- Writing an SCP
- Developing Thoughts
- Writing Style
So You Want To Write an SCP
You're reading How to Write an SCP 2.0. If you're reading this, you're probably a member of the SCP Foundation and want to try your hand at an article. This page is to help point you in the right direction when getting started.
Before You Start: Some Things to Consider
In general, successful SCP articles have most or all of the following components:
- An interesting idea.
- Reasonable containment procedures.
- A clear description.
These are necessary for a good SCP. An SCP should immediately draw the reader in; they can't be muddled under a lot of exposition. Try to get a clear idea of what your SCP does before starting.
Many first SCP articles fail miserably for one reason or another, primarily due to the writer's lack of experience. This is not an excuse. This is a challenge. SCP writing is not for everybody, and there are site members who have never written a successful article. It is a very specific style that we're looking for; if you can't really manage to turn your idea into an SCP article, try to write it into a standalone Tale.
As a sidenote: please remember when writing your first SCP, that when we say 'Many first SCPs fail' there is not a curse on them. Some first SCPs do wonderfully! Some do not. Always ask for feedback. Let the ruder feedback wash upon you as water on sand. It's fun to leave blunt feedback, but it is usually not meant hurtfully. Learn from your first SCP, see if the idea is salvageable. Sometimes your skill as a writer isn't up to the level of your idea, and keeping track of your old ones for re-writing is a good tactic.
Also please note: Uploading a crappy SCP to 'get the bad luck out' does nothing except clutter the site up with crap. When writing your first SCP, put your best foot forward, because it is part of the standard by which your future works will be judged. Make jokes in chat. Put actual work up on the site. It'll make people think better of you, it helps improve the site, and it sets an example for the other newbies.
Really, the best possible piece of advice that any of us can give is to be patient. Sit back and lurk; we've got all kinds of articles. Spend some time to get an idea of how the site works. Make a sandbox (click the link, or go here: http://scpsandbox2.wikidot.com) and show other people your drafts. See what's good and what's bad, what's highest rated and what's downvoted. Learn what kinds of things people look for in an article; you'll be better equipped to succeed in your writing.
What Do You Do Next?
To see what you should do next to write your own SCP, return to the top of this document and choose another tab.
The idea is the soul of your story, whether as a Tale or as an SCP. A good idea will carry you far and help you succeed. Here are a few tips to help you conjure a good idea for your article:
- First things first; think of what scares you. The site has its roots in Internet horror, and we try to keep with that tradition. The stranger the fear the better; a lot of the common terrors and phobias have been covered, and we love creativity.
- If you cannot pull off horror (and not everybody can), try for something weird. The stranger and more original your article is, the better it'll stand out from the crowd.
- Try to find an interesting photo. The Internet is a strange, strange place, and there are thousands of strange or creepy photos you can use as a seed for an idea. Something unusual, to grab the reader's attention that inspires your imagination. Just make sure your image follows the site Image Use Policy.
- Take a look at our SCP fuel pages. You can find these by checking the Visual Records Wiki, run by Roget. We've got a whole lot of material there. If you want to join up, PM him for the password.
- When you DO come up with an interesting idea, look through the list for similar SCPs. We have over 1000 SCPs; there's a fairly good chance that there's an article similar to your idea floating around somewhere. If you do find an existing article with a similar idea to yours, see if you can put a spin on your article to set it apart.
- Show it to other people: Often times, you might come up with something you think is a really cool idea, and want to write it up as soon as you can. Before you post it, you should always make a sandbox page and show the draft in the forums or in chat
Don't force an idea. Going and trying to force an idea that feels incomplete will usually end up with an underwhelming article or story. If you're having trouble with a piece, try to bounce it off other members in the chat, or make a thread on the forums.
Here are some general tips to help guide you in writing your SCPs.
- Act as if every SCP will be the first that someone will read. That means do not put too much in there that requires knowledge of anything else on the site. While many people enjoy linking things together into a larger story, it really improves the quality of the work when each SCP can be enjoyed in full as a stand-alone work.
- Less is more. While some articles successfully pull off multi-page exploration logs, recovery logs, and experiment logs, a majority of SCPs are best left as brief, easily-digested pieces of fiction. Don't begin writing with the assumption that your SCP needs a huge amount of explanation, logs, and addenda; you're free to include them if they improve the article, but they are not required if they don't add anything.
- Get a clear idea of what your thing will do, before you start writing. This will help you narrow down what details you include, and which you leave out. Leaving out the right details can add mystery to an article, and keep the reader thinking about why, or how, the object works.
