Making a Guide

Discussion in 'Guides' started by Marty, Dec 9, 2014.

  1. Marty
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    Hi there, I'm Marty. You want to make a guide for MapleRoyals? Great! This guide is here to help you out with this; my goal is to assist you in making your guide the best it can be. I've made several guides, including a couple of guides here on the MapleRoyals forum and therefore have a lot of experience in the field of writing guides. And now I'm here to share my experience and secrets with all of you, the community, and point out what I personally consider the characteristics of a fantastic guide. This is completely based on my own experience, and my sole purpose is to give all of you a nudge in the right direction so that you could make the next terrific guide here on the forum.

    To not only show what you should do as guide-writer, but also show what you should never do, I have re-written my own shadower guide as an example of what a truly terrible guide would look like. This is to make very clear what a bad guide would look like and what you should avoid under all circumstances!

    Without further ado, let's continue!

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    1. Things to Consider Before Making a Guide
    2. Essentials of Writing
    3. Requirements of an excellent guide
    4. What you shouldn't do
    5. Guide analysis - Marty's Terrible Shadower guide
    6. Structure
    7. Coding, design & more
    8. Tips, tricks & FAQ
    9. Conclusion & Special Thanks

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    Now, you really want to write a guide. Great decision, yes, but before you hurry off and start writing, you should think several things through. I'll show you a couple of things you should completely think through before even starting on your guide, and once you've collected your thoughts on each and every one of these points, you're 100% ready to start writing.

    • Content: This is obviously the most important thing you want to think about. What exactly do you even want to be talking about? What should your guide entail? What's the main message you want to bring across to the reader? These questions should be answered before you start, so you narrowed down exactly what you want your guide to be about.
    • Extensiveness: Even if you know what you want to make a guide about, there's still something you should think about. How long do you want your guide to be? There's a big difference between a 10,000-word guide and a 1,000-word guide. However, this in no way means that a good guide has to be a long one. Quality =/= Quantity! Remember that!
    • Dedication: Now think of yourself for a bit: Are you willing to put a lot of effort into writing your guide and dealing with everything that comes after it? Are you sure you're qualified and credible to write that guide? This is the last thing you will have to consider.
    So, after thinking about these points do you think you're ready? If so, then read on!


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    Some qualities are simply needed to write a decent guide. Without these qualities, maybe you shouldn't think of writing a full guide, but instead help someone else, a better writer, making one or make one together with him/her. These are just some options; but first, let's move on and see what's important as an author of a guide.

    • Effort: I don't know how much I have to stress this, and I will therefore say it again. You have to put in a lot of effort! Without your effort, you won't ever succeed in writing and maintaining a good guide. You have to care about what you're doing. According to Joan Tronto, the four elements of care are:
      • Attentiveness: You have to recognize and respect your reader's need to learn from your guide and work accordingly.
      • Responsibility: It's your obligation to give people your view on the matter and, most importantly, you have to know that it's true, since your guide is your responsibility.
      • Competence: You have to know what you're talking about and be able to update your guide to fit MapleRoyals' gameplay. Easy as that.
      • Responsiveness: You should know what the readers want to know and what they don't want to know. Keep it simple enough.
    • Social interactions:
      • Marketing: Well, great, you have a guide. What now? First things first. You have to sell yourself. As a good friend of mine would say: You're a brand. How would you go about selling yourself? Well, there's several ways. The easiest way is to link your guide in your signature. This will link your guide to your forum account, and people will connect you with a good guide. Another way is to help people when they ask about something in your guide, and link them to it. They will find it useful (hopefully) and maybe even recommend it to others.
      • Networking: So much to marketing; then there's your networks. The more prominent members you know, the better. They can help you spread the word of your guide. People are most likely drawn to prominent members or staff members if they require help, so if they know of you and your guide, they will link those needing help to your guide. See? Easy. Common sense, even.
    • Self-assurance: Knowing how to write is one thing, but being able to believe in your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses will get you further than you'd expect. This is why being self-assured is an important asset of a good writer.

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    Now that you know the basics of writing, it's time to move on and see: What's the difference between a good and an excellent guide? There's a couple of factors that you should remember when writing a guide to make sure your guide is not just great, but simply terrific.

