If you are new to SimLit
and this part of the Sims Forums, you might have a lot of questions. What is SimLit? How do I do it? While there are no clear right and wrongs on SimLit, this guide tries to explain a bit of the adventure to you and give you a few opinions on popular questions. Just remember that these are by no means „rules“ that you must adhere to. This guide merely offers a few opinions and explanations
. In the end, it's all your choice. You can do whatever you want with your SimLit and no one will call you out on it. Also note that this is a guide to the concept of SimLit, not for creative writing
. I hope that you will find this guide helpful and that you will share your SimLit story with us soon!
Topics covered in this guide are the following:
Tips for Wordpress users
Useful and interesting threads
The questions discussed in this post (and the next) are the following:
1) What is SimLit?
2) How do I post stories?
3) How do I post pictures on this forum?
4) Which blog should I use?
5) Do I write first and then screenshot or the other way around?
6) How do I get the perfect screenshots for plot-driven SimLit?
7) How long should my posts be?
8) How many chapters should my story have?
9) How often should I update?
10) How do I stay motivated?
11) How do I edit my screenshots?
12) How do I make a signature/banner?
13) How do I best advertise/promote my story?
What is SimLit?
SimLit is an abbreviation for Sims Literature, meaning written stories about your sims! SimLit usually includes your creative writing as well as screenshots of your sims. Many sims stories are based on challenges for The Sims, which challenge you to change your style of gameplay. But there are a lot of stories which are not based on challenges as well! If you need a few examples just browse the threads in this forum, you'll find plenty! Or check out @mastressalita
's Story Index
for an (alsmost) exhaustive and expertly maintained list of Sims Stories. SimLit comes in many different forms and can be posted in various ways. For more on that, check out the questions below.
How do I post stories?
There's no right or wrong way to post stories, but usually it's done in one of two ways. You can decide for yourself which one you prefer.
How do I post pictures on this forum?
- Post your story directly to the forums. Create a new thread in either this forum or the general „Stories and Legacies“ section and post your writing and screenshots in that thread. Forum posted stories have the advantage that readers don't have to take another step (clicking a link etc.) to read your story and it's easier for people who aren't comfortable with setting up a blog. A disadvantage of forum-posted stories is that once you get more comments and pages, finding your story updates can be tedious for new readers as they will have to do a lot of scrolling. Also, if you have multiple updates with a lot of pictures on one page, it will take some time to load before a reader can check out your new update. You will also need to be a full member to post forum stories with pictures (See below on how to post pictures).
- Post your story on a blog and link to it on the forums (see below on which blog to use). People who post their stories on blogs usually also create a forum thread and post links to their blog updates to keep readers informed. An advantage of having a blog is that you can easily set up a table of contents and link from one chapter to the next, which makes it easier for new readers to overview and read your story. Another advantage is, that you don't have to be a full member on this forum to post your blog updates. Simply remove the „.“ from a link and you can post it, even as a new member. A disadvantage is that readers will have to take another step (=click a link) to access your story updates.
To post pictures on this forum you must be a full member. Check out this thread
for information on how to become a full member. If you are a full member, you have to upload your pictures on an external image hosting site (e.g. Imgur.com, tinypic.com, photobucket.com, etc.) and copy the IMG-link to your post, which is a link to the picture surrounded by IMG-tags (you must copy the IMG-Tags also). On most image hosting site it will say something like "BBcode for forums and bulletin boards" above this link. It will look like this (without the *)
[*IMG]YOUR PICTURE LINK HERE[/IMG]
Which blog should I use?
There isn't a rule on which blogging site you should use if you want to create a blog for your sims stories. However, there are a few popular options which are presented here. Most blogs are easy to set up but you can also find many tutorials on the internet if you're not as tech savvy.