- Dangerous does not always equal interesting. An item that has the ability to instantly liquefy bone in a 100 mile radius is dangerous, yes, but unless you can write it in an interesting way people won't like it.
- Find a hook of some sort. SCPs that are merely anomalous rarely are successful; there needs to be something more to draw the reader in. What that something is depends largely on you.
- Accept what critique you get. Nobody is obligated to be gentle with you once you've posted on the main wiki. If you sincerely think you are being treated unfairly, contact a mod or admin. Do NOT engage in a running shouting match with someone you think is being mean or cruel. Take their advice into consideration, even if it's terse or harsh.
- Gore for the sake of gore is stupid. Dropping a blatantly gory or shocking image at the top of an article gives off a bad first impression and usually acts as a downvote magnet. Some articles do use fairly disturbing imagery, but they do so with context. If you do use a disturbing image, give context for the photos before showing them to the reader.
- Don't be stubborn, and don't be afraid to ask for help. There's almost always a bunch of us in the chat room and on the forums who are more than happy to give a hand or a read-through.
- There are no happy endings. At best, bittersweet. The Foundation universe isn't ultra super grimdark all the time, but happy stories should come as a breath of fresh air. If there are multiple outcomes that your SCP can have, the scariest or most bittersweet should be the one you choose.
- There is no such thing as a bad idea. Only poor execution. If someone tells you your idea sucks, that's their opinion. It means your execution wasn't good enough to convince them that your idea had merit. Try again.
The very first thing you need to know when writing your article is that the motto of the SCP Foundation is Secure, Contain, and Protect. Not for Destroy, Destroy, Destroy. Very few SCP articles can get away with intentionally calling for the destruction of an object.
Containment of an object should be clear and logical. No flourish, no extraneous resources; every SCP should be provided with what it needs. No more, no less.
Some SCP objects can get away with fairly lax containment procedures because they're easily contained or controlled, while others need strict and sophisticated containment systems to keep them contained safely. It's very hard to generalize while talking about Containment Procedures, because they need to be tailored to the specific objects.
One thing to consider while writing your containment is what the SCP might need. Some Containment Procedures may include such things as television or books for an intelligent SCP, for example. This is fine to do, within limits. As a rule of thumb, remember: The Foundation is cold, not cruel.
Overall, containment must strike a balance between logically and successfully containing an object as well as current technology is capable of, and being reasonable in its demands for resources.
Each SCP must be assigned an Object Class based on their overall containment difficulty. Essentially, the three main object classes follow these guidelines:
- Safe Class objects are easily contained, and/or pose little to no threat to human life. Safe class does not automatically mean harmless; instead, it means that we can lock them up and not have to worry about them. Safe Class objects come in all shapes, and include The Skin Wyrm, the Endless Garage, the Brahmastra.
- Euclid Class is best understood as the 'baseline' Object Class. They require fairly specific containment procedures, but if they're followed, the object's easily contained. Assume your SCP is going to be Euclid from the start. Euclid Class SCPs are some of the most varied SCPs on the entire site; the class includes the first SCP, SCP-173, the Nexus of Abandoned Places, and Demisers.
- Keter Class SCP objects are objects that require extremely specific Containment Procedures, and are so inhumanly dangerous that they must be contained at all costs. Alternatively, Keter Class objects are simply so difficult to contain effectively that they need higher levels of care and resources to suppress. A Keter Class needs to stand out from other SCPs, and be a unique threat all its own. The Keter Class includes the Shadow Person, the Incomplete Chronicle, and the Maybe There Monsters.
- Neutralized SCPs are items which have been… well, neutralized. They are no longer anomalous, either through their death, destruction, absence, or cessation of activity. Generally, this is a case-by-case, situational classification.
Certain SCPs do use other Object Classes; indeed, there's no rule saying you can't use a different object class. However, using a unique object class isn't recommended; Safe, Euclid, and Keter are usually sufficient.
A lot of people misunderstood clinical tone. They think it means using big words, or trying to sound smart. Or they think it means a focus on "grimdark." This is not correct.
Be Precise And Concise.
Be precise: Avoid ambiguous wording. Be concise: Don't use too many words. Don't use longer words just because they "sound smarter" (unless they actually are more appropriate). Avoid ambiguous or flowery wording. Don't use more adjectives than are necessary. You're writing a technical paper — write plainly.
