So You Want to Join an RP Group
A Guide to Creating and Playing Original Group RP Characters
Disclaimer: People have different styles of roleplaying. This centers around the style that I and my friends use. When reading instructional manuals for creative endeavors, always take suggestions with the knowledge that everyone likes different things.
RP groups are a lot of fun. After having exclusively done single one on one roleplays for the last nine or ten years, I only recently discovered the world of the deviantArt RP group. Many -- sometimes even hundreds! -- people gather in one location, all interested in the same base concept, and all hungry for roleplaying! It sounds like a writer's fantasy.
You almost always end up hitting it off with a couple of people whose style of writing compliments yours. The bonds you forge and the friendships that come with them are immensely strong, and you'll find people there for you through fun times and tough times. And, most likely, you'll find people who interest you with their writing so much, get you so immersed in the roleplay, that you'll look at the clock and wonder how you managed to stay up five hours past your self-designated bedtime.
One criticism of deviantArt roleplay groups, however, is that they tend to be somewhat exclusive. If your skills aren't up to par, people won't accept you. Tight knit groups full of friendship cliques are hard to pierce. But even despite these difficulties, there is one thing you and the others hold on common: a lot of roleplaying, and following that, a love of good, immersive writing. In this guide, I hope to give you some tips and tricks I've picked up along the way regarding how to create and roleplay compelling RP characters.
Investigating the RP Group's World
There are many, many different roleplay groups on deviantArt, and they all center around different things. There's a huge genre of "high school/college" sorts of roleplay groups, where you enlist as a student in a school that may or may not have some sort of magical or paranormal quality. There are historical RP groups set in a particular time period. There are even sexually charged groups where smut and/or BDSM is the primary interest. If you love a particular concept, you're bound to find an RP group centered around it full of likeminded people.
RP groups tend to have a "tagline" that gives you a brief description of what the group is about, and the concept it centers around. When you find one that has a tagline you're interested in, the first thing you should do (before designing a character) is to research the canon of the RP group's world. In general, a group will have a listing of canon-related journals that you can browse through, telling you about the world, character creation, history, facts, rules, and various other documents to help you flesh a character appropriate to the group.
TIP: Check the affiliates of big RP groups, as some lesser known RP groups will be in there. You can find new groups by doing this.
2. What kind of character fits this world?
Now that you've read about the world's canon, you will want to think to yourself regarding what kind of character fits the world of the RP group. If it's something centered around the paranormal, a vampire or a werewolf character is fine. However, if it's a reality-grounded group about the mafia, a vampire or a werewolf is completely out of place.
One way to get a good look at the type of characters suitable to the world is to examine the profiles of the founder and co-founders, moderators, or contributors. Almost all RP groups have some sort of group hierarchy, with the founder(s) at the top and various positions below them. Looking at their characters can help you flesh out an idea of your own. It can also give you an idea of how detailed your profile should be, when you get to that point.
TIP: Ask current members (in the group's chatroom) what they think of your character idea. If it seems OOC for the setting, they'll probably tell you. It's also useful to have someone to bounce ideas off of.
In general, common sense rules. Serious characters belong in serious themes. Light characters belong in light themes. Paranormal characters belong in paranormal and magic groups. Well-researched characters belong in period-based groups. Having a character that suits the theme of the RP group tells the group staff that you did your research and respect the group's canon.
Designing a Character
Names, names, names. There's a reason why there's a huge industry for baby names - they're important! They're also one of the most fun parts of character creation. However, it's important that you stick to group canon when naming your character. Obviously, if the group is set on an alien planet where most characters have names like Dag'rilith or Nak'salak, you probably don't want to name your character George.
TIP: Look at the names of other characters in the group to get a feel for the naming aesthetic, especially among the founders and moderators.
You should also probably try to avoid naming your character stereotypical Mary Sue names. Naming a character "Blood Rayven" or "Ebony Nightwhisper" is more likely to make your character infamous and subject of OOC laughter than bring your character any respect. Also try to avoid giving your character a ton of names, as that's another sign of Sueism. An example would be Ivory Willow Darkness Nightwanderer. In general, just try to avoid the blatantly "goth" or "dark" names. They're old now. Japanese names tend to be a writer no-no as well, especially with the popularity of anime, unless the character is Japanese or you're confident you can write the character properly (e.g.: a character that isn't stereotypically American, but with a Japanese name).
TIP: Avoid giving your character a first name and last name that seem like they don't go together, like Ba'ra-Dl'eth Jackson -- unless you have a very, very good reason for it.
