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Guide to Writing Ideas for the SEGA Shorts; Want to write a SEGA Short?
Topic Started: Sunday Aug 25 2013, 09:51 PM (19,122 Views)
KyoSo
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Guide to Writing Ideas for the SEGA Shorts
by: [Hidden Content: Login/Register to View] and [Hidden Content: Login/Register to View]

Latest Revision: 10-25-2016



About This Guide (and the Authors Behind It)

So, you’ve watched the Sonic Short at least forty times each, and then realize Sonic Paradox has a forum. And, lo and behold, you the viewer can submit an idea to the next volume of SEGA Shorts. You hit the reply button, excited at the prospect of your work brought to life by your favorite animators. Suddenly, an idea pops into your head. You chuckle at the thought, and excitedly post it. You're a shoe-in for the Shorts, right?

"That doesn't work," somebody responds. "It's not funny at all." "This doesn't make sense." "You're literally worse than Hitler." What happened? It was funny to you, why doesn't anyone else agree? And why'd somebody feel the need to invoke Hitler over it? What the hell, man?

Well, with the latter it's because some people are just dicks.

But lucky for you, this guide was created to help you make the most of your shorts pitches. Not only will it explain why your previous ideas weren't met with praise, but it will clue you in on the right frame of mind for brainstorming ideas for the Shorts. I can't promise reading it will make you a comedy genius, but I can certainly promise taking it to heart will give you a much better chance of coming up with something good. Which is what you came here for, presumably. Certainly not for the food, it's rubbish.

I advise you read through the entire guide at least once as it extensively covers most of the major pitfalls you may run into. After reading, you should have a much better understanding of what kinds of ideas we will take seriously, how to avoid some of the most common mistakes, methods you could use to come up with a good idea and even the best way to present your idea when you're ready to show it to the world. Come back again on occasion to brush up on your skills, and because the guide might have updated since you were last here. I'm continuously improving my own writing skills, so every often I like to come back and do a major revision.

Rules are meant to be broken, but, to quote Brentalfloss: "You have to master the rules first before you can break or bend them." For some good further reading on major comedy pitfalls, check out the brilliant Cracked.com article 4 Things People Mistakenly Think Are Automatically Hilarious.

This guide is written by KyoSo, the mind behind the unique and twisted abridged series Xonic S, with contributions from RecD, creator of Seaside Denied and Metropolis Mayhem and script editor for Xonic S. Some of the material is compiled from other members' advice, and expanded upon.

Now let’s begin, shall we?


Do Not Create Ideas Just Because You Can; Don’t Be Overly Hasty

I can not stress this enough. Do not post an idea because you feel you have to, or just for sake of having done so. Rushed, hot-off-the-press-of-your-mind-ideas are usually a lot less brilliant than they seem at the time. I'd compare it to a drive-by shooting with a single bullet; sure, you MIGHT hit your target, but the chances are ridiculously slim.

While some marvelous ideas can and have come in an instant, when they were posted, many if not all of them were the result of personal fine-tuning, evaluation, and thought as opposed to someone merely running to post the idea that suddenly occurred to them. Toying with in a idea for a while before deciding to post it will definitely raise your standard of quality.

Write because you love the craft, not to prove how funny you are.

Things to Consider Before You Start (Anything, Ever)

Currently, what we are looking for in ideas are unique and funny jabs at or plays on concepts in various SEGA games. To pick a fairly obvious example, look at how Tails flies by spinning his tails around each other in an endless spiral. That shouldn't work. In fact it's downright ridiculous.

So think, now what would happen if he tried that in the real world? While the intricacies of Tails' butt is an easy target, that's the sort of mindset you should work from. You shouldn't just write a generic gag and then tack SEGA characters onto it.

Several points you should consider when writing your ideas:

1. Is it a unique and interesting joke based on a specific SEGA franchise, or is it just a generic gag with SEGA characters acting it out?

2. Is this too easy a joke? If so, it's very possible that it's been done many times before.

3. Think from the perspective of your reader. Would other people laugh at this, or just me?

4. Does it set you apart from those who make ideas quickly and poorly?



Avoid at All Costs:

These are things you shouldn't do, plain and simple. Do not do them.

1. Plagiarism - You'd think this would go without saying. You'd think. Additionally, instances of plagiarism are MUCH easier to detect than you’d expect. If you steal something, you WILL be found out.

2. Memes - Memes are pseudo-injokes. Everyone feels special for getting even though everyone else does too. Plus, as they are someone else's creation, recycling them for a Short would fall under plagiarism.

