a series name floating in space, probably not worth much to anyone who doesn't already remember it (and what's the point of telling people something they already know?). Oh, and most of us are pretty sick of Two Words: Obvious Trope, so please don't do that either. It's easy to assume that everyone else is familiar with the same things you're familiar with, but this is usually not the case, so think before you break out the internal jargon and Fan Nicknames without explanation. There are still some people who don't know It Was His Sled.

  • Avoid Spoilers: Remember our Spoiler Policy. It is always better to have a somewhat vague example that anyone can read than a precise and specific example covered in spoiler text. An entry with Spoiler Text like this one can confuse and annoy even fans of the work in question, not to mention anyone else. Always try to write your examples in such a way as to avoid plot-sensitive information like someone dying or switching sides, if you can help it. And for the love of God, don't add in spoileriffic content unless it's relevant to the topic at hand. If you don't need to talk about sensitive information to make your point, then don't. Again, don't assume everyone else knows about everything you know. If an example needs to be entirely spoiler-tagged to avoid spoiling the work, reconsider adding it; it won't do any good as an example for anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled for that work.

  • Simplify For Non Fans: Instead of saying "Alice kills Bob," for instance, try to instead identify them by character archetype, as in "Femme Fatale Alice kills Bob, The Fool." If stating this explicitly in the sentence would be too clunky, use potholes: "Alice kills Bob." This approach has the added bonus of telling the uninitiated who the characters are. If the information is spoiler sensitive, then shift it up a little. "Femme Fatale Alice kills The Fool of the work."

  • Stay on Topic: Don't be a Left Fielder who inserts completely irrelevant topics into an existing subject. If you're talking about a TV show, don't switch in midstream to another one. A new work always deserves its own bullet point, at the very least.

  • Don't Project Yourself Into the Entry: It's not about you, it's about the trope. There's no need to mention yourself. Try to refrain from inserting examples that boil down to "something that happened to me/my mom/a friend of a friend of a friend" or "something that I/my mom/a friend of a friend of a friend thought/did/said." Avoid making personal comments if at all possible, such as "This troper is shocked that we haven't yet mentioned..." or "What are you talking about? There was no X." This might all seem very compelling to you, but most people don't care to read it. Most of all, the wiki isn't a place for you to soapbox about things that annoy you — again, we have the forums for that. It's about the trope. Stay focused on the trope. That's why we're all here.

  • Don't Write Reviews: Outside of the Reviews Section, that is. Explaining why your favorite show is the best thing ever is fine; Fan Myopia thrives off of this. But a trope is just a trope. Using one trope will not improve or destroy the quality of your favorite show. Reviewing the episode where a trope was used is usually off topic and unnecessary to give the example. Sometimes these reviews come across as "this trope was used here, but they made it awesome." with no description of how it was used. As well, that's why we have the Review feature now.

  • Don't Rock the Boat: Remember the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement. Edit Wars are no fun for anyone (except Wiki Vandals, obviously), so keep that rant about geopolitics to yourself, or Take It to the Forums. Putting it where it doesn't belong accomplishes nothing besides raising tempers. If you decide to delete something that somebody else wrote, politely drop it into the discussion page with a justification — nothing but the most blatant vandalism deserves a Drive By edit.

  • Make A Point, Don't Complain: Complaining About Shows You Don't Like is one of the most often used tropes thrown around on this wiki. A Take That remark in fiction often comes across as petty, but even more so when it is Pot Holed into a comment by a random person on the internet. As an inversion, try to avoid gushing too.

  • Write From A Generic Time Frame: Don't be surprised that an example has not been listed — just list it yourself. Saying "This Troper is surprised that (show/movie/anime/webcomic) has not been listed yet..." then going on to talk about it is nonsensical because, hey, now we have. Your "Surprised it is not listed yet" example may become closer to the top of the page instead of the bottom within a few weeks time.

  • Write in Present Tense: Descriptions of events in an example should usually be written in present tense. Only use past or future tense when referring to things that happened in the past or will happen in the future with respect to the events you're describing.
    • Right: In episode 24, Alice slaps Bob for something he did in episode 22.
    • Wrong: In episode 24, Alice slapped Bob for something he did in episode 22.

  • Don't Use the Word "Recent": TV episodes and comic book issues (and some movies) come out on different dates in different parts of the world, so what is to you the most recent episode might be old hat to someone in America or Japan, or it might be several months away from being seen in the UK or Australia. Besides, its status as 'recent' is going to be outdated fairly soon. Instead, refer to the episode or issue by name ("Joey Uses A Trope"), number (X-Men #8), or (rough) date ("during the second season", "an arc in late 1997", "during the continuity reboot") if you feel that information is important.

  • Remember That This Is A Wiki: Therefore, you cannot rely on certain elements remaining on the page. Page quotes and images may be swapped out as tastes change and new works come out, so don't have an example specifically refer to information therein. Also, be very careful about starting an example with "Similarly," or "Like in the Care Bears example above," if it isn't part of the same group. That example may get deleted, even if it seems like it wouldn't. This goes double on pages that aren't categorized by media yet; if the trope grows popular enough, media categories will be added, and suddenly the "above" example you were comparing it to is now three-quarters of the way down the page. Along a similar line, don't be surprised if someone slices and dices your example because half of it was Natter.