This is a really great reference for selecting names: babynamesworld.parentsconnect.… You can look up names by meaning, language origin, and other filters. I tend to name my characters based off Greek or Roman names. But looking at some of the more obscure languages can give you a unique, interesting name. Just try to make sure you don't give a character a name that's inappropriate for their appearance and history. It doesn't have to match 100%, but it can be jarring to see a character named prominently from one culture if they behave like another (usually mainstream is the culprit) culture.
2. Physical attributes
Physical appearance is probably the first thing other RPers are going to judge your character by. A better put together, artistic, aesthetically-pleasant design is probably going to get more interest than someone in a simple hoodie and jeans. Take time to really think about your character's clothing taste. If you can come up with an interesting (but not too complex, hopefully, unless that's your thing - I personally dislike "cluttered" designs) design for your character, they're going to really shine. It can also be useful to make sure your character stands out if a simple headshot is being done of them with a bunch of other characters. Is your character easily distinguished by some sort of physical trait, hair style, or clothing item that could be viewed in a headshot?
TIP: Don't overload your character with unique clothing and accessories. A character really only needs one unique feature to be distinguishable, especially if it's clothing.
When thinking about clothing, you should probably stick to one or two main colors and perhaps one to three accents. Look at the character (their entire appearance, including their clothing) as a cohesive unit and try to determine what would make them more aesthetically pleasing. Color combinations can make for a very appealing character to draw, and a big part of RP groups is drawing your and other people's characters. If you design a character that's fun for other people to draw (and, most important, fun for you to draw!) they'll get more interest and fanart than otherwise. This doesn't necessarily mean that the character has to be beautiful or attractive, but just that their design is engaging and interesting!
TIP: Use Colour Lovers to get some color scheme ideas.
As for their actual physical body, there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself: how thin is the character? How muscular? What features can help uniquely describe them? Do they have a certain shape of face? Nose? Lips? Are their eyes more round or oval? How thick are their fingers? How about their wrists? What's their complexion like? Do they get acne? Do they have any scars? How easily are they wounded? How long do their cuts bleed before stopping?
Remember that bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You shouldn't necessarily force yourself to play a character you don't identify with or don't feel comfortable playing (you're doing this for fun, after all), but it can be interesting to explore character design beyond thin, attractive, Caucasian types.
TIP: Go to a mall or public place and people watch. What are some physical features you notice as unique to each person? Write them down for later inspiration.
3. Personality, Likes, and Dislikes
Now that you have your character's physical appearance down, study your character and try to enter their mind. What kind of personality does this person have? You can really explore a character by figuring out their preferences. Think about your own likes and dislikes for inspiration (though you won't want to give all of those to your character, that's generally a sign of self-insertion and is widely disliked in RP groups).
What kind of food does your character like and dislike? Music? What do they do in their time alone? How about when they're with friends? Do they have any collections? What sort of items are sentimental for them (either in general, or from childhood)? How do they feel about different types of weather? You can even explore small details like what kind of pillow or bed firmness/softness your character likes!
TIP: If you can't think of likes or dislikes different from your own, look at free dating sites and check out what people put as their likes, dislikes, and hobbies in their personal profiles. Sometimes it can be hard to think outside of one's sphere.
What is their moral compass like? How do they feel about stealing? Hurting others? Lying? Cheating? How would they feel if they killed someone? Understanding a character's moral compass can give you some real insights on their personality, as well as give you ideas for their history.
It can also be interesting to think about the range of emotions and how your character reacts to them, big and small. How does your character react to happiness? Do they scream their bliss at the top of their lungs, or do they quietly smile? Do they have any reaction at all besides inner happiness? What about anger? Sadness? Depression? Fear? Longing? Love? Hate? Boredom? Even more importantly, why do they react like that?
TIP: When you discover a new personality trait for your character, ask yourself "Why?" to get more insight on the character's psyche.
4. Strengths and Weaknesses
Every person has strengths and weaknesses, and an important part of character design is to ensure you have a balance between them. An overly strong or talented character can come off as unrealistic, boring, or worse, a godmod. An overly weak character can come off as pathetic, annoying, and worse, an attention hog. A compelling character should have an interesting mixture of strengths and weaknesses, and the weaknesses should not be those that are shallow or trivial.
TIP: Try creating strengths and weaknesses based on the setting. If the setting is medieval, the character might be strong at archery, but is absolutely terrified of hand to hand combat and close quarter violence.