3. Complete and utter randomness - I can not stress enough that randomness in of itself is not funny. Successful "random" humor is usually not random at all, but in fact very deliberately and specifically crafted to create an amusing juxtaposition and/or logical disconnect. This is expounded upon in the Cracked article linked in the introduction.

4. Jokes/audio from TV/movies - Not in the sense of using an audio clip for comedic effect, but the idea of just taking a scene from some show and animating characters to it. The only reasonable excuse for doing this would be as animation practice, but there's no inherent entertainment value beyond the audio itself. As such, it's basically plagiarism. I'm aware we already covered that twice, but this specific variation deserved a special mention on account of how common it is. Yeah, it's hard to get VAs, but if your idea got accepted as a Short you automatically get a VA from us to perform it.

5. Fancharacters - Making a short about a fancharacter is pointless. The audience doesn't know anything about your characters and there isn't enough time to properly introduce them. Stick to existing characters; there's more than enough of them to choose from, and audiences are far more likely to appreciate a joke about a character they know than some purple hedgehog you made up.

6. Fart jokes/scatological humor - We're not 6. Or Family Guy viewers. We're above this, and so are you.

7. Pointless mayhem - Characters beating the crap out of each other is not a joke. Slapstick is an art form and just having someone get hurt is not automatically funny.

8. Gratuitous swearing - Try to keep the language TV-14 at the worst. "Shit", "f*ck", "goddamn" or other TV-MA words won't make it to the final product.

9. Gory visuals - Blood is allowed, but anything more intense is usually crossing the line.

10. Character Gets Hit by X or Runs Into X - Unless the slapstick is PART of an overall, more clever gag. But if the gag is simply “DERPHERP THAT CHICK FROM SPACE CHANNEL 5 BANGS HER HEAD ON A DOORFRAME HAHAHA”, then it’s not acceptable.

11. Gratuitous fanservice - This is a comedy collab, not a fap festival. Yes, we do occasionally host the Folsom Street Fair, but that’s different. “Sonic sees your favorite shipped female / male / gender-ambiguous-being showering / naked / in sexy cosplay / in bondage / being whipped by Paula Deen as butter slowly drips across her sagging, wrinkled breasts” falls under this and is NOT acceptable.

12. Jokes you yourself don’t understand. If you can’t even explain what the joke is supposed to be, then you probably shouldn’t submit. We actually get these. Please don’t make more.

13. Sonic.EXE and other poorly-written SEGA creepypasta in general - Unless, of course, you’re doing a satire or parody of these generic crapfests.


Things You Should Generally Avoid

These things are discouraged, but allowed.

1. Sexual humor - Acceptable if used in moderation, but don’t cross the line or it’ll just be tacky and unfunny. This is, more than anything, the type of humor that you NEED to fully understand to write well; “I watched every season of Family Guy!” does not count as understanding it or comedy at all for that matter.

2. Censor bleeps - This is merely the personal opinion of the guide’s writer, but censor bleeps typically don’t add anything unless used JUST right.

3. Extreme out-of-character behavior - Try to avoid characters acting in total contradiction to their official personalities unless there is some reason for them to. While it can be absolutely hilarious if done right, the typical “HAHAHAH SEGATA SANSHIRO ACTING GIRLY IS FUNNY LOL” crap won’t fly.


Why Sonic Running Into Things Used to Work, But Not Any More

Sonic running into things worked when Sonic Shorts were new because, at that point, it wasn't a cliche; it was a gag that adheres to the points I cover in this guide.

To elaborate: everyone has wondered at some point, "What if Sonic tripped or slipped on something when he was running at high speed?" It's a question all of us have thought about before and that's why the short was funny. It poked fun at the Sonic universe in (what was at the time) an original way. It wasn't just "WHAT IF SONIC GOT HURT LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL". It happened because of a "What if?" question that we have all made at some point in our lives. I mean, yes, it's funny slapstick, but it's slapstick happening for a reason.

Sonic running into things no longer works, because the original reason it worked is lost when you do it too many times. It's no longer a funny play on something all of us have wondered; it's just another short where Sonic slams into a wall; it's now just more mindless slapstick.

Again, in volume 6, the short that plays on the part of Sonic Adventure 2 where Sonic jumps out the helicopter by having him die when he hits street is a jab at something from the Sonic universe. It's funny because it's mocking the lack of realism in that sequence, not just because Sonic gets hurt. Again, it's meaningful slapstick, the result of a bigger and genuinely clever idea. Sonic falling to his death wasn't what was funny, it was Sonic falling to his death in the exact context of that cutscene that was funny.

