Essay On Common Newbie Ideas + How To Better Ideate Your SCP
rating: +40+x

Over my years as a critter here on the good ol' SCP wiki, I have critiqued many ideas and drafts.

In this time, I have come to notice that there are several repeated ideas that pop up on the I&B forum, particularly originating from newbies excited to contribute. These ideas which are so often seen are outlined below.

  • Things that make more anomalous things
  • Things that do a thing
  • Guys who fight other SCPs/Guys who join Omega-7
  • Cross-test-a-palooza
  • A portal to another dimension
  • Thing that makes you crazy until it kills you
  • World War II anomalies

This is not an essay meant to dunk on these ideas, far from it. This is an essay musing on reasons why newbies choose these things as their first foray into SCP, and why they (typically) don't work, along with ideas to possibly help people trying to write one of these common ideas


Things that make more anomalous things


The Anomaly

This is one that I see come up rather often. The object is typically some form of object that makes other things, like a printing press or a factory line. Sometimes it's even a person. The main commonality these anomalies have is that no matter what they are, they create more anomalous objects, often with sub-designations of their own.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

Writing one interesting thing is hard. It's harder still to write several interesting things under one umbrella. Most of the ideas I see for this kind of concept has their thing making a wide variety of objects with multiple functions. This is often a bad thing. For those old enough to remember, it's why the original Little Mister article didn't work. It tried to do too much at once, which is a common pitfall faced when attempting to juggle multiple sub anomalies with the main one.

That isn't to say it's impossible to write an article about a thing that makes more anomalous things. After all, SCP-914 exists. But it's hard to beat the king, and 914 is very much the king of things that make more anomalous things. Perhaps its popularity is the reason there are so many people attempting to make more things that make more anomalous things.

What to do instead

If I were in charge of writing a thing that makes more anomalous things, I would pick one thing and focus on it instead of having it create a myriad of objects each with their own anomalous properties. I would explore the limits of what the objects it creates can do, or push it to its logical extreme. It's what I did with SCP-3803 and I'd like to think it turned out okay.

Things that do a thing


The Anomaly

This one is probably the most common one I see when browsing the I&B forum. It's a thing that does a thing, there isn't much to say about it beyond that. It's SCP at its simplest.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

Okay, this may be controversial, but I think things that do a thing are fine to have on the wiki. Sure, they may be a bit Series I, but that doesn't mean that all things that do a thing have been explored. But there is a caveat. Good things that do a thing typically tell a story or have some form of deeper meaning to them. Because at their core, that's what SCPs are. Stories disguised as clinical documentation.

The best things that do a thing subvert your expectations, much like SCP-4514 does. It's a knife that kills you. Nothing special about that, right? Well, you'd be wrong because it turns out that this SCP article takes place in the End of Death canon, where death is no longer a thing. Or take a look at SCP-3900, which is a wi-fi signal that summons wolves under the full moon. Wi-fi wolves. What happens when one of the wolves bites a human? You get a human that summons wi-fi wolves as if this were a lycanthropy curse. But what happens when the infected human bites a wolf? Why, you get routers, of course. Hilarious upscale in absurdity is what makes this article work.

What to do instead

I have already written an essay on this before, which says everything I could hope to say on the matter and then some. I recommend reading it, as it will be much more helpful than any brief section on this essay could be.

Guys who fight other SCPs/Guy who joins Omega-7


The anomaly

This one is very simple to explain. The core concept of the anomaly will typically be about a guy who fights very well and wants to or is enthusiastic about fighting other SCP objects, typically SCP-682 or SCP-076.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

There are quite a few reasons why this one doesn't work. Let's go over them.

For starters, SCP isn't VS Wiki. Though there are conversations of who would win between SCP-X and SCP-Y, those mostly stay on places outside the main wiki simply because an SCP made to trump another isn't interesting. It just exists to say 'I got one over you', which isn't fun for anyone and is just boring. Furthermore, having your SCP exist for the sole purpose of kicking another's ass does not make for good reading. Your article should be able to stand on its own. This isn't to say crosslinking is bad, but if the thesis of your article is "It exists to fight SCP-682", then odds are it's a bad idea.

As for joining Omega-7, that is an old relic of the wiki, one many consider to be an ugly thing. It's hard to avoid being called a Mary Sue when writing anomalies to specifically join Omega-7 because unfortunately, that's just the kind of anomaly that would join Omega-7.

What to do instead

To be honest, I haven't seen any of this style of idea work outside of Series I, maybe a few in Series II. It's difficult to write something meant for combat with other anomalies without having it look like you're coattail riding or writing a Mary Sue. For these reasons I generally advise against writing this kind of anomaly, but I'm going to make an honest effort to give advice on what to do here if you're hellbent on writing one of these.

My advice would be to take it to a tale. Tales are much more open for doing all sorts of stuff in, meaning you could write your totally cool action fight between your guy who fights other SCPs and SCP-682 or whoever it is you want them to fight or join Omega-7 in.

Cross-test-a-palooza


The Anomaly

This one is a varied one, mostly because almost anything could be used to crosstest with. Many are simple objects with various possible applications and uses to make it easier to crosstest with. The main throughline here is an anomaly that is used with others, most typically popular Series I anomalies such as SCP-049 or SCP-999.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

Crosstesting is a weird art. For the most part, people consider it another outdated practice of the wiki's early days. Common criticisms of crosstest-focused anomalies include accusations of coattail riding, lack of originality, and dependency. Though I mostly agree with these criticisms, I do think that a lack of originality is not a valid criticism, since it requires good imagination to try and think up of an interesting effect to happen when two anomalies clash. But as for coattail riding and dependency, I definitely do agree there. It can be seen as coattail riding to have your article crosslink to another, more popular one, and having your article depend on others is not a good idea. What if something happens to the original article or the reader hasn't read the original article?

