How To Roleplay: Style!
Authors Note: This is not a guide for those who know nothing of the basics
of roleplaying, but for those who would like to improve. If you find yourself
not understanding any terms I have footnotes to further illustrate their meaning.
The roleplays I use as examples are only portions of roleplays I use, they are
not full introductions.
I have been role-playing for about four years now. I started in roleplays
of little skill and moved on to become more advanced. If you frequent the roleplaying
boards on Neopets you probably already know that there are many different skill
levels. However many times the boards that appear to be advanced aren’t. There
is an art to being an advanced roleplayer, but what exactly makes a good roleplayer?
Your writing style is important very important in role-playing. People get
their first impression from what your post looks like, and how you are unique.
Your style is the most obvious aspect of roleplaying, and thus will hold a quick
assessment of if you are even literate or not. Can you spell? Do you use correct
grammar? How long are your posts?
For the first two questions you only have to have the appearance of having
good grammar. This is especially true when roleplaying on the neoboards. Because
they move so fast you have to be able to say what you want to say quickly, which
leaves a wider margin for error. Because the boards often move quickly the less
is more philosophy has never been truer here. People don't want to read long
posts unless they are interesting, and most long posts aren't interesting. A
good post should catch the reader's eye, like a lead to a good story. This is
an example of a bad lead to a Lupe Role-play, it is interactive but it is not
at all original or interesting. It doesn’t make you stand out form the crowd.
Her orbs glanced at the cliff, looking it up and down in its entirety.
She was a tall Lupe with thin muscles stretched over her every curve. Her obsidian
colored pelt was that of midnight, and she was grateful for it, for Obrea trusted
midnight lupes the most, and Jnea only trusted those of her hue. Crea was glad
for this and howled into the night.
My main qualm with that first one is that it involves wolf speak. Wolf speak
is a technique that uses ostentatious words to replace normal words. Usually
they replace colors names, like black to ebony. Or they use eccentric words
for parts of the body, such as eyes to optics or orbs. It is of my opinion to
never use wolf speak, using orbs, or optics to refer to as eyes does not make
you sound more intelligent neither does looking in Land Ends catalogs for different
ways to say colors. If you use unique words rarely they can be added gems. And
if you are going to use words, make sure they are real words, or at least share
some semblance of the dictionary meaning, for instance the word terra to mean
territory, when in reality it means a mountain on the moon. But if you use them
all the time it is ten times worse than not saying them at all. Saying shimmering
emerald versus, green does not make you sound more sophisticated, in fact some
of the new names of colors are so over used that they become cliché.
The next problem is the way we just tell about her physical appearance and
nothing about who she is. We give a lot of random names, but we know nothing
Also the names themselves, people get the idea that every name has to be exotic
if the setting is wolf or fantasy. I call this the exotic name syndrome. It's
okay to have an interesting name but try to make it less than three syllables.
Another good way to find out if your name isn’t too strange is for you to take
it to your parent or friend and have them be able to pronounce it correctly
in three tries or less. The most important things about names is having it fit
your character. This happens especially when people play more than one character,
and thus you end up with an Arellenda, Mirou and their brother Riquishentonton.
Don't introduce every character by name at once. For example start by describing
your character Mary then have her look at your other character John. Have her
think about John then move into an omnipotent description and then slowly into
his thoughts. Doubling up is very hard I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who
is not advanced.
The third problem with this description is that Crea is a typical Lupe, powerful,
beautiful, and mysterious. What makes her different? Absolutely nothing makes
her unique. Here is an example of a new and inventive introduction to a Lupe
Bounding, dancing, singing, how Cathrine wished she could do that. She
had once been great, scars running along her slightly fat frame spoke of glorious
battles. Her tale drooped between her legs like a wilted flower, as she scuttled
across the small plateau in the middle of the mountains. She felt her legs groan
under her and shuddered, she was growing old, and for a Lupe that was never
a good thing. Would this be the last sunrise that she saw, the last sunset?
She began to look on the sunlight with a new admiration, and fear. The last
of everything always causes us fear. Her brother however was young, he would
help her. Olen would help her.
That introduction allows us to get to know the character better in fewer words,
which is always a plus. Often times the people who say anything about either
matter on quantity or quality are either to one extreme. Nothing vexes me more
than to for someone to think: She walks up wearing a green shirt and blue hip
hugger jeans, she is sad; her eyes are a deep emerald; her hair is brown; she
is a telekinetic, is the best way to describe your character. There needs to
be a balance.
Good grammar in a role-play is like going to a job interview dressed well.
You don’t have to have the best quality of grammar as long as it looks nice.
In most other situations I preach and preach about quality but here is the one
place in role-playing where it’s okay to fake it. To be advanced you do not
have to have perfect grammar, you only have to look like you do. One of the
keys to that is capitalizing your I’s and putting punctuation at the end of
a sentence. Look at the difference between these excerpts of a post.
i went to the market with the basket under mey arm. a strorm was brewing
on the edges of my thought it was a big storm a terrible storm!!!!! I was afraid.
I went to the market with a basket under my arm. A storm was brewing on
the edges of my thoughts. It was a big storm, a terrible storm. I was afraid
of my own thoughts, even if only the edges of them.
The difference is very palpable, and though they are for the most part the
same, they look very different. One post could pass as advance and the other
could not. However look at this, this is an example of faking your way through
I went to the market with a basket under my arm, in my thoughts a storm
was brewing. On the very edges. It was a big storm, a terrible storm. And that
caused me to be afraid of this.
Now, there are quite a few problems with this. First of all there was a fragment,
and the last sentence sounds awkward. Also the first sentence was a run-on.
However most roleplays are not proofreaders and will not notice this. However
the closer you are to writing correctly, they better people will see you at
first. It’s best use correct grammar, but if you fake it you can make it.
Style is what gives your other roleplayers an impression of you, be it good
or bad. So hopefully this article helped you make a better impression.