General Guidelines for Presenting Your Ideas

Even if you have a brilliant idea, bad presentation can kill it just like how bad acting can kill a wonderfully crafted scene in a movie. Here are some things to remember when you post your ideas.

1. Don't claim you have the greatest idea ever - Bragging about the quality of your idea is a waste of time, and in my experience an idea is ALWAYS rubbish if the author gives a gloat-tastic prelude. Just post the idea itself and any information or comments you'd like to add.

2. Use correct English - Bad grammar will make you look like an idiot, plain and simple. If you aren't very skilled at spelling and punctuation, take some time to get it as correct as you can. You will be taken more seriously by the other members. Which brings us to...

3. Do not write in internet shorthand - You are on a message board, not a chatroom. Do not use 1337 or needlessly abbreviate words (i.e. "2" for "two", "u" for "you", "plz" for "please" and so on). Type in full, correct English and you'll be taken far more seriously. We don’t speak no Commie Ruskie jabber*.

* - Sonic Paradox does not endorse this position, but does advise you to Marxist-proof your windows.

4. Do not demand that we make your idea into a short - If you do this, you're just going to come across as a jackass and nobody will want to do so.

5. Make sure your idea is actually a joke - While it's OK to post a concept or premise rather than a fully developed idea (I've done so on several occasions), something along the lines of "WHAT IF SEGATA SANSHIRO FOUGHT ECCO THE DOLPHIN LOL u decide who wins!!!1" is absolutely worthless.

6. Be clear on the joke - Don't post vague situations as ideas. For example, "I always wondered what would happen if NIGHTS met Ryo Hazuki“ isn't actually a joke. It's basically "Here's a scenario, make it funny." While posting a potentially funny situation but not necessary a complete idea isn't inherently a bad thing, the majority of the suggestions I see framed in this manner are clearly made by people just fishing for someone else to do the work for them.

7. Do not create your own ideas thread - There is a designated (and pinned) topic called "Sega Shorts Ideas Thread" for use by everybody. Please do not make your own. It will be locked or deleted.

8. PLEASE don't use emoticons as part of your idea - It makes you look like an idiot. Trust me.

9. Do NOT state that you’re going to animate the idea no matter what people say about it - you’ll appear foolish and people won’t be concerned with the quality of your idea or helping you at all.


These Rules in Action (in Which the Guide Becomes a Thieving Bastard)

For example, say you've just come up with the idea of Sonic the Hedgehog chasing Robotnik and being unable to catch up with him (as seen before the final bosses of Sonic 2 and 3&K), eventually falling to the ground in exhaustion and lamenting that a fat man can run so fast.

You would, of course, be lynched since that was already done in Sonic Shorts Volume 8. But for the purposes of this guide, that's what we're going with.

The wrong way to post your idea, presented in a manner only barely exaggerated from some examples I've seen in the past, would be:

Quote:
 
i haz teh greatest idea evar!! sonic RUNNING to catch robotnik and he runs FASTER and lulz sonic flal to ground and scream “F*CKING FAT MAN IS THE FASTEST THING ALIIIIIVE AND NOT ME NOOOOO!!!” and then he HSOOT HIMSELF THROUGH THE HEAD or should i say HEADGEHOG LOLOLOLOLOL


While this probably would be enough to get you a five year contract as a Family Guy writer (seriously, it's a terrible show and flies in the face of this guide's rules), we have something called quality control. A better way to go about this would be:

Quote:
 
So you know how before the final bosses in the Genesis games, Robotnik can run as fast as Sonic? What if there was no final boss, and instead Robotnik just ran from you until Sonic collapsed in exhaustion? This is how I see it going over:

Eggman: (running) Ho! Ho!

*Sonic chases eggman, slowing down over time as his breathing becomes more labored*

Eggman (laughing in the face of physics by continuing to run): Ho! Ho!

Sonic (exhausted, gasping for air): How...how can a man THAT fat….RUN SO FAST?!

Let me know what you think of the idea and what I can improve.


Of course, the presentation for your ideas will vary, but you can always count on these rules to guide you.


We Are Not Being Elitist Jackasses

I have more than once come across people saying "I might as well give up" to helpful criticism, and I want to drive the point home that we are not telling you shouldn't try. Most of time our responses are telling you exactly what's wrong with your idea and how to fix it, and there's no reason to take offense to this.

Granted, a nasty response is always possible, but don't take it personally.