"I use wordpress because it's probably the most popular blogging site on this forum. I can follow other people's wordpress blogs for updates and easily comment on other wordpress blogs, all with one account. Updates from blogs I follow come directly to my Wordpress reader so I never miss any chapters! Wordpress has various „plans“, which range from a free blog to a paid yearly subscription. You can also upload pictures to wordpress (like an image hoster) if you wish so, but I never use that because the space on the free version is limited. I use other image hosters instead. For normal writing means, the free plan is more than enough. You can choose from a lot of free themes and you can easily customize them. You can schedule posts to post at a certain time if you're on holiday or something like that. I love that, too! Also, I love the country stats page, showing what countries your readers are from. It's so intriguing!"
(See post below on how to include externally hosted images into wordpress blog posts)
Another free blog website
"I use Weebly because when I was starting to write Simlit I knew I wanted to branch off into other stories and even make some Sims available for download so I needed something where I could have different pages and I am ALL about customization! So when I figured out you basically could do any sort of customization you wanted I was sold. Making a website layout is so easy to understand and it's drag and drop based.You basically have all your options on the left side of the screen and then you just drag and drop whatever you like on to your screen!"
Also free, and more in the style of a blog than a website with usually short posts.
"My reasons for choosing Tumblr were the community and design.
The people I have encountered through the Sims Tumblr Community, also known as the Simblr community, have been so kind and inspiring. Typically if I have an issue or need help there are a few people I know I can message personally or just post on my blog to get assistance.
The biggest and probably the more determining factor was design. Tumblr is said to be a site for micro blogging and I really never understood what that term meant until I made the switch. Designing my blog just the way I wanted to on Tumblr affords me endless options. I often change up the look of it occasionally to fit a holiday or the theme of my site. I have options for music, and I can even change the cursor that you see. (Which I still think is pretty darn cool) The formatting allows me to really make it my own, so that when people come to my blog they really get a sense of my style and my stories."
This is another free site for creating a blog.
"I chose [Blogspot] for various reasons. Firstly I started blogging long before I started blogging for Sims, and blogger (as it was known then) seemed the best option. And I haven't been disappointed. It is google based which means it ties in with my email accounts, Google connect etc. Which also means that any blogger blogs I follow come up on my reader too!
It uses Picasa for hosting the photos on the blogs which means ample storage space - great for my now picture heavy Sims tales.
The sites are fully customizable and it can be as easy or as complicated as you want. It has great pre-loaded looks that can all be customised (colours, fonts, sizes, spacing) as you wish through and easy interface. Or you can get more into it with direct access to it's coding. There are also loads of sites offering free downloads of designs. Adding and removing of widgets is a simple drag and drop affair.
It has the option of static pages or blog posts. Easy scheduling and labelling. You can have multiple people signed on to put up posts/admin etc good for collaborations. And there is basic page and individual post stats for those who are interested in their traffic."
While all of these blogs offer options to schedule your post to come out at a given date and time, Tumblr also has another interesting feature, @MDianaSanders
"Tumblr allows you to both queue and schedule. When you schedule, you set the date and time you want a post to come out. With the queue, you add posts to the queue and it will automatically release the next post in x hours.
For example, my current settings are 2 post a day between 12am and 12am, which means it post one at 8am and one at 4 pm in my timezone. If you want it to release at a different time, you have to either increase or decrease the release frequency. It's a sort of auto-scheduler so to speak, you skip the step of actually scheduling because that's done for you."
Do I write first and then screenshot or the other way around?
This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to SimLit. Writing first and then screenshotting to match the writing is often referred to as "Story-Driven" or "Plot-Driven" SimLit
, because the Sims are there to illustrate your story/plot (of course you can also take the screenshots first even if you have a particular plot in mind. This is just an explanation but not the one and only one). The other way around, observing your sims and then writing about the screenshots is often called"Game-Driven" or „Sim-Driven" SimLit
. There is the approach of 100% Game-Driven SimLit, which means writing in observer/documentary style. There is also a middle ground between game-driven and plot-driven: Observe your Sims and spin a plot around their actions. Approaches are not mutually exclusive and you can combine them
however you like. All of them are equally legit and fun!
on Plot-Driven SimLit
"Plot-driven SimLit is when you, the player, control the plot/story, and use your sims as "actors" to illustrate the scenes that you want. One way to describe it is that with game-driven SimLit, you (the author) are telling your sims' story. In plot-driven SimLit, the sims are telling YOUR story.