    Important aspects Tips
    Readability
    • Using coding and formats
    • Correct grammar, punctuation, etc.
    • Aesthetics (pictures, art, etc.)
    • Don't turn your guide into an essay; keep up some humorous touch here and there,
    • otherwise you'll bore the readers
    • Use pictures, tables, lists, etc. whenever you can instead of words
    • Videos > pictures, no exceptions
    Content
    • Know what you're talking about (Duh.)
    • Your guide should be informative and entertaining
    • Share secrets, mechanics, etc.
    • If it doesn't work well, don't write about it
    • Be objective
    • Showing some statistics always helps
    • Explain complicated stuff in detail, keep the rest simple
    • If there's gameplay changes, update your guide accordingly
    • Test everything before you publish it
    • Don't publish unfinished work
    • Stating your opinion should only be done when you feel necessary


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    Okay, now we know what you should do. Let's look at it from the opposite side now: What should you never do? There's several things that are just painstakingly bad and should be avoided. Always. Don't even dare to argue it. This is just common sense, trust me.

    • Walls of text: This is THE. WORST. THING. EVER. A page-long paragraph is just a waste of your time, no one will ever, ever read it entirely. The average attention span is 8 seconds and you can't concentrate on something for over an hour, normally. Walls of text will just kill your guide instantly. Don't ever have one. Use paragraphs or lists or something instead.
    • Inconsistency & Redundancy: Saying things either several times or saying the opposite of something you've said before just doesn't make sense. Sure, if it's important, stress it a time or two, but don't present it again and again... And don't constantly change your guide's format, stick to it. This will make it easier to read.
    • Mistakes: Self-explanatory. Really, grammar is key. reeding dis hurt mi brainz.
    [​IMG]RoyalTip: To avoid mistakes and such, let someone else proof-read your guide, preferably someone who has experience with guide-writing. This will filter out some of the errors.


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    So much for what's important, let's put this thing into deeds. Now, to make entirely clear what's terrible and should never be done, I've re-written a part of my own Shadower guide. Thanks to my friend jhoijhoi for this idea. Writing this made me cry about five times, that's how disgustingly bad it is. Enjoy.

    (I intentionally left out the section titles.)

    Marty's Terrible Shadower Guide Analysis
    hi everyone my name is marty ad this is my shad0wer guide . pls no mean comments i worked vry hard on tis!! shadwers r vry strong and cheap so this is why i liek them vry much , they use deggers to atk and do a lot of dmg so are vry good . they bl0w up misos and do a lot of dmg ! hf reading this guide
    • Mistakes & language: Dear jesus, the mistakes were simply terrible. Always watch your spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.! Let someone proof-read just in case. And, please no 1337…
    • Shortening words: Just don't. No vry, dmg or hf. Only use abbreviations for long-named skills, for example.
    so first at lv10 go to elnia the slime tree to train , the xp is rly gud . u should stay here until u can kpq becuz its rly good xp! after that go to kpq , its fun and xp is ok . i stayed at kpq until lv32 , its really fun and good xp so u should stay there . i had a lot of fun at kpq , becuz my pt leader was very funny and made jokes and it was a lot of fun . i hope you get him too . okay now you go to cpq , its really good xp if u have a good pt . i hoep you can find one becuz it tok me rly long to find one and i just left but i herd it was gud so you should go to cpq . after cpq i dont rly know where 2 go becus im only lv51 , but i heard gs2 was good so go there and lmpq is fun too so try that if u wan . after that i heard you get rly sdtrong so just go do rly strong bosses lik zakum or horny tail to train .
    • Redundancy: All the author (me) mentions is that something is good XP, and it's mentioned several times. Avoid doing that unless it's for emphasis. And also, don't give useless examples, the reader doesn't care and just gets annoyed.
    • Structure: Makes no sense here. Training locations after an introduction? Really?
    • Knowledge: How are you supposed to write a guide if you're not high enough level to know what you're talking about? You can't. Right. So don't, level first and find out for yourself. Always test stuff beforehand!
    ok now ap and sp builds . first ap , i think its best to use everything for int becaus int gives magic and magic is skills and skills are your dmg so put points in that . u dont need luck or dex . str can be good but not 2 much ecause u want ur skills to be strong!!1! now to sp builds . start with disorder its a rly strong skill and u can get the skill where u disapear with it . then get the disappear skill so u cant be hit u will never die ! just put the rest in smth else i did dobble stab and kean eyes . lucky 7 is useless dont get it now ur lv30 and can job adv, go do that and put points ins teal and after that endure . endure gives hp and steal steals iteam frm monsters so ull be rich ez ! idk what after that but haste nd dager master seem good so do those . idk abt 3rd or 4th or 5th job so just take what u think is good . dont take cabbage blow its rly bad .
    • Viability: You should only write about things that actually work. With Maple, you normally are good, but the author here (me again, hello!) screwed up badly, as you can tell. If you're going against the meta, explain your ways!
    • Reasoning: Well, as I just said: Explain your choices. You can't just say "Do this because that's what's good", people want to know why. Don't just name what something does, explain what you can do with it.
    • Aesthetics / Formatting: You probably noticed that there has been no pictures, no visual appeal, not even a bit of colours or fonts or anything. You're basically just reading (faulty) texts. Always try to make your guide look nice and break up the text a little bit with the help of BBcode; more to that later.
    • Just so you know: There's no 5th job and there never will be. No #5thJobHype, sorry, guys. And Bandits can't blow cabbages, either. Author (me again), get your facts straight.
    ok this is it for now i might add stuff later when im higher lvl but for now this is it . i hope u like it , please dont be mean this is my first guide . bye!!
    • Conclusion: You finish your guide here, and you should leave a good impression. Asking for feedback and constructive criticism, as well as thanking the reader is a nice a touch. Just as with the intro, don't ask not to be negative, and don't use the "First guide"-excuse. It's not a valid one.
    • Preliminary publishing: I've made this mistake once and never will again. Don't publish unfinished work! It'll just leave a bad impression.


