Thinking about writing a story? Believe it or not, presentation will be one of the most important factors, if
not the most important factor, of your fanfiction. Many readers, myself included, are completely turned
off by an author who doesn’t take the time to spell check his/her story. Please remember: if you do not
take your story seriously enough to do spell check, how do you expect us to take it seriously while
I hope everyone will read this and refer to it when they’re having problems with their grammar.
Absolutely nobody is perfect, but when you write something and put it online, you should at least try your
hardest to improve the quality of your story. Hopefully, this will help. So let’s go.
I. Commonly Misused Words
1. They’re, Their, and There
- Their is the possessive form of ‘they’.
- They’re is a contraction of ‘they are’.
- There is a location.
- Example: The Vegas crew got their equipment ready. “The bodies are over there,” said Brass, “and
they’re pretty messed up.”
2. Your and You’re
- Your is the possessive form of ‘you’.
- You’re is the contraction of ‘you are’.
- Example: “You’re crazy, Grissom,” exclaimed Catherine. “There’s no way your spider can talk.”
3. It’s and Its
- It’s is a contraction of ‘it is’.
- Its is a possessive pronoun (like hers, his, etc). An apostrophe is never used.
- Example: “It’s not a crocodile, it’s an alligator,” said Delko, “and its tooth is stuck in the victim’s arm.”
4. Who’s and Whose
- Who’s is a contraction of ‘who is’.
- Whose is the possessive form of ‘who’.
- Example: “Whose milk is this?” Grissom wondered. Examining the carton closely, he asked out loud,
“Who’s always leaving unlabeled milk in the refrigerator?”
5. Two, Too, and To
- Two is a number.
- Too is a synonym for ‘also’ and an adverb that describes quantity.
- To is a preposition.
- Example: “Hey, you two,” said Mac, pointing at Danny and Aiden. “Head down to Coney Island; take
Stella, too. But leave your coats here; it’s too hot out there.”
6. No, Know, and Now
- No means no.
- Know means ‘to be aware of’.
- Now is the momentary present.
- Example: “No,” said the suspect, “I don’t know how my fingerprints got on that gun. Can I leave now?”
7. Thought, Though, and Tough
- Thought means to have or formulate in the mind.
- Though means despite the fact that; although.
- Tough means 'strong'.
- Example: "I thought the suspect was in jail already," Catherine said, "but the guard says he escaped. I
don't know how that's possible, though now that I think about it, he was always very tough."
II. The Space Between
1. No one is never written as ‘noone’ or 'none'.
2. A lot is never ‘alot’.
3. A part and apart are two different things. A part is a piece of something (example: The eyepiece is a
part of the microscope). Apart is to be separate (example: How can we tell the two suspects apart?
4. The word breakdown, as in 'emotional breakdown', is never written as 'break down'. Same goes for
'shakedown'. 'Break down' is a completely different phrase.
5. Everyone refers to people. It's never 'every one' unless you're talking about objects. Example: Every
one of those chairs is broken. I hope everyone sits on the floor instead.
III. This vs That
1. Than vs Then
- Than is used for comparison.
- Then is used to indicate time or consequence.
- Example: Warrick was taller than Nicky. This bothered Nicky a lot; he threw a hissy fit, then walked
away. But then, he came back and apologized.
2. Isle vs Aisle
- Isle is a small island.
- Aisle is a passageway between seating areas.
- Example: After Eric and Calleigh walked down the aisle, they headed for their honeymoon in their
3. Lose vs Loose
- Lose is the failure to get, obtain, or win.
- Loose is something that is not bound or fastened or gathered together.
- Example: Warrick was going to lose all his money in the casinos. When he arrived his pockets were full
of money, and now his pants were getting loose. Boy, did he feel like a loser.
4. Chose vs Choose
- Chose is past tense.
- Choose is present tense.
- Example: "Yesterday, I chose the salad," thought Stella out loud. "Today, I will choose the vegetable
5. Waste vs Waist
- Waste is garbage or useless activity.
- Waist is the narrowing of the body between the ribs and hips.
- Example: "Delko, why do you always waste my time?" asked Speed, annoyed. "Just tie that rope
around your waist and let's go."
6. Accept vs Except
- Accept is to receive willingly something given or offered.
- Except is to take exception to.
- Example: “Okay, Greg, I will accept your presents,” Sara said. "Except the salted ham. I'm a vegetarian,
7. This vs These
- This is singular. Example: This chair.
- These is plural. Example: These chairs.
8. Breathe vs Breath
- Breathe is a verb.
- Breath is a noun.
- Example: "Is it possible for corpses to breathe, Alexx?" Horatio asked. "Cause I can feel this body's
breath on my arm."
9. Stake vs Steak
- Stake is a instrument of execution or a right or legal share of something.
- Steak is a cut of meat.
- Example: While Danny played a high stake game of poker in Atlantic City, Sheldon sulked in his
apartment, eating a big piece of steak. He briefly wondered if the stake they used to kill the cow had
been washed first.
10. Break vs Brake
- Break is the act of delaying or interrupting the continuity.
- Brake is a restraint used to slow or stop a vehicle.
- Example: "Hit the brakes, Nick," said Greg, "before we slam into a wall and break Grissom's microscope
into a million pieces."
11. Wander vs Wonder
- Wander is to move about aimlessly or without any destination.
- Wonder is a state in which you want to learn more about something.
