|blackline_mod (blackline_mod) wrote in rp_tutorials,|
@ 2009-04-11 20:15:00
|Entry tags:||resources: general|
Writing good posts, the why and hows
I have heard more and more increasingly, complaints from players and mods alike about the decrease in both quality and length in posts in role play games. Now, RP is supposed to be a game, it is supposed to be fun, but let's face it, we all take this stuff pretty seriously. We expect quality and originality from communities, we expect mods to care about the games and do their jobs. Likewise, we should expect ourselves and other players to upkeep a certain standard, a level of quality within the communities we love so dearly.
An example of this, try and read a movie script, then watch the movie. It is the same story, however the script is written with bare minimal directions. It is flat, dull, and while the story may be interesting, reading it is not. Then, watch the movie. It is a completed work of art, with characters showing emotions, music setting the mood, dramatic lighting, the whole nine yards. If you write your scenes like a movie script, then yes, you may well get through the scene faster, but it will be dull, flat and uninteresting. Take the time to be the director of your scene. Take the bare minimums and add in the emotions, the lighting, the thoughts, the hidden drives behind the characters, turn on the music and the dramatic lighting and watch your scenes come to life.
The second danger of these short "movie script" posts is that it will bore not just the players involved, but potential players. There is nothing worse than getting excited about a community's premise only to open the main community page to find short, bland, uninteresting posts. This results in a very slow and painful death, where the community tries to continue but with uninspiring posts and no new people to bring in new ideas and plots, the game slowly collapses in on itself. Generally mods struggle to save these games with resets or time skips, but in the end the same problem arises, players are bored and continue write bottom-line posts and this averts new players from joining the game.
So how do we avoid this? We demand better posts. This is not only a mod's job, this should be the consideration of every player. Demand that you and your friends post quality writing and the mods will not have to constantly call people out. If you see someone constantly posting sub-par writing, talk to them out on it, as gently as is possible. Try and ask them, for example, if they are having a difficult time IRL, as sometimes good writers will falter when their life is overly dramatic or they are exceptionally tired.
The key to posting quality, descriptive, interesting posts is to know your character. This is vital and can be the difference between a post ending at two lines instead of two paragraphs. You need to not only know the big picture of the character, but also the details. How does your character react under pressure? The big picture is if they show determination and work to fix the problem head-on or if they buck responsibility and get drunk to avoid the issue. Most writers can produce this kind of information, which is the basic foundations for a character, but what makes the character come alive in a scene is all the little details.
Does your character boldly make eye contact and stare through a person until they make the other uncomfortable? Do they fidget and avoid eye contact? Do they like the personal space and inch progressively away from someone during a conversation, or are they the touchy-feely type who leans on, pinches and pokes their friends while chatting? What quirks do they have? Some characters will bite their lip, mess with their hair, blink a lot when lying, fidget with a favorite piece of jewelry or prompt, like a purse or car keys. Sit down and think about the small things your character does when happy, nervous, shy or angry. These may evolve, change or alter as the character grows and expands and as you come to know the character better. Be aware of their mood and their behaviors and be sure to include these little details in your scenes whenever possible.
Some characters are stone-wallers, they put up a wall and offer few clues to their thoughts and feelings. Characters such as these are more challenging to write, as no one wants to write or read "he did not show any real emotion" over and over again. In situations such as this, it is often wise to take the time to type out what the character is thinking or feeling even if they are not showing it, otherwise the character can come across as flat, overly distant or uninteresting. Interacting with these characters can be challenging enough, so toss the person you are playing with a bone and let them in on the character's thoughts. A good player will be able to recognize and separate what they know verses what their character will know and abide by that line. If not, you are perfectly within your rights to, politely, point out that the statement was made OOC, so the character should not be able to comment on or react to it.
My closing thoughts: Every writer falls short on a post or two every so often. Real life, stress, frustration with a character or a scene or being overly tired sometimes results in posts being cut a bit short or being uninspired. This is not a terrible crime and should not be attacked so long as they are clearly trying to put effort into the scene. If it becomes a consistent occurrence, that is the time to comment on the situation. Challenge yourself and your writing partners to post at least two paragraphs, at least three sentences per paragraph, for every post. Remember that every time you post in a thread or a reply, you are representing your community, would you want to join a community with threads like the one you are writing? Writing is an art and it is far too easy to fall into a lazy habit, especially if those surrounding you are in the same rut. Push yourself on every post, encourage your friends to help expand the scene and watch your posts grow in length and in detail. I promise that it will not only revitalize your characters and story lines, but it will make your community as a whole more attractive.
Thanks for reading!