If All Else Fails, Just Remember This (and Also Everything Else In the Guide if You Can Manage)

None of us became experts overnight. We've all been writing for years, and we didn't just instantly become as skilled as we are now. If you fail, try again. Practice makes perfect.

I personally know how it feels when everybody is better and I just constantly fail. I was writing stories for fanfiction.net when I was ten years old. I’m going to let that sink in for a moment. I received loads of reviews complaining about how terrible they were and how I should just give up.

And I’m not the only one who started out in a pit so deep Russia took credit for digging it. Keep in mind that, when guide co-author RecD was ten years old, his favorite Sonic character was Chris Thorndyke; this is his one and only sin against mankind. Guess what? I didn't give up, and neither did he. We loved to create and we weren't going to let failure hold us back. Now we’re channeling the skills we learned over the years into writing an ideas guide for Sonic Paradox, sharing the tricks of the trade we've learned over the years to give you, the reader, a leg-up that we never had.

Your skills will develop. Just give it time, and remember to keep practicing. I wrote this guide, and I practice writing constantly and am always learning new things (hence why the guide gets updated). Keep writing your ideas down, and remember:

1. Is it a unique and interesting joke based on a specific SEGA franchise, or is it just a generic gag with SEGA characters acting it out?

2. Is this too easy a joke? If so, it's very possible that it's been done many times before.

3. Think from the perspective of your reader. Would other people laugh at this, or just me?

4. Does it set you apart from those who make ideas quickly and poorly?



Let these points guide you, and you will come up with a winner at some point*.

* - This is not a guarantee. Sonic Paradox takes no responsibility for failure of this guide to produce the results intended. Usage may also cause cranial shrinkage and cirrhosis of the liver. Results may very. Do not read this guide if you are nursing, pregnant, or so pudgy you've been mistaken for it.
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Sweet_lil_Eliza
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Come on! This is not something we argue about
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792Ashman
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Thank you Sonicyay for quoting that entire manuscript of information just to say 2 lines.... sigh.

Anyhoo, this thing is brilliant RD and Smeg. I'd say it's the best guide on the internet and ya'll should be proud of this thing. It really is both engaging and informative so pat yourselves on the back. And for those reading this comment and not the guide: READ THE GUIDE!
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Sweet_lil_Eliza
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Agreed, the nazi did a great job writing these ^_^
sweet_lil_eliza (swit-leel-eleeeezah)
> A saccharine addict girl who wants to do a lot of things but doesnt has much time for it. Likes to talk to people. Draws. Chocolates.
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Sonicyay2
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792Ashman
Monday Aug 26 2013, 07:51 AM
Thank you Sonicyay for quoting that entire manuscript of information just to say 2 lines.... sigh.

Anyhoo, this thing is brilliant RD and Smeg. I'd say it's the best guide on the internet and ya'll should be proud of this thing. It really is both engaging and informative so pat yourselves on the back. And for those reading this comment and not the guide: READ THE GUIDE!
You're welcome ;-)
Don't you dare call me Sonicgay, OR ELSE...
I make half-decent Stickman animations. You might like them.
Oh, I also like Sonic, Mario, Powerpuff Girls, Sonic, Sonic, SpongeBob, and Sonic. Did I mention Sonic?
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Sweet_lil_Eliza
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^ *clap*
sweet_lil_eliza (swit-leel-eleeeezah)
> A saccharine addict girl who wants to do a lot of things but doesnt has much time for it. Likes to talk to people. Draws. Chocolates.
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KyoSo
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I want to make it a rule that you HAVE to submit at least one Skies of Arcadia idea per post.

If only we lived in an ideal world where that could happen.
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llirbwerdnadivad
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Why was this all typed up again? Wasn't it already there? For that matter, why is there another shorts submission page?
SONIC FOREVER!!!
POKEMON FOREVER!!!

I want to go to Sonic's world so badly it hurts...
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KyoSo
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This is a major rewrite for the new SEGA Shorts.
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RabidBadger1632
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This article was hilarious. I think Smegerama and Recorderdude should have their own animated comedy. It would be much better than Family Guy.
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AnimeKid56
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i Have an idea with Gunstar Super heroes
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Sweet_lil_Eliza
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AnimeKid56
Thursday Nov 12 2015, 07:19 AM
i Have an idea with Gunstar Super heroes
You'll have to post your ideas here, my friend.

(Make sure you read this, tho)
sweet_lil_eliza (swit-leel-eleeeezah)
> A saccharine addict girl who wants to do a lot of things but doesnt has much time for it. Likes to talk to people. Draws. Chocolates.
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