Strengths and weaknesses come in many different forms. There are various skill-based strengths and weaknesses, and not just limited to fighting, but we'll discuss combat ones first. Is your character agile or clumsy? Is their physical strength strong or weak? Is their vision poor or excellent (or somewhere in the middle, as is the case with most skills)? Is their emotional control in a battle strong or weak? How is their tactical and strategic ability? Do they fight in the moment, or strategize the battle many "moves" ahead? Does their species have any magic ability that can be classified on the scale of strong to weak?
TIP: Try not to erase conventional species weaknesses from your characters. If your character is a vampire, let them burn in the sunlight. Hybrids should not be an excuse for covering up species weaknesses either. Try letting the hybrid suffer from the weaknesses of both parent species.
But fighting is not the only sort of skill-based strength or weakness. Can they cook, or does everything they touch turn into liquid disaster? How is their mechanical skill? If a TV breaks, can they fix it? How is their creative skill? Are they good at drawing, painting, writing, playing musical instruments? Are they charismatic, or socially awkward and don't know how to talk with people? Do they make friends easily? Are they able to easily think outside the box, or are they the sort who need specific instructions, and don't think outside concrete social knowledge?
TIP: Make sure the skills and weaknesses match the setting. Someone living in a non-technological setting would not know how to fix a computer.
Hobbies are a good way to figure out what a character's strengths are, though that's not necessarily the case. There are people who enjoy doing something but who are terrible at it, so don't be afraid to give your character a hobby that they suck at. Think about all sorts of hobbies, and how your character feels about them. Are there any in particular that character has spent time developing skill in? Thinking back to likes and dislikes, do they like skills they are good in? Bad in? What if they vehemently dislike doing something they are good at?
Emotional strengths and weaknesses are among the most important, I think, and most interesting ones one can consider. They are what make the ground basis of a personality. People can have emotional strengths such as being nice, loyal, fair, self-sacrificing, etc. But I think the emotional weaknesses are what make characters interesting, as well as can be good catalysts for drama. Is your character easily jealous? Selfish to the point of hurting others for their own benefit? A liar, even when they don't want to lie to someone important to them? Do they give into coercion and are weak-minded? Are they stubborn to the point of losing friendships over differences? Are they intolerant? Do they easily betray someone's trust?
TIP: Use the character's emotional weaknesses to start off plots, or complicate already existing ones. But most importantly, don't give a character a weakness then gloss over it in the RP.
5. Fun Facts Make the Person
Fun facts are interesting little tidbits about a character that help make them more realistic and three dimensional. Quirks are incredibly interesting and can give a character flavor. Think about the people that you know, and the little things that are unquestionably them. What about the person who seems to have no sense of humor and who doesn't swear, but once in a blue moon will randomly crack a profane joke, taking everyone by surprise? What about someone who wears old, 50's-style dresses to a modern school? What about someone whose laugh sounds like a horse? What about someone who refuses to let someone take a photograph of them?
If you think about the people you've known throughout your life, there's a good chance each one of them has at least one strange quirk that you can use as inspiration. What about someone who doesn't seem to realize they speak extremely loudly? What about someone who hates being asked to repeat themselves? What about someone who takes every opportunity to correct the verbal grammar of others? What about someone who HAS to be right, even if they're wrong? What about someone who hates dog ears and has to use a bookmark when reading? What about someone who hates cracking the spine of a book?
Knowing these little facts is like adding the perfect spices on top of a meal. They season your character just right and make them more realistic and interesting.
TIP: You'll discover fun facts and quirks as you flesh the character out in RP. Keep track of them in your character's profile so you don't forget them or contradict them later.
The chronological events that make up our history is what shapes our selves and the way we see the world. Someone who grew up in a war torn, violent country is not going to see the world the same way a comfortable suburbanite will.
You should map out your character's history fairly well, as it contains the reasons why they like certain things and dislike others, why they react to various stimuli the way they do, and why they hold the opinions that they do. You can start with childhood -- how was your character's early years? Did they go to school? What was their family like? How about the financial situation? Did your character feel safe (or perhaps ignorantly so) when they were young? Did they feel wanted and loved? What lessons did they learn? What discoveries did they make about themselves, other people, and the world itself?
A caveat, however: while it can be interesting to throw tragedies into a character's past, you should be wary not to overdo it. A character doesn't need to be molested, raped, nearly killed, seen their family brutally murdered, and sold into slavery to be an interesting character. Tragedies in pasts are like spices: use them sparingly and they can increase the richness of flavor, use them too much and you have something unpalatable.
TIP: Please be careful with the way that you handle tragedies, both in characters' pasts and in plots. They should not be treated like jokes. Someone in the group might have suffered that tragedy and it could offend or hurt them if you make a joke out of something they suffered through.