You're writing from the perspective of an SCP researcher. Most professionals wouldn't send their boss a report with a fart joke in it. You also probably wouldn't use slang in a research paper for school.
As well, researchers should try to be detached and unemotional in their writing. Not because they don't have emotions, but because letting that slip into their writing makes them seem less objective and makes the writing more emotionally charged.
Example: If describing a werewolf, you should not write "The entity is a ten foot tall wolfman with glowing crimson eyes and teeth like daggers. Its howl sends shivers down your spine, as if you instinctively know that we are its prey." Instead, write something like "The entity is a canid biped, standing 3 meters tall with luminescent red eyes and prominent teeth. Its vocalizations universally trigger a fear reflex in human subjects."
Redactions, [DATA EXPUNGED], and similar censorship can be used to add mystery or remove extraneous data. You should know what information you are expunging. Don't expunge something so you don't need to write it; hide key information to draw the reader in deeper. Make them wonder what's behind the hidden information.
Also: don't redact anything in containment procedures. If the procedures are redacted, how can personnel know how to contain the item?
- Don't refer to the subject of your article as "the SCP"; SCP in-article stands for Special Containment Procedures. Use SCP-XXXX when drafting and make sure to replace the XXXX with the number of your article when posting. If you wish to avoid repetition (which is not mandatory), you can instead use terms such as "the organism", "the specimen", "the object", "the artifact", "the entity", and so forth, or just restructure your sentences.
- If you use "subject", make sure you don't confuse the reader, because "subject" usually refers to experiment subjects like D-Class personnel or people involuntarily exposed to SCPs.
- In interview logs, try to write what would sound most natural when spoken by an actual person — here, terms like "skip" are fine.
- Avoid giant blocks of text. They're visually unappealing and unstimulating. Break up walls of text with paragraph breaks, sub-headings, or bulleted lists.
- Use metric. Try to round to two decimal places, max. It looks cleaner.
- Proofread. Do this to avoid plot holes, check spelling, and remove redundant phrases and words.
Writing a Humanoid SCP
Humanoid SCP objects can be some of the most difficult objects to write. Why, you ask?
For many reasons. The most common reason is something we've termed the "X-Man Syndrome". That is, making a humanoid with "powers", instead of "an anomaly". However, there's no real set way to tell if a humanoid SCP will be an X-Man, or if they will fit in with the site; as stated before, there's no such thing as a bad idea, only bad execution.
Here's a brief list of things to remember when writing your humanoid article:
- Don't write its containment procedures to essentially be "Give it What it Wants". The Foundation is not a hotel, it is a prison.
- Don't go into an inordinate amount of detail regarding the humanoid's personal tastes. This is a very easy way to make them look like more of a character, and less of an SCP.
- Try to avoid using personal pronouns; try to refer to the object as 'it'. While some humanoids are referred once or twice as male or female in their articles, there is usually a reason for this.
- Don't make it so that everyone automatically loves your SCP object in-universe. Unless it's a byproduct of an effect, there's usually no real reason for personnel to voice positive feelings towards an object.
- That being said, don't make the Foundation be needlessly evil. As said before, the Foundation is cold, not cruel.
- Try to avoid reality-benders, magic users, or overtly superpowered people. While some have been successfully pulled off, it usually takes a seasoned, experienced writer to do them well enough to not divebomb into a negative rating. Examples of well-received reality benders/magical people/superpowered people are the Abandoned Project, Totenkinder, and the Rocket Surgeon, respectively.
- If your humanoid has more than one anomaly, make sure that they make sense and go together.
Remember, even though they are humanoid, they're still SCP objects in the Foundation's eyes.
Crosslinks are at the heart and soul of our site, and it's how many people begin exploring the Foundation's universe. But while many old SCP articles crosslink to other articles on the site, most recent articles do not. Honestly, we think this is a huge shame.
A few years ago, we dealt with so much bad crosslinking that many staff and veteran authors backlashed against the whole concept, and it became forbidden for some time, and discouraged after that. And… we still don't like bad crosslinking.
How To Crosslink Right:
- Make sure your article is interesting all by itself. Your article doesn't need to be a stand-alone, but it needs to be interesting even if the original article disappeared.
- Make sure your crosslink is interesting all by itself. Same deal. Don't just say "Might be connected to X popular SCP"; give us more material!
- Consider linking to less over-exposed SCPs. Linking to a popular SCP? Why not consider linking to a less obvious SCP? Or… why not both a popular and less-popular SCP?
