How RP writing is different from Novel/Short Story Writing...

Discussion in 'Role-Play Discussion' started by odd, Nov 10, 2023.

  1. odd
    Moonlighting

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner

    I always find this such an interesting discussion, because writing the way we do is really so very different from the other types of creative writing!

    Feel free to share any pet peeves you have, or general thoughts!

    For me, my BIGGEST pet peeve is when people write a post and it's clearly "for them". By that I mean it's a ton of introspection that my character doesn't have access to and very little external anything such that when I go to reply, basically I have 5 paragraphs of "character stares broodily out of a window" to work with. I'm a sucker for introspection don't get me wrong, but I think it's important to remember that because our characters (usually) aren't omnipotent and because RPing is collaborative, you should keep your RP partner in mind when writing.
     
  2. Ooo a very good point. That's a bit of a pet peeve of mine too. I try to find a balance between dialogue and introspection but it can be difficult at times. One way I've tried to get around this is to be more descriptive about my character's facial expressions and body language. Which I think falls more towards literature than RP but I find it useful.

    Half the time I forget to do it though XD. It's a work in progress.
     
  3. odd
    Moonlighting

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner

    I think it's totally RP! That old chestnut about Showing vs. Telling.

    A piece of advice Honey has given me as well, is to remember that your characters were doing something before you popped in to view them, and they'll be doing things afterward. I find that's importantly different from novel writing as well, because we do tend to 'leave' our characters alone while we do our lives or write other characters, but that doesn't mean that they just stop existing.
     
    Blackbird likes this.
  4. Cirago
    Overworked

    Cirago Resident Patron

    I'm going to hop on the waffle train and say that it really depends on my mood when I'm reading a post XD

    Some days I just want to get to the 'meat' of the post and focus on the setting/dialogue/gestures - physical cues that my character ran react and respond to, like you say. Whether it's due to impatience or excitement in moving the thread along, trying to write through a bad mood, or just a general sense of being rushed that day, I'm in it for the 'visible' cues, and whatever is going on in another character's head doesn't impact my character's reactions.

    But some days I'm just feeling more chill, and I love seeing what makes other characters tick. Reading about why they're responding the way they are, digging into that good character development and exploration of what internally drives the dialogue they end up choosing. A lot of that depends on the tone of the thread and who I'm writing with, ngl, but there are definitely days I crave reading other characters' introspection.

    In the end, I'm making more of an effort to try and match my thread-partner's preference, and just trying to write in a variety of different tones/threads so whatever mood I'm in at the time, I can indulge myself :)
     
  5. I never thought about it like that! I might try to incorporate that more often.
     
  6. odd
    Moonlighting

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner

    Yeah it's definitely a good point and she's really good at it. I find it extremely hard to do well though xD
     
  7. Rayo
    Insomnious

    Rayo Newcomer

    These are such good points! I definitely get trapped in introspection sometimes, but I'm trying to do better with describing what my character is doing/having engaging dialogue/things like that.
     
  8. Honey
    Jammie

    Honey Newcomer

    Well I came in here to add my two cents but I'll slorp up all your compliments wherever I can find them <33

    Not necessarily a pet peeve of mine, but something interesting I've noticed in my own writing is how, with novels/short stories for example, you get to control both sides of a conversation. But in RP, you only get to play half of that dialogue, and it's one of the things I love most about it.

    In my storyteller's mind I might have already planned how I'd have a dialogue go, and then my RP partner can come out and completely change that dynamic, and it pulls the rug out from under me in a really good way.
     
    odd likes this.
  9. odd
    Moonlighting

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner

    Alternatively, sometimes in a BAD way.

    I know something for me that isn't necessarily a pet peeve but more of...idk, a hurdle when it comes to this sort of writing, is wanting to justify/explain when things aren't interpreted the way you want. There are misunderstandings IRL so it makes sense it can happen to our characters, but I know for me it really hits a nerve when something I write is taken in a way I don't mean (all the more so when it has negative consequences for my characters).
     
    Cirago likes this.
  10. Honey
    Jammie

    Honey Newcomer

    Ooh I never considered that, but you're absolutely right. I suppose the difference IRL is that at least you don't know when someone has interpreted something differently in such an insightful way. Reading an entire post where a character has just experienced a misunderstanding (complete with internal monologue, at times) is both tragically realistic and difficult to stomach.
     
  11. Chan

    Chan Newcomer

    For me, I need the introspection to track what my characters do and why, because I'm very easily influenced by mood (and also very much a people pleaser). If I don't check the motivations and how this or that action actually makes the char feel, I'll end up with a shapeless blob of Mary Sue who changes shape with every new encounter.

    But I also try to leave enough for others to work with, because I know how frustrating it can be.
     
    Cirago likes this.
  12. Cirago
    Overworked

    Cirago Resident Patron

    Reading a misunderstanding in how another character (mis)interprets what your character meant can be a real emotional gut punch when it goes south, for sure. Sometimes characters can roll with it and sometimes it can sour a whole relationship with one bad thread, which can really suck. Just like it does IRL ^^; for... well, mostly for worse, not better. Sometimes art imitates life a little too closely!