Another interesting part of histories: how much does your character remember? What memories stick out the most to them? All people have memories that are strong and stay with them, while some other memories fade. Some memories can even become twisted to make you think something happened that didn't. Some people remember their time as a toddler, others don't, and yet others have maybe one strong image or a certain moment from that time that they still remember.
TIP: Write down the most important events that happened to your character in their past.
Now that you have a rough outline of your character, it's time to figure out what goes in the profile that accompanies your RP group application. You definitely want to have important, basic facts about them: name, age, height, creature type, etc. But what else should you include? And how much should you put in?
The general rule for writing is that less is more, and that applies to profiles as well. Try to describe your character as succinctly as you can, but without having a bare bones profile. Include the information that you think will interest your potential partners the most. Don't have paragraphs about personality or history get too long; if you have a lot to say, make sure there's plenty of white space so your partner doesn't feel like they're facing a huge block of text.
TIP: Keep track of how your character feels about other characters in their profile. It's fun for other people to read and it helps with consistency.
Try to set up your profile in a cohesive way. Make sections for various parts -- personality, history, likes and dislikes, skills, etc. You can also use icons like or to add a graphical element to your profile and break up stretches of text. Those sort of additions can make it easier for the eye to process large amounts of writing.
8. Mary Sueism
If you're new to RP groups, you might not know what a Mary Sue is. Even if you're not new to the concept, you might be wondering how exactly you diagnose one. There really isn't a formula for figuring out whether a character is a Mary Sue. They are, however, generally described as characters made by inexperienced writers that are unrealistically attractive, powerful, smart, capable of dispelling plot drama with ease for the applause, or combinations of the above. Sues tend to try to steal the spotlight in a roleplay or show off their immense skills. Imagine you're deep into a plot, with your character and someone else's character struggling to solve a problem, and a Sue character comes through and solves the issue with no effort at all. It completely ruins the struggling in the plot, which was the point of it.
One way to diagnose a Sue is to ask if the character you're making is too much like you, or if they are supposed to represent you in the RP world. That would make the character a "self-insert," which basically means you're roleplaying as yourself in the RP group's world. Other roleplayers typically don't like Mary Sues or self-inserts because the roleplay tends to be more about self-gratification than drama or plot or character development. More on godmodding will be discussed later.
TIP: Don't make your character stronger than the characters of the RP group's staff members.
Now we're going to get into the nuts and bolts of roleplaying itself in an RP group setting. This section should hopefully give you some new tools for your toolbox in pushing your writing to make it more interesting and immersive for your partners.
Before you start roleplaying with your new character, you should know the etiquette for the group you're part of. Instead of jumping into a roleplay immediately, observe for a little while. See the way that the current roleplayers structure their posts. Try to get to know some of the characters by watching their roleplaying. See if someone's style or character is appealing to you -- you could ask them to start a roleplay later.
Here are some rules of etiquette based off the groups that I'm part of:
OOC posts and chater have a )) after them.
Always ask before entering a roleplay - you don't want to interrupt.
Before you enter a roleplay, ask for a recap or a summary. Try to integrate your character properly into the plot. For example, if someone is injured, don't just have your character stop by and ask "Hey guys, what's up?" Have your character respond appropriately to the situation they've walked into, especially if it's a serious RP.
Treat the setting properly - the setting tends to have a personality of its own, so don't override it. Worst, don't contribute to "white room syndrome," where it feels like characters are talking in a white room instead of a setting.
Don't bug someone (or in the group chat in general) to RP. If they don't want to, no need to keep asking.
Start new RPs either privately, or in a linked chat, not the main chatroom for the group, if there is already an RP happening in the main chat.
Try to get to know people before asking for a roleplay. You don't want to behave like they are only there for your amusement.
If you're only staying for a short amount of time, let everyone know. Some people don't want to start a roleplay if their partner has to leave fifteen minutes later. If you can't stay longer than an hour, give a warning at the beginning.
If you're exiting a roleplay due to needing to go, properly exit your character. Don't just drop out and leave everyone wondering whether your character just evaporated into thin air.
Adhere to grammar and spelling rules when you are typing in an RP chatroom, even OOC. People judge you based on your grammar and spelling, and might not want to roleplay with you if you sound uneducated or use text-speak a lot.
2. Script Style
Script style is named as such because it is based off of writing screenplay scripts, though it doesn't closely follow that style in most circles anymore. There are generally two types of script, "crack" script and "advanced" script. Script, in general, follows this structure, however:
Name- *actions in present tense* Dialog. *thoughts in italics*
Crack script tends to be extremely short, usually only employing dialog or a short action. Nuances of writing rules might be broken in it, such as overuse of capital letters, exclamation points, or characters acting out of character. It can be fun to do, but somewhat exhausting after long, and it's difficult to develop a plot in crack script due to the lack of content.