- Avoid Crosslink Cliches! Some examples:
- "My SCP is better/stronger than this old SCP!" We will hate you.
- "My SCP should NEVER come into contact with this old SCP." This makes us roll our eyes. Give us an actual reason — for example, if they did come into contact, and (interesting) bad things happened. Note: Don't try to use this to make your SCP seem more dangerous. It will not work. If your SCP is more dangerous, that's okay, but assume that no one should care.
- "Let's test this on 682!" Everyone's sick of that. If you really want to do this, try adding it to the 682 Termination Log first, see if people like it, and then make that crosslink.
- Ask permission before adding crosslinks to others' articles. (You don't need to ask permission to add crosslinks to yours.)
- Cross-tests need special considerations. See next section on Cross-Testing.
- Only veteran authors can crosslink. (Not true. You just need to do it right.)
- You can't crosslink to a Tale. (Not true. Just needs to work with the SCP article.)
- No one likes crosslinks — you'll get downvoted! (Not true. A few people will downvote because they dislike all crosslinks, but only a few.)
- We Just Don't Do That Anymore. (Not true. That's a holdover from times now passed by.)
One major view of the Foundation holds that we do not cross-test SCPs. Ever. These are dangerous items we're working with. Most of them act bizarrely enough on their own, and now you want to combine them to see what happens? This ranges from "bad idea" to "extremely dangerous". You could literally end the damn world.
Another major view of the Foundation holds that we do, in fact, cross-test SCPs. Yes, it's dangerous, but knowing more about an SCP can be very helpful for effective containment, and cross-testing can be an effective way to get that knowledge. We have limits — we're not the Chaos Insurgency — but scientific research is more important than excessive caution. After all, the more you know, the less caution you really need, right?
A third major view of the Foundation takes a middle road. Maybe some Sites cross-test SCPs, and others forbid all cross-testing. Perhaps researchers may only cross-test above a certain rank or clearance level. Perhaps there's controversy about it. Perhaps horrible things have occurred, but great discoveries made too.
Which view is correct? Well, that depends on you, and your story. Choose with care.
- Whichever view you pick, make sure the Foundation don't accidentally look like idiots. If horrible things are happening because of the cross-tests, the Foundation isn't just gonna keep going. If, in your view of the Foundation, this is common, then cross-testing should be restricted or forbidden.
- Assume researchers have permission to cross-test, if they do cross-test at all. This means: Don't specifically forbid cross-testing in containment procedures, at least not without special reason. Implying that people can otherwise randomly cross-test with no oversight makes the Foundation seem like idiots.
These are some of the most common formatting styles used:
**bold** -> bold
//italics// -> italics
__underscore__ -> underscore
--strikethrough-- -> strikethrough
[[[SCP-173|On-site links]]] -> On-site links
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page External links] -> External links
██████ also known as U+2588 or FULL BLOCK -> Black boxes for hiding blanking information (copy and paste); alternatively, use [ALT]+219 to get the same character.
A complete list of supported formats and how to get them to show up can be found on the Wiki Syntax page. You can also find many commands available in buttons above the editting module.
Place a rating module on every page you create. The individual code for one is shown here:
[[>]] [[module Rate]] [[/>]]
Placing an Image
Pictures are optional but generally improve an article, so long as they are appropriate for the subject, don't break realism, and follow all of the site rules.
Do not use a picture if:
- It is an illustration and realistically a photograph would be used instead
- It has visible watermarks or copyright notices (Removing the copyright is not acceptable, either, that's illegal.)
- It contains illegal or pornographic material (This is cause for removal of the image.)
To place an image on your article, you must upload your image onto the page. Please do not hot-link directly to an image hosted on another website. To do this, first be sure that any images uploaded are in the proper format (.jpg, .jpeg, or .png) and are downscaled to the proper size (please don't upload multiple-megabyte images), then follow these instructions:
- Go to the page you want to add an image to.
- Scroll to the bottom, then click "Files" from the page tools section.
- From there, click "Upload a File from Your Computer".
- Locate and select the image you wish to use, and click "Open".
- Finally, click "Upload."
At this point, the image is now uploaded and attached to the page. To insert the image into the article with the proper styling, all you have to do is insert the following snippet of code into the appropriate place:
[[include component:image-block name=ImageName.jpg|caption=This text appears under the image.]]
Be sure to replace "ImageName.jpg" with the image's actual name, and replace "This text appears under the image." with the appropriate caption.