This is my preferred method of SimLit because I have always considered myself as as a writer first and a simmer second. I come up with complicated and drama-filled plotlines that simply cannot happen on their own within the game, so I manipulate/control my sims' actions for each screenshot to match the story that's in my head. The process can be difficult and frustrating, but I feel the end result is worth it."
on Combining Game and Plot-Driven SimLit
„As far as approaches go, I would say my writing is 80% sim-driven, meaning that for the most part, I let my sims determine their own story and only interjetct occassionally. I tend to just observe what happens in game and then find the meaning behind it. You'd be surprised what interesting stories can come out of that approach.
Writers may fear that the sim-driven approach leads to boring, plotless stories. But that hasn't been my experience. Some of the most dramatic parts in my story were entirely my sism doing. While some try to inject drama into their stories, I feel like I'm running around my sims like a panicked mama hen telling them to tone it down because my readers can't endure so many dramatic chapters in a row."
on Game-Driven SimLit
"One of my stories is a neighbourhood rotation which is 100% Sim-Driven. I observe my sims, their autonomous actions, their speech bubbles, their relationships and only occasionally interfer. Then I write about it. I often tend to highlight the more riddiculous moments and actions of my sims. I also use this approach to explore the game to the fullest and share new experiences with my readers, e.g. my first trip to granite falls or my first Get To Work business. And believe me – it does not get boring. In fact it's loads of fun watching what my sims get up to!"
How do I get the perfect screenshots for plot-driven SimLit?
If you write the plot and use your sims to illustrate it, you will want the perfect screenshots to show what you're writing about. One of the experts on this topic is @CitizenErased14
and she says:
"There are two tools that I recommend for setting up your perfect screenshot. The first is the which, among many other things, allows you to directly manipulate your sims' emotions with one click, versus having to type out long cheat-commands. This will allow you to get the right facial expressions and idling animations for whatever feeling you need your character to convey.
The second is the . This allows you to make your sim perform any in-game animation (including idling ones!) at your will. All you need to do is install the mod and download the list of animations. Then, use the search feature (control+F, if you're on a PC) within the pose document to find whatever pose you're looking for, and copy and paste its name into the pose player. The only poses that do not work are seated ones. Otherwise, this mod is an incredibly useful tool for setting up the perfect shot!"
(Also check out
where she talks about how to set up screenshots and use the pose player and
about advanced screenshotting tips)
(Also check out
from the offical sims blog that collects a few tips on screenshotting)
Note: The Advanced Debug Cheat Mod works for games in English language only.
How long should my posts be?
Again, this is something that you must decide for yourself. Choose a length which feels comfortable to you. You shouldn't stress yourself to meet a certain wordcount but also don't feel the need to restrain yourself if you are on a creative roll. Your writing will reflect it! If you want a more detailed opinion on chapter length,
„The popular answer to this questions is: post can be of various lenght and whatever feels right to you is fine. Which is, of course, very true and I fully support it. But I think unexperienced writers sometimes don't 'feel' when it's time to end the chapter, so that advice can be a little tricky (it would be for me, at least.)
So are are a few ideas of mine:
I think that, especially in the beginning, it's better to have shorter chapters to 'lure' readers. Speaking of my experience as a SimLit reader and a very busy person, I prefer shorter chapters with more screenshots, simply because I don't have enough time to read through long texts - so I sometimes abandon a great story because of it. However, once the story unfolds and reader are interested in the plot and your characters, you can get to longer, wordy chapters.