Short: Drake- *grins* What?
Cracky: Drake- ALL RIGHT SCARF. IT'S TIME TO SHOOP DA WOOP. GO, ATTACK!!!
Crack script, basically, lacks the depth that advanced script has. Advanced script, while not having the same structure as paragraph style, has the same general content of it. Advanced script tries the set the character's location in relation to the setting, establish concrete detail, explore character thought, as well as convey dialog and actions. Advanced script posts can be as short as a small paragraph to as long as 500-700 words.
Drake- But what can we do...? *he taps his fingers against the kitchen table as he considers the question, his mind struggling to piece together his thoughts -- what were they going to do about the mirror people situation? The time to simply pretend it was another danger of the mansion had passed, and while they couldn't necessarily guarantee safety to the guests, it was another thing to let known reflections maim and violate others* *his gaze seems to space out as he stares past the table and toward the wall, his mind emptily tracing the marks and wedges where knives had flung themselves at the plaster* I don't think we can do anything...
Script style is typically used in chatrooms. Observe the other roleplayers to see what kind of length post you should be making. In general, try to match the length to your partner's -- you wouldn't want to reward their effort in writing you a long post with a one liner. It can make someone feel like they shouldn't even bother continuing.
3. Paragraph Style
Paragraph style can sometimes be found in group chatrooms, but it's more commonly used in group forums. A group will sometimes have an offsite forum where you can utilize this style of roleplaying. A paragraph post should look like a small passage out of a novel, and a minimum of a hundred words is probably a good amount to aim for.
Remember, however, that less is always more. Just because you can spend five hundred words describing the ocean doesn't necessarily mean you should. Be sure that you distinguish important detail from unimportant detail. Your character's thoughts are important, but describing what they are wearing in artistic detail is not. This is certainly not to say that you shouldn't use any description at all, but be considerate of what will interest (or bore) your partner.
Paragraph style posts should conform to general English standards for novel writing if you're roleplaying in English. Here are some tips and rules to prose (though whole books are written on this subject):
Dialog should be written as follows: "Hello," said Bob. It is NOT "Hello." Said Bob. It is also NOT "Hello" said Bob.
Try to go easy on adverbs and verbs used to designate speech. The dialog itself should convey the tone (unless this is contradictory to the way it is being said, then an adverb is useful). "Watch out!" Bob screeched loudly. That is quite redundant, as screeching implies loudly. Also avoid this: "I don't care," Bob grimaced. You cannot grimace, smile, or frown a sentence. The proper way to format that is "I don't care." Bob grimaced.
Avoid writing long paragraphs with no breaks. No one likes reading a wall of text on the computer; it's an eyesore. Find natural breaks in your paragraphs to put white space. Also, dialog makes a great white space creator and helps the aesthetic of your prose.
Go easy on descriptive adjectives. Typically you should only use an adjective if it is unique when paired with that noun, or something your reader won't automatically figure out themselves. You don't need to tell anyone about the "hot, blistering, yellow sun." Everyone knows the sun is hot, blistering, and yellow. If the sun is green, though, that is worth mentioning.
Don't be too artistic with your descriptions, which falls into purple prose territory. Purple prose is, essentially, when the momentum of the writing is slowed to a screeching halt to describe something in unnecessary, flowery detail.
4. Grammar and Spelling
The words of your post are what paint the scene's picture in your partner's mind, and grammar and spelling issues can severely damper that image. If you're not sure what a word means, look it up first. You can type "define (word)" in Google to have a word automatically defined for you. This allows you to avoid "that word doesn't mean what you think it means."
TIP: You can also type a word into Google to see if it's spelled correctly. Google will suggest the correct spelling if it isn't.
Google Chrome and Firefox both have the feature to spellcheck input boxes, so if you spell a word wrong, it will tell you and suggest the correct answer. Always make an effort to ensure words are spelled correctly. Too many mistakes will grate on the nerves of RP group members, and might cause them to avoid you.
Grammar is equally as important, but a little more subtle. Here are some rules to remember:
"I" should always be capitalized.
NO -- Drake- i don't know. *he looks around* i've never been here before.
YES -- Drake- I don't know. *he looks around* I've never been here before.
Capitalize the first letter of a sentence.
NO -- Drake- something's off here. i just don't know what.
YES -- Drake- Something's off here. I just don't know what.
Use commas correctly.
NO -- Drake- If there's a reason I don't know what it is.
YES -- Drake- If there's a reason, I don't know what it is.