Note that by default, the standard image block is set to 300px width. If you need it to be a different size (such as if the native size of the image is less than 300px), then you can optionally add a width attribute to the image block as shown here:
[[include component:image-block name=ImageName.jpg|caption=This text appears under the image.|width=300px]]
The height of the image will automatically adjust to the width. Please do not exceed 300px, as blocks larger than that disrupt the normal flow of the document. If you have any problems or questions about using images on articles, please contact a member of the Image or Technical Staff Teams.
Test Logs and Records
Test logs are also optional, but can make or break an article. They come in a variety of formats, from the in-depth:
__**Test A - Date**__ > **Subject:** > **Procedure:** > **Results:** > **Analysis:**
To the casual:
Create a format appropriate for your article and use the same format for every entry in the log.
Collapsibles may be used to hide long logs or lists without taking up page space. To get an effect like this:
Use this code:
[[collapsible show="+ Title for showing text" hide="- Title for hiding text"]] [Your text] [[/collapsible]]
Footnotes can be used to put additional information into an article without breaking the flow of the text. To get an effect like this:
Use this code:
Basic Article Template
[[>]] [[module Rate]] [[/>]] **Item #:** SCP-XXXX **Object Class:** Safe/Euclid/Keter (indicate which class) **Special Containment Procedures:** [Paragraphs explaining the procedures] **Description:** [Paragraphs explaining the description] **Addendum:** [Optional additional paragraphs]
> **Interviewed:** [The person, persons, or SCP being interviewed] > > **Interviewer:** [Interviewer, can be blocked out using █] > > **Foreword:** [Small passage describing the interview] > > **<Begin Log, [optional time info]>** > > **Interviewer:** [speech] > > **Person:** [speech] > > [Repeat as necessary] > > **<End Log, [optional time info]>** > > **Closing Statement:** [Small summary and passage on what transpired afterward]
Note: When inserting block quotes with the > symbol, make sure you add a space after each > you use— otherwise your text won't show up.
To post your SCP, follow these simple steps.
- Once you're finished your article, pick an open number from the main sequence. These will read "ACCESS DENIED".
- Click the number. You'll be brought to a page saying that this page does not exist; Click "Create Page".
- You should have written your article in a word processor program on your computer. First go through to make sure that all references to your SCP's number match that of the one you chose off the list. Then simply copy and paste the article into the text box.
- Fix the page title from "Scp ####" to "SCP-####", where #### is your list number.
- If you know how to tag properly, then you can go ahead and do so now.
- … but if you need this guide, you don't know how to tag properly. Let the technical team do it for you.
- Go to the SCP Series page that your article's listed on. Scroll all the way to the bottom; these pages are just really big wiki pages. Click "Edit" and find your SCP number; replace ACCESS DENIED with an appropriate name.
- Announce your SCP in the Announcements forum. Optionally, also announce your SCP in the chat.
- You're done!
Now to post a Tale, you have a slightly different process to get everything set up.
- Go to the "Contribute" link on the left hand side of the wiki. Type the Tale name into the appropriate slot and click "Create Tale".
- Copy and paste your Tale, in its entirety, into the text box.
- If you know how to tag properly, you would do so now…
- … but as has been said before, you don't know how to tag properly. Let the technical team do it for you.
- Go to the "Foundation Tales" page, found under the SCP Series tabs on the right hand side of the wiki. Click "Edit" at the bottom of the page, adding a link to your Tale. Do not edit other member's Tale links.
- Announce your Tale in the Announcements forum. Optionally, also announce your Tale in the chat.
- You're done!
A note on images.
We prefer if you upload images directly to the wiki. This is because offsite linking is rude, and devours bandwidth; a popular SCP can reach thousands of views a month. While not all SCPs will reach this high of a viewership, it's still poor etiquette to leech bandwidth from another site when it's easily avoidable. Please follow these steps to upload an image to the wiki.
- After creating and posting your article as detailed above, go to "Files" at the bottom of the page. It's between the "History" and "Print" tabs.
- "Upload a file from your computer"
- There will be a dropdown. "Select Files"
- Select and "Open" the image files you wish to upload. Make sure you know the image is compliant with our Image Use Policy.
- Refresh the file list, and open the image links. Right click, "Copy Image Location".
- Add to the article using Wikidot's image syntax/code. This can be found via the article template found elsewhere in this guide, for easy access. You may need several edits to get spacing correct so as to make your article look neat and tidy - please feel free to ask a more experienced user to do this for you, if you're not sure how to do it correctly.
- You're done!