    I get what Chan is saying, too! That's a great way to put into words my own reasons for writing introspection in my posts. Some of my characters are very stubborn and have strong personalities/opinions, and so I find myself not needing as much introspection to explore their motivations in a given post or thread, but others are meant to be more 'likeable' and those are the ones I struggle to keep on track when my own mood fluctuates while writing, or when I see other characters reacting unfavorably towards them.

    When writing stories/lit I tend to write down a lot of introspection in the first draft to help me wrap my head around the whys and wherefors of the characters' actions and choice of dialogue, but then edit out a chunk of it in later drafts after I've figured out what's driving the character in that scene. A lot of it can usually be cut down to visual cues and brief references to previous information in earlier chapters - or else copied forward to use as foreshadowing for future revelations on a character's motivations. And there's time to do that; to have a character act in a particular way, knowing that eventually the reason for it will be revealed in a later chapter and the reader will get to learn it then. There's also a lot less of an emotional aspect to the writing, since I'm in control of how the other characters respond and any misunderstandings are deliberately scripted in, so there are no surprises, unpleasant or otherwise, to shake the emotional boat.

    But in RP writing it's a lot harder to cut those things out. You might be threading with a character and/or player who's just meeting your character for the first time and doesn't know all the little callbacks and references, so there's an urge to explain things in introspection, especially if your character is acting unfavorably towards theirs and you want to try and reassure the other player that it's not personal - there's a reason your character is acting the way they are. And there's no guarantee that your two characters will thread again, so you might plan to slow-burn reveal motivations eventually in future threads, but then with the flow of how RP goes it never actually happens (been burned by THAT way too many times). Plus, as fast as things can move on an RP site - and if you like to have lots of threads going at once - I find that I don't really do 'drafts' of RP posts except in very rare and specific circumstances (usually with a lot of heavy emotional weight/potential for character-arc-changing consequences). It's write-fast-post-fast-onto-the-next, whether that's on to replying to a different thread, or speed-posting with your current partner for the sheer joy of it and excitement to see where the thread is taking you. So I lose a lot of that editing that I agonize over in my short story writing.
     
    odd likes this.
  13. In my experience, the biggest difference (and it sounds like a no-brainer, but it's shocking how often it's just not) is that you have to consider the needs of everyone in the scenes. I've had to explain to players before that the thing that happens in movies where one of the characters is kind of a jerk and says mean things, but they're included anyway and eventually people see through the gruff exterior is so hard to pull off in RP because then one party in that scenario is signing up to be the one who takes abuse until they get through to the person, and that's not always fun!
     
  14. kraken

    kraken Newcomer

    "By that I mean it's a ton of introspection that my character doesn't have access to and very little external anything such that when I go to reply, basically I have 5 paragraphs of "character stares broodily out of a window" to work with. I'm a sucker for introspection don't get me wrong, but I think it's important to remember that because our characters (usually) aren't omnipotent and because RPing is collaborative, you should keep your RP partner in mind when writing."
    I used to think about this a lot - and hated "navel-gazing" posts. But I'm less inclined to hate them these days - honestly, I love learning little details about their character. If introspection is done well, you can really learn a lot about characters thought patterns, fears; a lot of characterisation goes into the introspective moments of a reply, so if you enjoy reading the responses you get you can really get a lot of richness out of these types of replies.

    That said, I don't think it's always done well. I'm a fan of a shorter post these days too, and I wonder whether back in the day the common trend was to bulk posts out with introspection just to hit a required word count. As well, like you said, our characters don't know everything, and it's meta knowledge to make assumptions yourself.

    In that regard I do treat roleplaying a lot like any other style of writing these days - we're all writing from a limited character perspective, and keeping that in mind can add a lot of value and fun to a thread. Just because you know something doesn't mean your character would! I also keep in mind pacing when I'm roleplaying, just as I would with novel writing. This is another thing that makes me lean more towards shorter posts in general.
     
  15. odd
    Moonlighting

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner



    This is a point I really struggle with. I knowthe times I lean more heavily on introspection is when I'm "telling" instead of showing. Sometimes that's fine, especially if what you're describing is tangential or just nice history, but I know recently with some things I've read, so much is put into the narration and so little into the actual writing, that although someone has written an entire post of "being so mad", all they've in fact done is stand there. That's when I struggle because I know that's what they want me to react to, but as you said, there's often not a total overlap between what I know and what my characters do. ​
     
  16. odd
    Moonlighting

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner

    10000000000000% You almost need OOC consent to write certain types of characters just so that everyone is on board with with the arc is, or else it can lead to writing that feels unfair or just isn't fun. We have something on our site called the Trope Pass and it basically lets you make that sort of character that requires a certain kind of buy in from others in order to get up and running. It's a rare thing, because it's not fun when there are too many, but when it's done well, it can be great!
     
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