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    After having read that terrifying guide by Marty (sadly), it's time to talk about the structure. The author clearly screwed up the structure, jumping from the introduction to details and back to fundamental info. So let's talk about some typical structures.

    Of course, it completely depends on what kind of guide you're making. There's a typical structure for your average job guide, but general guides or guides with really specific topics often require their own, specific structure. There's basically one path you have to follow in all cases, though. This would be:

    • Introduction
      • What's your guide about?
      • Who are you?
      • What will you explain?
    • Fundamental information
      • What's the basic info about your guide's topic?
      • What should the reader know before getting to know details?
      • Why is this so important for your guide's topic?
    • Mechanics & tactics discussion
      • What are (often complicated) parts?
      • What requires special explanation and illustration?
      • How does one do this in-game?
    • Applications
      • What can you do with the above mentioned mechanics and info?
      • Why would you do this?
    • Final comments, tips, tricks, etc.
      • Is there any last advice for the reader?
      • Is there something you would like to emphasize or point out to make it easier for the reader?
    • Conclusion & credits
      • Thank the reader
      • Ask for constructive criticism and feedback
      • Give credits where necessary
    This is just a general overview. All the sections should cover those sub-points to be considered finished and detailed. Of course, not all guides have the same chapters, but this general structure is universally used.

    [​IMG]RoyalTip: Having a checklist to control your guide for these points is definitely useful so you don't miss anything. Guides can get long and you might lose the overview a bit!


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    We have the content of your guide, the structure, your writing skills are outstanding. This still doesn't make up for a good guide. You just have text now. You need aesthetic appeal! What's a guide when it doesn't look all fancy? Nothing. But what if you're not a professional graphics designer?! No worries. God (also known as Matt) has given you the ability to use BBcode and a fancy editor:

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    Lots of icons! Oh noes! Good thing they all make sense. You'll be using most of them, and some have hotkeys that you most likely know from Word.

    The first icons are to change your font. Obviously, the B, I, U and S make sense: Bold, italic, underline and strike. Pressing Ctrl (Cmd) + B/I/U/S (depends which one you want) will automatically enable/disable it. Easy, right? That's what I thought.
    After that, there's the colour, size and font family. These are very important! The colour is the one you'll be using most; you can use colours perfectly to highlight, underline or caption something. Don't use very hard-to-see colours, though! These are mostly very light/bright colours, avoid those! And don't overuse it (like this) to avoid annoying and distract people.
    Size and font should be treated carefully. Choose a single font family for your guide, and make it one that's good and easy to read. Most people recommend Verdana, Trebuchet MS, Tahoma or the basic (Georgia).

    So much for design. Now it's time to look into formatting. With formatting, I basically mean the use of links, lists, in-/outdents, spoilers and quotes. All icons should make clear what each and every one does. Again, don't overuse them! Lists are mostly used to quickly show the aspects or order of something and to break the texts. I've used them quite a lot already. I think it's pretty clear.