NO -- Drake- I don't know, what do you think, perhaps, we ought to do something, about it?
YES -- Drake- I don't know. What do you think? Perhaps we ought to do something about it? (The above is an example of comma splicing and incorrect positioning in general)
Use apostrophes correctly.
NO -- Drake- Where can I find some cat's?
YES -- Drake- Where can I find some cats?
NO -- Drake- The bacons package was kind of gross.
YES -- Drake- The bacon's package was kind of gross.
Use the correct form of your/you're.
NO -- Drake- Your stupid!
YES -- Drake- You're stupid!
NO -- Drake- That's not you're bacon.
YES -- Drake- That's not your bacon.
TIP: Repace "your" or "you're" with "you are" and see if it still sounds right. If it does, you use "you're." If it doesn't sound right, you use "your."
Use the correct form of their/there/they're.
NO -- Drake- We're going their.
YES -- Drake- We're going there.
NO -- Drake- I wanted some of there bacon.
YES -- Drake- I wanted some of their bacon.
TIP: If you are talking about a location, you use "there."If you are talking about ownership, you use "their."
5. Concrete Detail
Concrete detail is description that brings to life a scene. It's what connects us to it through our senses. When writing a post, it's good to think about what kind of concrete detail you can include, especially if it'll invoke an image in your partner's mind.
SIGHT -- the most frequently used descriptor. It describes what something looks like. Are the staircases stone or wood? Is the lamp dim or bright? Is the air cloudy with smoke or crystal clear? Is a TV screen freshly wiped clean, or spotted with dirt and dust?
SOUND -- used to describe what your character hears. Is there an air conditioner running in the background? Is there the faint sound of screaming? Is someone's voice cracked or harsh? Is someone smacking their lips when eating? Is someone annoyingly tapping their fingers? Are sirens wailing in the distance?
TASTE -- used to describe what your character is currently tasting, and somewhat underused. Does their mouth taste nasty because they just woke up? Is a freshly opened soda crisp and refreshing? Is there a metallic blood taste in their mouth? Is the steak juicy and flavorful, or dull and like a piece of leather?
TOUCH -- used to describe what your character feels. Are they feeling greasy, slippery hair? Is the weather clammy and making their clothes stick uncomfortably to their skin? Is there sweat trickling down their spine from the heat? Is someone's cheek soft and velvety? Does a gentle touch bring a rush of heat to their face?
SMELL -- used to describe what your character smells. Is someone obviously sweaty and there's a whiff of body odor? Can they smell the shampoo another character used? Can they smell fresh air after being huddled under a blanket? Can they smell something burning? People all have unique scents, too (if you've ever smelled a pillow that belongs to someone else). Can you describe it?
When writing your post, try not to rely too heavily on sight descriptions. Strive to have at least two or three concrete details, and be sure to use the other senses -- it can ground your partner in the scene and make them much more invested, feeling like they can imagine it better.
TIP: Close your eyes and imagine the scene in your head and see what descriptions come to mind. Also, take your time. Writing is not a race.
Writing emotion is an excellent way to get to know your character better, as well as pique the interest of your partner. A character that seems to be perpetually one emotion (e.g.: calm or angry) is boring, but a character that is like a real person and feels the range of emotions is interesting.
As you're writing, try to logically ask yourself how the character would react to your partner's previous post. Try not to let your character stay in the same emotional state, as it becomes quite dull after a while. Everyone gets angry, happy, sad, irritated, bored, antsy, nervous, and excited (amid others) sometimes!
TIP: Try to avoid emotional whiplash, though. If your character is angry, happy, and sad in the span of ten minutes, it can be overwhelming. Let emotions come about appropriately, or start a plot that will push a character to feel a certain emotion.
There are two good ways to show emotion in your post. The first is giving your partner an insight to what's going on in your character's head. You can write their thoughts in either direct italic dialog or simply describe it as you would any other action. The difference is below.
Drake- *should he tell the truth? Should he not? Is it worth the risk of lying and the other finding out? But isn't he lying to protect their happiness? He'd do anything to ensure the other's happiness... but the risks make him quiver; he knows how much the other hates lying*
Drake- *Should I tell the truth? Should I not? Is it worth the risk of lying if he finds out? But if I'm lying to protect his happiness, isn't that different? I just want him to be happy... I'd do anything to know he's still smiling...* *but the risks make him quiver* *I know how much he hates lying... damn it... fuck! What do I do?*
A good way, of course, is to blend both of those together. Give some direct thought, and give some described thoughts.