  • Don't Use Internet Acronyms: AFAIK, IIRC, BTW, and the like have no place in an example. In fact, if you remove one of these while leaving the rest of the example intact, not only does the example lose no information at all, it actually becomes more comprehensible because people who aren't familiar with Net slang don't have to go look up the acronym. And since these acronyms are meant to make texting and forum posting quicker, when you see it here it makes the page seem like you didn't put a lot of effort into it. Despite the relaxed attitude, we are still trying to be well written.

  • This is not a Wiki of Memes: We know Bonecrusher hates everything, Chuck Norris is a god in mortal form, and Tony Stark built a suit of armor in a cave with a box of yadda yadda, but these cute gags rarely stay popular longer than 6 months. Unless you are listing an example of a Memetic Mutation from a work, there is no real reason to list it among tropes that have nothing to do with the meme in the first place.

  • Don't Use Acronyms For Show Titles: It's generally a bad idea, since an acronym of a title won't be readily recognized by non-fans (and might even be used in multiple fandoms), nor will it be automatically linked to the show's media page. Mixed-case initialisms (e.g. WoW for World of Warcraft) are particularly bad, since they will create red links unless the proper escapes are used. The only exception is if a media page describes the common acronym, and you are editing that page. In the general wiki use the full name.

  • Don't Use Word Cruft: Phrases like "Possibly subverted in..." or "<Show X> might qualify" make the example look wishy-washy and add no informational content. If you want to add an example and you're not 100% sure about the details, then either:
    1. Don't add it, but instead put a note in the discussion page saying "I think there might be an example along these lines;" or
    2. Pretend you're certain, and rely on Wiki Magic to fix it if you're wrong.

  • Don't Use Weasel Tropes: Part of this is just being accurate to the trope, as Fridge Logic is specifically "You didn't notice it until long afterwards" but many people tend to use it as "This thing annoys me." Attaching a trope to it does not excuse anyone of the Complaining rule. The same goes for any other number of tropes that have loosely defined parameters.

  • Being an example of a trope is neither a badge of honor nor a mark of shame: Tropes Are Not Bad, and Tropes Are Not Good. If your favorite show has a perfectly fitting example in a trope you think is bad, it isn't going to magically make the show worse. Conversely, don't rush to try to include examples of your favorite in tropes you think are good, especially if, as previously noted, they don't really fit. In fact, if you recognize a "bad" trope being used by a work you love, be the one to list it first. That way you have the chance to explain it properly instead of letting someone else use it to rant. It's not going to make the show better if it's part of all the good tropes. A show is good or bad on its own terms.

  • Don't rely on YouTube or other URL links: Don't put in an example that consists of "watch this YouTube video/read this strip of the comic/look at this other site to understand what the heck I'm talking about!" The entire example will become worthless if (and in many cases, when) the offsite link changes or is deleted. Videos in particular are often taken down for copyright reasons or just aren't available worldwide. Webcomics and Web Originals change hosting sites or strip/episode numbering formats. Also, try not to link to videos/forums/etc. that can only be viewed by members or subsets thereof.

    URL link pages should make things absolutely clear what information you are searching for. A 10 page review of an episode is not helpful for a single trope. If you can't link more precisely than the whole review, add more information about where the relevant part is; something like "about halfway down page three" will do.

  • Don't Speculate, Don't Prognosticate: You may have a good reason for assuming the trope will be used in a show eventually, but if you haven't seen the trope in the work, you haven't seen the trope used in the work, whether it's because the creators haven't put it in yet, because they're not going to put it in, or because you haven't actually seen the work in question. If and when you actually see the trope used add it — but not before. By the same token, don't say "used in pretty much every [genre] work," particularly if you haven't seen literally all of them and can confirm that it's in them.

  • Don't Use Bad Markup: In particular, never, ever put [[redirect:]] markup within an example, as it will obliterate the trope entry. With practice, the markup language will become familiar. Check your entry after you edited it to make sure it worked out properly. You might be going for BOLD and Italics and end up just getting 'Italics''. Double check trope links to make sure it isn't Red Linked. Try to avoid spending three editing sessions fixing your mistakes; use the Preview function to double-check your work before committing it.

  • Don't Overuse Emphasis Markup: Boldface, italics, and ALLCAPS for emphasis are best used sparingly when writing examples. Put too much of an example in emphasis markup, and nothing stands out. If you do emphasise something, just use one form of markup; combining two or more results in the text equivalent of SHOUTING FULL VOLUME. Save that for quotes where the speaker actually is shouting full volume. The names of tropes on work pages and their subpages never go in emphasis markup for any reason; if you want to emphasise how powerfully a work uses a trope, write a compelling description for it.

  • Have Fun!: Seriously, don't stress the rules and relax. We're mostly pretty chill here. As long as you don't go trashing entries or peeing on other tropers' lawns, we'll forgive just about anything. Seriously. Even the administrators are the type of people who'd give their shoes to a man on the street if he asked nicely enough.

TV Tropes GlossaryFAQ    
5PAdministriviaText Formatting Rules

alternative title(s): How To Write An Example; Good Style; Examples Are Not General
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
43261
43