So in my opinion, 800-1500 words is optimal for me as a reader. It's possible, though, that this only works for legacies and other game-driven stories. But I also think no one should hold back - if you have a lot to say, say it! I mean, if you have a super-interesting backstory for your founder ready or a dramatic introduction or a unique approach/character, it can be even 5000+ words and people would still get hooked, I believe.“
"Posts could either be as long as a single scene, or a series of smaller scenes that create an arc or chapter so it's hard to say. That being said, I usually aim for 1500-2000 words for longer story driven works. If I'm writing more off the cuff and conversational then I aim for 1000. I've seen and enjoyed longer works, but I find I often have a natural post "end" at those points."
"Posts should be as many words as it takes to say what you need to say whether it is 50 words or 2000! I don't believe in limiting one's self or having quotas. I've had chapters with less than 100 words and chapters with 3000 or more words. I try not to have too many long posts as I know a lot of people including myself can't handle the long ones. But some people love the long ones. I never had a long chapter for the sake of it being long. There's always action going on or some heavy drama. I bet most times people don't even realize the chapter was that long--I hope lol."
"I honestly don't think length matters, it's how you're moving the plot forward or pace that matters. If you're too wordy and not saying much or not much happened for a lot of words, the pace is too slow and you'll lose readers."
How many chapters should my story have?
"However many it takes to tell your story. Never should you limit yourself to only a certain amount of chapters or words unless its a writing challenge you took on to test yourself. If you feel in 20 chapters you were able to tell your story to the fullest of your ability, then congratulations! You finished a story, a generation, or entire legacy and that something to be proud of! Writing is a boundless hobby, so don't create any for the sake of what you think is right."
"This depends on what kind of story you write.
For legacies (and possibly for neighborhood rotations, too) there's no limit - just write as many chapters as you need to get through it. It's infinite. For other stories, again - I prefer less. Sometimes, when I see a non-legacy serious story with hundred of chapters, I feel intimidated and it looks like so much work to me, that I decide not to read it at all. (I'm a terrible lazy person, I'm sorry. I know I'm missing out.) On the other hand, the second I fall in love with the writing, I just want more, more, more of it. So it's really hard to tell.
But again, while shorter stories can be slightly more attractive even after they are finished (this is again based solely on my personal preference - shorter stories are easier to read through in one or two sessions and my prefered reading style is to read it all at once), I believe that no one should be holding back with the creative process. If your story simply asks for more chapters, if it grew bigger and more complicated with time, if you feel the need to explore certain themes and characters - I would say, go for it!"
How often should I update?
This again, is of course a matter of taste. Some people update daily, some weekly and some on more irregular schedules. The general guideline is to update whenever you feel comfortable. Don't pressure yourself, your readers will understand whatever approach you choose. If having an update schedule (fixed days of the week when you update) helps motivating you, you should give it a try, but always consider this:
"Making an update schedule is difficult and sticking to it is even more so. Though it is important to keep in mind that readers appreciate having a regular schedule that they can count on, as the writer, you need to do what best fits your schedule. If you miss an update or two, it’s okay. Your readers will understand. They will even understand if you go on hiatus for a while – they all have real lives too.
However, if you really want to keep up with a schedule, you should take into consideration your real life needs and the needs of your story. You don’t want to set a pace that you can’t keep up with; readers love daily updates, but those aren’t always feasible for the writer. For my main story, the Thoreau Legacy, I like to update three to four times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and an option for Sunday). But sometimes if I can get ahead or want to keep a particular plot arc together, I will move to daily updates for a week before returning to my regular schedule. I have another story that posts twice a week and a third that posts just once a week; that lets me keep my focus on the legacy and my real life responsibilities.
Above all, do what best suits you."
"I prefer posts weekly when reading. More than that and I stuggle to keep up with my busy life. Less than that and I forget to check back in. If do prefer a schedule when possible, or at least a place I know I can go to see when updates occur if it's irregular."