Roleplay Tips: General & Genre-Specific Jan 3, 2017 17:00:04 GMT Vi-Poi, Mayze, and 8 more like this
Post by Zucceta on Jan 3, 2017 17:00:04 GMT
therevolution's Roleplay Guide 2.0: Electric Boogaloo
In the past, I wrote a brief guide giving tips on how to write well for a literary RP site. It was written some time ago, and I've matured both as a young writer and as a forum-runner, so I wanted to give the guide another go, as well as condense other guides you might see around the site. I'd be the first to criticise my own writing, but I believe I've picked up enough over the years to offer up some insights--especially given that my younger self did so five or six years ago.
I'm going to try to avoid going into specific craft elements, such as sentence structures and grammar, as well as the basics such as spell-checking, capital letters and punctuation. I'm going to instead focus on specific elements that I believe are important to successful post-by-post roleplay, and that could also inform your wider writing in some scenarios. Something important to remember, however, is the character RP forum requires a subtly different form than that of a single-authored story, regardless of length.
General Roleplay Tips
--Character. The single most important element to a post-by-post roleplay is your character. A large amount of my previous guide focused on character, and this one probably will, too.
- Build Strong Characters.
However, that DOES NOT mean you should start roleplaying without a personality in mind for your character. That would, and has been, disasterous for both your character, your enjoyment of the roleplay itself, and the characters/roleplayers you interact with.
Your character's personality should be well-rounded, and make sense given their history. Why is your character heroic, or villainous, or ever-cheerful, or short-tempered? They should have quirks, and core beliefs, that are informed by their past. There will be events in their past, such as their upbringings or childhoods, that inform their worldview. I will talk more about worldview in the genre-specific tips, but it is a core element of Dragon Ball--and almost every other fiction ever written.
Your character should have a set personality, and a goal, which (when you start) could be broad to encompass the changes your character will (well, should) undergo through interacting with others. Or, it could be consistent, but gain additional layers: Son Goku always sought to be the best at martial arts and self-discipline, but he gained additional sub-goals as the series progressed, such as defending the Earth and helping his friends.
Don't be afraid to be influenced by other characters you like, but, at the same time, try to think of ways to distinguish them in meaningful ways, such as the core reasoning behind their personalities, the reasons why they do the things they do. Your saiyan won't have an identical upbringing to Prince Vegeta, but he might still be similarly prideful-- ask yourself why, and keep asking why until your shovel strikes the nugget of truth. Always try to justify your character's personality, otherwise they become cliched.
Only when you've come up with a core character personality, and the history to justify those characteristics, should you submit your character application.
[li]Let Your Character Change.[/li] Your character should begin to interact with a host of different characters, with different worldviews. How they interact should change everyone, on minor or major levels--not immediately, maybe not noticeably. Think of your characters as people, and not just as people but people constantly subjected to extra-ordinary events. Change is not only inevitable but necessary. To have a personality remain constant subjection to other worldviews and extra-ordinary events is not only bad-writing but, ironically, unrealistic. As my past self wrote, "remembering the motivation is essential," but your character will grow and change the longer they interact with other characters.
A villain might grow compassionate due to their interactions with merciful heroes. A heroic figure might fall due to tragedy. These are two obvious, classic examples, and large changes. Small changes matter equally to strong RP writing.
[li]Don't Try To Be The Roleplay's Sole 'Protagonist'.[/li] A common problem I have noticed is that people often act as if their character is the centre of the roleplay universe. Its an issue I've noticed especially in people coming in with writing experience in the short story or novel forms, in which you often solely follow one character's perspective. While you follow your own character, you have to recognise that they aren't always the centre of attention. This desire to be the hero of everyone's story is hard to achieve on a forum filled with extra-ordinary figures, and so often these writers try to make their characters even more extra-ordinary. We are moving into the 'uncanny valley' territory of the Mary Sue/Gary Stu, which works even less well on a play-by-post multiple-author narrative than it does in a single-author story. The character, ironically, becomes bland due to its master-of-all-trades nature.
Share the lime-light, and focus on what makes your character unique and interesting. You'll do a much better job of your character being 'relevant', if that is a concern of yours. My younger self nailed this, in my opinion: "Remember, there are no winners or losers in a roleplaying game. This is muddied slightly by the existence of 'power level' on this site, but that doesn't mean your character has any less relevance or weight."
[li]Stay In Character.[/li] This can sometimes be harder than it sounds. A scenario comes up, and you think it'll be 'interesting' for your character to respond in a way different to how others expect them to. However, unless you can explicitly justify his or her actions, don't--you destroy your 'role'. Don't over-think how your character will act: if you've designed them to have a strong voice, as my first and most important point suggests, then their natural actions should be clear to you. Your character should change over the course of their time, but try to avoid 'epiphanies' if you can. They sometimes work in single-author fiction, but for RP, its sloppy.
[li]Power- and Meta-Gaming & God-Modding.[/li] The two latter points can manifest as this triumvirate of terror. Power-gaming is 'the aim of maximising progress towards a specific goal, to the exclusion of other considerations such as storytelling, atmosphere and camaraderie'--on site, this manifests as grinding towards PL or zeni statistics. Meta-gaming is 'an "out of character" action where a player's character makes use of knowledge that the player is aware of but that the character is not meant to be aware of'. 'God Modding is when someone’s character has the ability to do anything without limits or boundaries. It can be killing or injuring a character without the other player's express permission, it can be when they simply can’t be hit and dodge all attacks or anything for this matter aimed at them, and it can also be using other characters that other people RP with'.
All three manifest due to the desire for your character to 'compete' with others rather than play. All specifically weaken your character, and all are also specifically against the rules of this forum and will land you warnings.
--Planning. It is hard to be a successful writer without a planned structure for your prose; it is possible to respond to play-by-post RP forums without planning. However, it is always considerably better if you do, in fact, plan out your solo threads or even your responses.
One of our ex-members, Milac, wrote a tip post explaining his method of outlining. At the time of writing, you can find it pinned in the General Board. He planned his solo threads by breaking down the overall "plot" into a set number of chapters, and broke those chapters down into bite-size acts. Description-action-explanation should play into all of these acts.
Planning is especially important for solo posts, however, where you aren't going to be responding to other roleplayers content. Completely self-generated, you need to make sure the solo post stays setting-appropriate and also that it is fun to read. You may want it to have some influence on your character's arc, so you should probably design NPC characters with some level of complexity with the intention of acting as a counter to your primary PC. Alternatively, you can structure the thread that an external challenge might cause some challenge to your character's interior worldview.
- Word choice.