The next way to show emotion is through description. Using concrete details, describe how the emotion is affecting the character. Below are some common emotions and possible ways for concrete detail to be used to describe them (but everyone's different. Think of yourself. How do you respond, physically, to these emotions?).
jittery hands, high pitched voice, positive outlook, wide eyes, sparkling eyes, electric rushes of bliss, speaking too loudly
downcast looks, just wanting to sleep, feeling like limbs are too heavy, crushing silence, quiet voice, tension
sweaty palms, shaking voice, stuttering, jitteriness, inability to stay in the same place, fidgeting, sick feeling in stomach, tense muscles, quick breathing
whimpering, rapidly beating heart, tingling limbs, hyper alertness, inability to speak, trouble breathing, chest tightness, hot tears in eyes, piloerection (hairs rising on skin)
cheeks burning, rushing feelings of cold and hot, flushing (ears, face, neck), rapid breathing, trembling, feel of skin under fingers, heart thrumming, taste of another's lips
When others are feeling an emotion around you, observe them. What do you notice? Could you use that next time in your writing as a concrete detail?
7. Action and Reaction (and Hooks)
Roleplaying is, by definition, collaborative writing. Therefore, it's important that every post you make has something for your partner to respond to -- it can either come from your character (dialog, an action, a state of being) or from the setting.
The part of the writing that your partner responds to is called your post's "hook." Here are some examples in each of the categories.
Dialog -- if your character is having a conversation with another, it gives them something to respond to.
Actions -- your character can interact with another character (touching, hitting, kissing, etc.) and provoke a reaction, or they can simply do an action that welcomes a reaction (such as falling down the stairs).
State of being -- if your character is sitting around sulking, the other character(s) might want to see what is wrong with them. You should generally not use this type of hook, though, it is rather passive.
Dangers -- something is making an effort to harm the other character, such as a dagger flies out of nowhere at them (but you should always give the other writer a chance to respond, don't simply state something happens to their character).
Attention Catchers -- something that would catch the eye of the other character, such as a portal appearing out of nowhere, stating that there's money on the floor next to the character, or a cold wind passes through.
The key is to always give your partner some content to respond to.
TIP: Try not to ignore any hooks your partners throw at you, especially in group settings. No one likes feeling forgotten.
8. Scenes and Sequels
Scenes and sequels involve the pacing of an RP. You could somewhat roughly categorize it as "things are happening" vs. "characters reflect on said things that happened." In general, a sequel should always follow a scene to give the characters a chance to breathe and contemplate what happened.
Scenes are used to increase the pace of an RP. If the RP is starting to get boring or repetitive, a scene should freshen things up. If everything feels like it's too quickly paced or things are happening too quickly, you probably need a sequel to give the characters the opportunity to reflect on what's happened so far.
This isn't necessarily true, but you can generally think of scenes as action or plot events and sequels as conversations or filler/fluff. Scenes typically demand more attention and consideration when writing whereas sequels can be more relaxing and less structured.
For roleplaying, there are generally two types of plots: structured ones or vague ones. A structured plot is one where you have events mapped out from start (the rising action) to finish (falling action), and you generally have an idea of how the characters are going to react to the various events as they happen. The roleplay itself follows that plot as it hits various milestones, until the end, when you finish the plot and start constructing another one.
A vague plot is one where you have a general goal in mind and improvise along the way. Ideas are created on the fly, and the road from start to finish is unclear. Vague plots can also follow prompts, where you have something inciting a plot, or spurring the characters to act in a situation, but you don't know how it's going to pan out in the end.
TIP: Try suggesting a prompt and asking others to suggest one too, then see which prompt has the most interest from involved RPers.
Structured plots have the benefit of a concrete road map that shows you where to go next. You complete the steps one by one and reach the end point. It is structured by its very nature, but doesn't leave as much room for organic plot development as a vague plot does. It can feel somewhat restricting, which can quench fun. Vague plots can be more fun, but have a tendency to meander forever if you don't give them a definite ending point. They allow for more creativity, but a muse block (when you don't have any further ideas) can cause the roleplay to die. You can still create a new one, though!
TIP: If you're not interested in an RP anymore, be honest with your partner, and work together with them to try to liven up the RP. Just don't string them along, especially if they seem really excited over it.
A plot allows the RP to escape mindless conversation territory. When nothing is happening, roleplays can get exceedingly boring. Giving the characters a goal is the biggest portion involved in a plot. Look at you setting to see if you can send the characters on an adventure, or give them something to work toward in the RP.
