How to Write Tags

We are working on developing a system of tags that allow people to browse for the types of topics/structures/etc they like, as tags are the main discovery surfaces for Writing Atlas.

Here is our “formal” system of tags in development to give you a sense of our thinking for the ones that will span multiple stories. This is worth taking a few minutes to browse.

We’ve given you three text fields to put your tags. These text fields are called Characters, Setting, and Tags Manual. These three columns are adjacent to each other in Airtable.

  1. Characters: who the protagonist is and other notable characters (~3-6 tags)
  2. Setting: time and place (~2-3 tags)
  3. Tags Manual: what the thrust of the subject matter is, what kind of ending it is, mood (~3-6 tags: these do not include characters or setting)

Note: these are RAW text fields. We will clean them up later. Try to aim for at least 3 tags per category. More is better.

For example, you might scan a story and create tags such as the following for those categories (and more!). Try to imagine what tags would be useful to help someone understand if this story is for them.

Do not worry about being so precise about the tag language taxonomy. Through the miracle of modern computing, we can build “clusters” of related topics as long as you write in “natural language” (e.g. human language). For example, computers know that “drugs”, “addiction” and “alcoholism” are all related, so just pick the most narrow word and we can group them.

Tags are the trickiest, and we are still mastering the art, which is why we need a lot of examples to see how the browsing feels and then iterate to do better.  So stay with us.

Both very general and very specific tags are good. Again some examples:




Come up with unusual tags that would make someone want to read the story, or at least click through. Some of the ones we found intriguing:

Other manual tag ideas:


Add a few phrases that finish the sentence “Read if you like”.

These can be fairly descriptive. So anything like:

Try to have at least 5-6, and the more the better.

You can separate the tags by commas or semicolons ⇐ either works since the computer pulls both. Don't use any commas unless they are in between your “read if you like” tags or the tag will be broken up into two.