User:Rasarr/Length Test

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(current: History sections guidelines?)

History section of articles can be tricky, especially for characters. This page contains some tips and guidelines on how to make it work.

Don't go into too much detail[edit]

When writing a character history, it can be easy to go into excessive detail about what's happening; sometimes, there's an urge to type out a play-by-play of the entire scene, fight or conversation. However, this way lies madness. You do not have to summarize every sentence said, or report on every blow of the battle. Most of the time, "they fight for a while" or "after a short conversation" will suffice.

So, when should you include the detail? Mostly, in scenes that could be considered crucial to the plot. Marsh tearing an earring out of Vin's ear? Crucial. A Stormlight Archive character swearing the Immortal Words? Extremely important. Characters arguing about how wise their plan is? You could summarize that. Mentioning every gesture the character makes in a conversation? Definitely avoid it.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that same events may hold different weight for different characters. For one, meeting someone could be the most notable thing in their life, in which case you should go into more detail; for the other, that same meeting could be regular Tuesday, in which case you don't need to spend the same amount of time and effort.

How to avoid too much detail, then? After writing the whole history, re-read it; see what you can aggregate, what can be summarized further, what detail you've added has proven unnecessary to the overall narrative. Cut those bits out, then rinse and repeat, until you feel satisfied with the state of the text.

Don't go into too little detail, either[edit]

While writing a blow-by-blow of every scene is decidedly excessive, you shouldn't skip over too many events, either. Remember, if someone's reading a history section, it's probably to catch themselves up to speed on the character. As such, include enough detail that the reader doesn't ask "but why were they here?" or "but how did they do that?" For example, if a character was present at some battle, say what they were doing there instead of simply "they were present at the battle"; if a character journeyed to multiple places, say where they've been, and everything interesting that's happened, rather than "for the next few years, they travelled a lot" (unless you don't know what happened, in which case, feel free to summarize it in a sentence).

Don't skip over a large chunk of character's on-page time. If something's happening, make note of it. If a character or object appears, but doesn't become important until later, do mention them, so that the reader isn't confused when they show up again. Also note when a character is present as part of a group, regardless of how much they do in any given scene. For example, if you're writing about a member of a DDF flight and know what the flight's been doing, it's worth saying that on the character's history page. Don't be afraid to make assumptions, either -- if a character is still alive and a member of the group when it's doing something, you can assume that they're with the group even if they're not explicitely named or don't say anything in the scene.

Place events in their correct places[edit]

Histories should be chronological. If a scene has a character talking about their youth, write what they reveal in its proper place, timeline-wise, and mention "X tells Y about her childhood" in the place where that scene happens. Likewise, if some information about a character's history can only be found in the Arcanum or other behind-the-scenes material, don't put it in the Trivia section, but add it to the History.

Conversely, try to keep the article as in-universe as you can. Don't add meta information - like where Brandon came up with the idea, or what the character looked like in an earlier version of the story. This should go into Trivia. If you feel like there are enough trivia about how a character came to be to form a cohesive narrative, make a Development section near the bottom of the page.

Similarly, don't use the names of the books or book parts in the summary - again, keep it in-universe.

Don't sweat it[edit]

Your History section doesn't have to be the world's most informative, most detailed or most elegant. A cursory history is better than no history. Don't worry about your grammar, or style, either. Again - a bad history beats no history. And if something doesn't feel right to you and you can't put a finger on it, leave it be for a while. This is a wiki; if someone has an issue with what you wrote, they can fix it themselves, and perhaps a fresh pair of eyes could figure out the problem you can't track down.

If you feel like you're not quite sure what a good history should look like, check out some of those pages:

Minor style guide[edit]

Yes, your writing style isn't super important; nonetheless, there are a few things worth keeping in mind.

  • Use past tense. We're trying to make this the standard for all histories, so we'd appreciate it.
  • If the section gets long, try to divide it into subsections. If you're not sure how, check other Histories to get some ideas.
  • If you're completing an already-started history, you don't have to match the level of detail of the already-done parts. Yes, it will look a little odd, but odds are, if the characters have more books to go, we might trim those over-detailed segments anyway. So, don't let articles like Adolin scare you.
  • While you don't have to do this, it's nice to add some images every once in a while, especially if there's something fitting already on the Coppermind. No need to hunt down some artwork across the Internet if there's nothing you could put, though.
  • If you want to add quotes, put them at the start of a subsection, or in a sidequote, not in the middle of the text. The sole exception to that are Knight Radiant Oaths; we generally quote them from the Second onwards at whatever point of the summary they happen.

Citations and you[edit]

Whenever you write something, cite it. The citation you'll need the most is {{book ref|title|chapter number}}; when using it, replace title with the appropriate shorthand from this page. For prologues, use {{book ref|title|prologue}}; for interludes, use {{book ref|title|i|interlude number}}. For something more unusual (like the prelude in The Way of Kings, or the Ars Arcana), use part=whatever instead of the chapter number ("whatever" being, for example, prelude for the Stormlight Archive prelude, or ars for the Ars Arcana of all stripes).

Should you need to include some information from Brandon himself, what you want is {{wob ref|number}}. You can find any given WoB's number by clicking on its header in the Arcanum and checking the tail end of the URL address; copy the number without the "e" in front of it.

Where should you cite? As a rule of thumb, always put a citation at the end of a section where all information comes from the same source(s); you don't have to place it at the end of every single sentence if, say, you're writing three of them about the same chapter. However, should you decide to split information from one source into several paragraphs, always put a reference at the end of each paragraph -- though if you're citing several chapters in one paragraph, put them after the appropriate sentences, rather than clumping them all at the very end. Remember also to place citations after punctuation, and don't put any spaces between the punctuation mark and the reference.