Tips To Help You Write Better Roleplay Posts
Looking to polish your posting style a little? Not quite sure what your posts need or don't need? Here are some easy tips to help out with that!
Table of Contents
- It's not the length that matters so much as the (relevant) information.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your hypothetical responder.
- Don't be repetitive.
- And a few more tips!
- In summary!
It's not the length that matters so much as the (relevant) information.
Long inner monologues of your character's thoughts don't do other players any good, unless their characters are mind-readers. Likewise, long paragraphs where you describe your character doing things no other player character would see (such as describing everything that happened to your character before getting to where other people's characters are in explicit detail) aren't very useful, either.
It's not necessarily bad to include some details along these lines, but since it's stuff that players can't work with, try to keep the time spent on them minimized. Instead, focus on describing things that their own characters would observe and experience. Stop and visualize the scene your characters are in for a moment. What kind of place are they in? Is there anything outstanding that the other person's character would see, feel, hear, or smell? How might your character's mood translate into facial expression, body language, or tone of voice? This is stuff worth mentioning.
Also, stop and ask yourself: Is there anything that other people's characters might know about the situation and/or your character that their players might not be aware of? If so, you should describe that as well.
If you're otherwise not sure what might be or might not be important, run anything you're considering mentioning through a "so what?" test. Did your character argue with Mom or the boss this morning? So what? Is your character descended from some famous historical so-and-so? So what? If the answer to the question isn't something that will actually be relevant to someone else's character within the next few posts, you don't need to detail it right now.
Basically - minimize describing the things that other people's characters wouldn't have any way to know about or observe/experience for themselves. Instead, focus your effort on the stuff that they would know about and probably notice.
Put yourself in the shoes of your hypothetical responder.
Unless there's something else going on in the story that you can be sure will prompt other characters to respond or act in a way that progresses the plot, you need to make sure your posts are the kind that invite these kinds of responses. When you plan and write out your post, stop and imagine yourself as someone trying to respond to it. Can you think of a few different ways you might respond that would move the plot or conversation forward? If not, odds are good that other people will have trouble, too. See if you can rewrite it so that it's easier to respond to.
When you plan and write out your post, stop and ask yourself: If you were the one responding to it, how might you do it? Could you make a response that moved the plot/conversation forward, or would you character be able to do or say very little without more from the other player first?
Another thing to ask yourself is, would the response you're hoping for be completely counterproductive or counterintuitive for the other person's character, all things considered? For example, a character on a time-sensitive mission probably isn't going to feel motivated to pick up some random straggler to take along, even if said straggler is attractive or in obvious need of care. (That's what hospitals and shelters are for.)
Don't be repetitive.
You don't want to mention the same details over and over in rapid succession - once people get it, they get it, and they don't need to be constantly reminded of it. This applies even if nobody else seems to be noticing some detail you think should grab and hold people's attention - odds are, they did notice, but their characters just don't care for some reason. (For example, there's no reason for a character who has seen all kinds of people with technicolor eyes to react to some random stranger with technicolor eyes, unless the character has a specific reason to be looking out for this kind of thing.) Plus, repeating details over and over can make you look a bit desperate or self-absorbed, which can potentially put people off you and your character.
And no, repeating details to pad your post length is not a good reason. Repeating details just to increase your word count is poor writing, period. The quality of a post should not be measured simply by its length, but by how much useful and relevant information contains and whether someone else can respond to it.
And a few more tips!
- It's not the end of the world if you make typos in your posts now and then (and hey, the occasional typo in a post is inevitable), but do make an effort to spellcheck or proofread them. Typos do make it harder for people to read and understand your posts, so try to minimize them.
- Use paragraph breaks! Textwalls make reading harder and can make a post seem too daunting to read through. See How To Use Paragraph Breaks Properly for more information. (Also - some chat services that submit your posts if you press Enter may allow you to create a line break if you press Shift+Enter.)
- If you want to convey or imply information about your character that might not be strictly relevant to the situation, you can have your character wear, do, or say little things that hint toward it. Check out Dropping In Characterization Without Dragging The Story for more information.
- Focus on describing details that would be noticeable and relevant to other people's characters; minimize those that aren't.
- Make your posts easy to respond to. If you're unsure, put yourself into the shoes of someone who might respond to it and ask yourself whether you could easily write a reply.
- Don't be repetitive - don't describe the same details or facts over and over. If other people's characters don't notice, it
- Use proper paragraph breaks and fix your typos.
- If there's information you'd like people to perhaps know but isn't especially relevant, use subtle techniques to show it, rather than tell it outright.
Also, these might be relevant to you:
General Roleplaying Tips & Advice
Reasons Your RP Characters Might Be Bad Friends Or Love Interests
Common Game-Ruining Mistakes Roleplayers Make
Common Problems In Roleplaying Characters
The RP Character Playability Test
Describing Your Character: Tips & Advice
So You Want To Have An Attractive Character?
Writing Better Prompts, Starters, & Beginnings: A Few Pointers
Tips To Write Better Roleplay Prompts
7 Very Versatile RP Prompt Ideas