This isn't to say that articles that heavily crosslink can't function. SCP-6666 does so just fine, but it takes time to ensure the reader knows what the article is crosslinking and the interviews give some form of insight or new look into what the article is crosslinking. But it is important to keep in mind there is a difference between crosslinking and crosstesting. One uses crosslinks to enhance its story while the other largely makes crosslinks the entire story.

What to do instead

This is a tough one. Articles that heavily crosstest are few and far between these days. The most recent one I could remember is SCP-5549, which takes care to brief the reader on what the anomalies being used are. I feel like this is an important piece of the puzzle here.

It should be noted, I have no experience in this, as I prefer to have my articles stand-alone without many crosslinks or crosstests. However, if I had to write an article that heavily featured crosstesting, I would make sure that the anomaly is able to stand on its own feet without heavily featuring other anomalies. That is to say, I would ensure that the Special Containment Procedures and Description all make it without mentioning another anomaly. The second thing I would implement would be care to make the core anomaly an interesting one that would naturally make people question what would happen if they crosstested it with another anomaly.

A portal to another dimension


The anomaly

Again, this one is a simple one. The anomalies that make up this kind of pitch are usually simple portals to another world. What kind of world it leads to is highly varied, but common ones include worlds where the Allies lost WWII (has a little bit of crossover with WWII anomalies but not often), a world where some sort of XK scenario has taken place, or sometimes something simple like hell or something like that.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

The big issue with portals to another dimension is that oftentimes, what's on the other side of the portal isn't very well thought out or nuanced. More often than not, new authors will also simply leave the portal and what awaits beyond it as just that. That is to say, they won't include some form of narrative, story, or nuance to it which leaves readers unsatisfied.

What to do instead

This one, fortunately, has a simple solution. Portals to another world can be exciting to read because they create a great opportunity for the author to go wild in creating a new world. This means a great opportunity for a lore dump, which many people love to read. Or if you don't want to create lore for your new world, you could just as easily have a fun time with an MTF or something exploring the world and dealing with whatever it is for them to deal with in there. Easy opportunity to create some monsters or what have you. I view this kind of anomaly as a great opportunity for authors to stretch their creative muscle, as you could easily fill a world with unique things to attract readers.

Thing that makes you crazy until it kills you


The anomaly

We've all seen it before. The anomaly is a cursed object that inflicts some sort of weird or uncanny behavior on its user until it kills them for some reason. The article is also typically very short and to the point about the anomaly and its deadliness.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

A thing that makes you crazy until it kills you is often associated with the olden days of the wiki, when SCP objects were typically simple dangerous objects that could kill you if mishandled. Today, the wiki has largely moved away from such simple things. Make no mistake, we still have things that kill you, its just that they're much more sophisticated now. Look no further than SCP-4514 (can you tell I like this article?), which is a knife that kills you. But the main issue here is that death is just so cliche, it very easily takes one out of the article and makes them say 'That's it?'

Of course, there are other contributing factors, but death has become so cliche to SCP authors that at this point it's more normal for most anomalies of this nature to curse the user with a fate worse than death, which is itself becoming a bit cliche! Overall, there's a lot of factors leading up to making this kind of anomaly a disappointing and boring one, most of which come from the sheer density of failed attempts seen on a weekly basis.

What to do instead

This particular brand of article is hard to make work, mostly because it is so violently cliche. Out of all the things on this list, I think this one is the only one I would recommend you avoid the most, due to the fact that this type of article almost never works anymore without massive subversion, and SCP-4514 already did this in the best way possible.

WWII anomalies

The anomaly

This one is much more varied in what it can be, but it typically is some sort of tank, gun, soldier, or piece of technology from WWII. Bonus points if it's a secret Nazi weapon.

Why it (mostly) doesn't work

Personally, I think it comes down to a lack of knowledge on the subject. Everyone has a surface-level knowledge of WWII, but very few people who try to write one of these actually know more than the average person. The main issue is that WWII is such a thoroughly lived-in scenario that has been explored countless times across various forms of media, so much so that doing a WWII story feels cliche. Especially if its about the Eastern front.

The biggest problem that comes from WWII anomalies is that they very often utilize the Stupid Jetpack Hitler trope or the Ghostapo trope, which just about everyone and their dog is tired of seeing by now. There are only so many times we can hear the same story without becoming bored.

What to do instead

If you absolutely must write about WWII, why not consider the Pacific or North African theaters? They're just as interesting and full of unexploited stories you could use for anomalies. WWII wasn't only fought in Europe, you know. Another big thing about writing WWII anomalies is doing proper research. Like it was said before, we all have basic knowledge of WWII but very few people writing SCPs about WWII know a lot about the minutia of the war.

I suppose the biggest takeaway from this should be to do your research on what you're writing about. It's easy to spot when someone hasn't done their research and you definitely don't want to be caught in that spot.

Alternatively…

If you keep finding yourself falling into ruts when ideating an anomaly to write about, there are other ways to approach the SCP writing process. For example, rather than starting from an anomaly, you can start thinking about characters you want to include in your piece, or interesting aspect of SCP lore you want to expand on. By starting from a different prompt than "write about an anomaly" you can ask yourself questions and flesh out an idea until you arrive at an anomaly that fits, rather than starting from an anomaly and writing from there.

Personally, I start my SCP writing process by coming up with certain themes I want to touch on or specific story beats I want to hit with my article. The anomalies themselves are almost always just a means to a narrative end. I find this approach the easiest for me to work with because it means I get to be as creative as I can be before finally binding myself to an anomaly to write about.

Even if this doesn't work for you, remember that SCP is just works of fiction and there's no correct way to go about ideating for it. These are just suggestions, suggestions which I hope can help you in your next writing attempt.

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