    Spoilers are meant to hide explanations of mechanics that not everyone should read unless they want to. This is a great way of hiding walls of text! They're easy to use, and I would recommend using the BBcode here instead of the icon, which is:
    Code:
    [SPOILER="<title of spoiler>"] ... [/SPOILER]
    Well, here's a good way to break up texts. Expect walls of text here to explain mechanics and stuff. I'm not going to explain stuff though, I'll just dump that "lorem ipsum" stuff here. Enjoy.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

    And finally, there's the most important visual aspect: Tables and media. Using pictures, videos, tables, etc. in your guide will instantly make it look more appealing and structured, giving you a big advantage. Pictures (.GIFs included!) are easily put in the editor with the icon of a picture (with a mountain and a sun on it) and videos are the one next to it. Easy as that!
    Tables, on the other hand, require some more work. They only work with BBcode, and the following ones will be used:
    Code:
    Begin/end of the table: [table] ... [/table]
    Begin/end of the row: [tr] ... [/tr]
    Header: [th] ... [/th]
    Normal cell: [td] ... [/td]
    For more info on tables and how to use them, take a look at this thread by Chokladkakan.

    [​IMG]RoyalTip: To make navigating your table easier, use in- and outdents to to make the structure clear. To get rid of the empty gap in the final post, remove the indents again. Example in the spoiler!

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    Oh, and one more thing: There's the aspect of using anchors. Anchors basically make it easy for people to find what they want in your guide. You add an anchor in your guide by using this BBcode:
    Code:
    [ANCHOR]<anchor name>[/ANCHOR]
    Now that you have your anchor set up and ready, let's add them to your Table of Contents. Simply add a link to the chapter, then enter the page link and add #<anchor name> to it at the end. Ta da! You just added your anchor. Isn't that great? Yes, it is. I know.

    There you have it! Your guide's content, structure and formatting is done now. Fantastic!

    [​IMG]RoyalTip: It's highly advised that you learn to use the BBcode editor instead of the Rich Text Editor. They both have their uses; Rich Text is more user-friendly and better for typing in general, but for tables, lists and spoilers, always use the BBcode editor to avoid unwanted misformatting (and a headache!).


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    • Don't make paragraphs longer than 7 sentences. It's better to use shorter paragraphs; but not too short! 4-7 sentences is the best.
    • After publishing your guide, click "Watch Thread" so you know when someone posts on your guide and you can comment it.
    • When you do comment on someone else's comment on your guide, do it in a calm and civil way. If the comment upsets you, close your browser. Do whatever it takes to calm you down; maybe drink some coffee, get a beer, play some Maple, throw rocks at your neighbour's dog (cruel), whatever. Then, once you're back and calm, answer. And be sure to give good reasons when you do.
    • Don't overuse anything. The key to everything is moderation.
    • Unless you're some kind of demigod, don't write a guide under 1,000 words and claim it to be "in-depth", "extensive" or "comprehensive". It isn't.
    • If your guide is very long, use spoilers to hide finished sections to make looking at previews easier.
    • In-game icons and pictures (of e.g. skills) can be found easily at MapleWiki or MapleTip.
    • You can easily make screenshots with software made for it. Examples are puush, Gyazo or lightshot.
    Q: "Oh based Marty, I want to write a guide but I'm not a great writer. I tried following this guide and it didn't work! What do I do?"
    A: "Well, you can practice writing more, of course. What I would recommend, however, is first writing a draft of your guide in your own way, then asking someone, a good writer, to re-write parts they think isn't fitting or good enough. If you can't find someone to do this, Google is your best friend. Look at other guides of similar topics and see how they write. This could help you get an idea of what you should write. Be sure to give credit if you use some of there info, though!"

    Q: "I'm not a native English speaker but want to write a guide. What should I do?"
    A: "This question is similar to the one above. Therefore, try that. Find someone who's a native English speaker, or, at least, good at it, to proof-read it. If you don't know someone, you can always post the guide and ask in the Introduction for feedback concerning the language, there's loads of people out there wanting to help."

    Q: "Should I make a table of contents before or after writing the main part of my guide?"
    A: "This is personal preference, really. I prefer writing my table of contents beforehand; it gives me a guideline to work by. Some prefer it the other way around. Try making one first and if you think it's not good at all, just start writing the main part first."

    Q: "But Marty, I'm not artistic. How do I make banners and art and everything?!"
    A: "First of all, banners and art aren't a necessity. It's definitely a great addition, though! However, think of adding pictures and videos. As they say, pictures say more than a thousand words. And videos say more than a thousand pictures. If you're still dead set on wanting a banner, ask around on the forum, people surely are willing to help you out if you ask politely with a pretty, pretty please. That's what I did, basically!"

    I will add your questions to the FAQ! Feel free to ask!


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    First of all, I'd like to thank you for reading my guide. I hope you liked it and that it helped you make your guide! I'm always open to constructive criticism and feedback (doesn't this sound familiar?) and will do my best to keep this guide updated and will answer questions ASAP (again, sounds familiar!).