- Example: While Sara wandered around the desert, she wondered if she would ever be able to survive
the heat. Wonder Woman would never have this problem.
12. Man and Woman vs Men and Women
- 'Man' and 'woman' are singular.
- 'Men' and 'women' are plural.
- This is easy if you try to remember that the letter a will always signify singular while the letter e signifies
plural. Think about it. A man. These men.
- Example: "The women in that room are free to go," said Detective Flack to one of his officers. "But
keep that woman; she looks very suspicious."
IV. Sloppiness is NOT an option
While anybody can make a mistake (hey, even spell checkers aren't perfect), there shouldn’t be an
excuse for sloppy punctuation. Everybody learns this in second grade. So, if you're in third grade or
higher, you should know this already. Whether you want to believe it or not, punctuation says a lot about
the author. If I stumble upon an author who doesn't use commas, periods, etc, I will assume he/she is not
very bright or is very lazy. Either way, it doesn't make you look good. So do yourself a favor and always
take the time to check for punctuation.
1. A sentence always starts with a capital letter and ends in any form of punctuation.
2. It's not a very good idea to use more than one exclamation point. An exclamation point denotes
excitement. Excitement is a binary state: either you're excited, or you're not. Therefore, using more than
one exclamation point is redundant. The same goes for question marks.
3. Apostrophes are never used to indicate plural. A group of women named Sara are not Sara's. They're
4. A semicolon is used to join two sentences slightly more closely than they would be joined if separated
by a full stop (or period). It often replaces a conjunction such as 'and' or 'but'. A writer might consider
this appropriate where they are trying to indicate a close relationship between two sentences, or a 'run-
on' in meaning from one to the next; they don't wish the connection to be broken by the abrupt use of a
5. Names should never be written in lower case. There is no excuse for this. Similarly, Random
Capitalization Is Very Distracting And A Major Grammar Faux Pas. Unless the word is a name (person,
place or thing), starts a sentence, or is a title preceding a name, do not capitalize it.
6. NetSpeak is not cool. It's never been cool. It'll never be cool. So 'you' is always 'you', never 'u'. 'What'
is never 'wot', 'that' is never 'dat', etc.
7. If you use a parenthesis, punctuate the phrase inside the parenthesis. Though no capitalization or
period is necessary, they phrase acts like a sentence of its own. Remember: Parenthesis (aren't they
cool?) act as an independent sentence, therefore punctuation (semi-colons, commas, exclamation
points, etc., but no periods) is necessary.
8. Spell checkers aren't proof readers. I know everyone wants to post their story right away so they can
get their feedback as soon as possible, but always take the time to beta your story. It's a great idea to
get a friend or a beta to read it for you. A fresh pair of eyes can pick up errors your tired eyes could
never spot. Just make sure the person who is editing for you has a good knowledge of English grammar.
Imagine how much more feedback you'll get when people see how great your story looks!
9. Please take some time to research. Never underestimate your reader. The great thing about CSI fans
is that we're naturally fascinated by science. And people who are fascinated by science know their
science. So don't try to fool us into thinking a body can decompose in 5 hours. We know it can't. If
there's something you don't know or don't understand, well, you're already online. Google it! At the end
of this post I've included a list of links that can help you out with the science of the show.
V. How to Format Your Story
This is important, too. These rules exist so your reader can understand your story a little better. So
please keep them in mind as you write your fanfic.
When you're writing dialogue, you have to follow the rules of punctuation. When your character speaks,
enclose their sentences in apostrophes as so:
"Sara, come here," said Grissom. "I think I got a break in our case."
"Sara, come here," said Grissom. is considered a whole sentence. That's why a comma is used after
'come here', because the sentence continues until 'Grissom'. If you switch the format, the sentence ends
inside the apostrophes as so:
Grissom examined the evidence under his microscope's lens and smiled. He looked up and said, "Sara,
come here. I think I got a break in our case."
How many times have your read an entire story that took place in one single paragraph? How many
times did you roll your eyes? A lot, I bet. Formatting a story helps the reader jump from point of view to
point of view, from scene to scene, from character to character. It's very hard for us to understand your
story if everything is cluttered together. So follow this rule when you write a story.
Grissom walked into his office and threw his briefcase on his chair. Catherine appeared behind him and
watched him with a concerned look in her eyes. She knew he hadn't been sleeping well lately and she
worried about his health. Grissom felt someone behind him and turned around; a weak smile appeared
on his face when he saw Catherine there. Hello Catherine he said. How are you tonight. I'm fine Grissom
said Catherine. Did you get some sleep today? Just a little said Grissom. Catherine smiled and made a
mental note to drive him home in the morning so she could make sure he slept well.
Grissom walked into his office and threw his briefcase on his chair.
Catherine appeared behind him and watched him with a concerned look in her eyes. She knew he
hadn't been sleeping well lately and she worried about his health.
Grissom felt someone behind him and turned around; a weak smile appeared on his face when he saw
Catherine there. "Hello, Catherine," he said. "How are you tonight?"
"I'm fine Grissom," said Catherine. "Did you get some sleep today?"
"Just a little," said Grissom.
Catherine smiled and made a mental note to drive him home in the morning so she could make sure he
As you can see, a new paragraph is used not just to introduce a new speaker, but to jump from point of
view to point of view, as well. Usually, one space is left between the paragraphs. This will help your
readers identify the speaker.