    Special thanks to:
    • jhoijhoi, a friend of mine who also happens to be the goddess of League of Legends guides. She made her own "guide guide", and I asked her if I could use some of her knowledge in this guide.
    • @herpderp for the banner and art.
    • @Plenty for useful tips here and there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
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  2. GriZ
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    nice guide ~
    going back to my reading
     
  3. Goofy
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    Oooo someone beat plenty to the guide on guides.
     
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  4. Plenty
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    Plenty Well-Known Member

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    The struggle!

    Skimmed through the whole thing, but from what I have read so far, this sounds great!
     
  5. Marty
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    Marty Donator

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    The guide on guides is having trouble with tables.

    RoyalTip: dont combine lists and tables
     
  6. Plenty
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    Plenty Well-Known Member

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    Lists and fonts don't mix either.
     
  7. Marty
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    Marty Donator

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    Both tables fixed. Guide is good now.

    Enjoy. :)

    @Plenty any feedback? #GuideGuideHype
     
  8. Plenty
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    Plenty Well-Known Member

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    I'm in class right now so I'm just skimming around.

    Too much text to read on my phone x.x
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
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  9. Marty
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  10. Plenty
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    Some things I'd like to add:
    • Learn to use BB Code Editor instead of Rich Text. It'll save you hours of headache and it's more fun to type out codes.
    • You can get easy access to pictures at MapleTip or MapleWiki by copying and pasting the searches. Hidden Street pictures are not support here.
    • If you need to add a quick screen shot, use Gyazo and copy/paste the picture or link.
    • Add your opinion only when you feel necessary. I learned this after making my Mastery Book Guide. Don't put your opinion in a strictly informative guide. Whether you feel something should be said, leave it out for a completely different guide or save it in the reply section.
    • Spoilers can be a nightmare. Make sure that whenever you do plan on putting spoilers that you use BB Code editor. You'll organize everything better and you can easily find where the mistakes are.
    • If you're guide to really long and you have to have to scroll up and down a lot to preview your guide, use spoilers to hide an already finished section or section you want to work on later so you can see exactly what you need to work on. This is especially helpful if your guide has a bunch of pictures that you need to scroll up and down from.
    • As for banners, you don't have to be super detailed in it. I've learned that people are more impressed with the information rather than pictures themselves. While it would be extremely helpful and awesome that you have someone or yourself draw/make you banners, if your content is engaging enough, people will look past that.
    • If you find a bug while writing or just feel like something needs to be improved, write up a thread in this section here.
    • Self motivation is key. Don't make guides and expect to be instantly popular. Same thing goes for likes. I've worked on my leeching guide for hours upon hours and way more research than necessary and gained a decent amount of likes, but compare that to my scroll guide, which took like an hour tops, got more likes.
    There's a lot of things that I could write about that would help people in a lot of small ways, but they're mostly coding stuff using BB Code Editor like inserting URLs to words or always be sure to end each pair of code.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
  11. Marty
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    Updated. Reformatted some stuff, too. @Plenty, your special thanks is added, too, of course. :)
     
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    Daaamn marty .... You crazy xD
     
  13. Bruuh
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    This guide convinced me to make a guide too. Guess I'll have to get my baking skills up, because soon there'll be a "how to bake a cake" guide on the MapleRoyals!
     
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  14. Marty
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    10/10 would r-eat (worst pun 2k14)
     
  15. Plenty
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    First thought when reading your post. Nice and toasty.

    I'll be making another soon as well and planning on testing out anchors for the first time. I've never learned to utilize them because I already relied on spoilers for navigation.
     
  16. Marty
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    Anchors are mainly used for table of contents, not much more, or to make referencing within your guide easier. I'm guessing this is kind of obvious lol.

    Your guides haven't really had much use for them so far.
     
  17. Plenty
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    If I got rid of all the spoilers in my guides, you may think otherwise :p
     
  18. Marty
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    Probably, but you have spoilers all over the place so... :p
     
  19. Plenty
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    I guess you also add that in your guide. You like to use anchors whereas I prefer spoilers. Both are different yet similar in a way.

    I'm going to make a somewhat comprehensive Ice Lightning Mage Guide so I may want to use both out.
     
  20. Marty
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    That's basically where they're most used: Long guides. This guide isn't that long (~3,900 words), but my Shadower guide is way longer (~13,000 words IIRC) and it's easier to navigate with both spoilers and anchors.
     
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