10. Attention Whoring
When roleplaying in a group, you will want to avoid attention whoring. This means that your character has a tendency to steal the spotlight in a roleplay, no matter what other characters are involved. This is the character that always saves the day or figures out the puzzle. This is the character that always gets injured and needs the other characters to take care of them. This is the character that is always depressed and needs someone to talk to.
There is no need to steal the spotlight in every roleplay. All of the players want to feel that their characters are equally important (and will sometimes share the main spotlight among each other depending on the plot or situation), not simply supporting characters to your character. In collaborative writing, you and your character are not the main focus. Try not to have your character act in a way that constantly demands other characters' attentions.
TIP: Be sure to give the other characters their time in the spotlight. Indulge them and they will do the same for you.
You should especially be careful when entering an already existing RP that you don't disrupt the current obstacles or complications. If the characters are struggling to overcome an obstacle or escape from something and your character enters and immediately has all the answers, the RP isn't fun for anyone. Conflict and obstacles are the meat of writing.
Godmodding is something that many roleplayers despise. It can be broken down into two categories: powerplaying and metagaming.
Don't write an action as successful against another character; give the other player a chance to describe how their character reacts (E.G.: don't say *hits Bob*, say *tries to hit Bob*).
Don't give your character too many sophisticated powers.
Don't make your character easily able to solve problems or get out of dangerous or testing situations.
Generally, don't describe your character as "the best" at anything, and make them earn their talents (it takes time to become skillful at something).
Don't make the character impossible to fight against.
When fighting, don't dodge all of the attacks made at your character, unless you and the other person have pre-arranged your character to win (for example, training, or to move the plot along).
Don't solve (or attempt to solve) other characters' problems without their player's permission.
Your character does not know what's in the other character's profile just because you read it.
Your character cannot gain skills that don't make sense for the setting (E.G.: knowing how to use a gun when they come from a medieval setting).
Staying Active and Involved
Part of the beauty of RP groups is the sense of community. You all write together, you're close friends, you draw each other's characters... it's fantastic. But how do you break into that bubble and find that kind of enjoyment?
1. Meeting New People
So you're new in an RP group and you want to make some friends. The group is probably either going to be quite cliquey and won't let you in immediately, or everyone embraces you and automatically accepts you as part of the group. If you find a group that does the latter, this part is probably already in the bag for you. But if you encounter a group with a lot of tight cliques, you might feel rejected or ignored in a group's chatroom.
Try to get to know the others through OOC chatter first. Ask them about their characters if their characters interest you (but don't be insincere, people can generally smell that from a mile away). If you have a plot idea that you think would be interesting to play, suggest it! People generally will be open to plot ideas; if they're hesitant to RP with a new person, it might be because they don't want a sort of meaningless chatter RP.
TIP: Don't be afraid to ask to join an RP, just be mindful of serious RPs and don't try to roleplay crack during them. It can really turn oldbies off of you.
Involve yourself with the chatter that's going on. Share your opinions and find similarities between yourself and the other RPers. All you're doing is making friends, so don't sweat it too much. You'll find someone you click with eventually.
You can introduce yourself to someone by starting an RP on their character's profile (having your character say hello, for instance), drawing some gift art for them, etc.
2. Setting Up A Roleplay
When you're setting up a roleplay, there are a couple of decisions you have to make, especially if it's in a chatroom. First, where is it going to take place? The main group chat, or one of the side chats? How many players do you want involved? Are you inviting people specifically? When the RP starts, can other people join? Is there going to be an order (to minimize confusion and posting over each other, having to correct posts, etc.)?
TIP: If you have an RP going and someone wants to join, don't ignore them. Either tell them yes or no.
Most importantly, what's the plot or prompt for the roleplay? Do you have any ideas on what's going to happen? Or are you and the players going to write by the seat of your pants, so to speak? Also, how long do the other RPers have to roleplay, and how long do you? If you're starting a roleplay, make sure you can dedicate some time to it! There is nothing more heartbreaking than getting into an RP and it dying due to inactivity.
3. Art Trades and Gifts
The art factor is really important on deviantArt RP groups. In fact, you generally get awarded points for drawing group-related artwork and submitting it to the group galleries. Therefore, one good way to start forging some relationships is to do art trades with people, create collaborations, or make them gifts. This is especially easy in chatrooms -- ask if anyone's interested in doing an art trade or collab, or if you're simply in a drawing mood, as if anyone would like you to draw their character.
If you're not very good at drawing, don't fret too much. It's the thought that counts, and knowing that someone took hours out of their life to make you something and make you happy is something everyone should appreciate. Don't forget that you could also write a story about their character (and yours, maybe) -- writing is art as well!
TIP: If you make something with another's character in it, link the final to their profile so they don't accidentally miss it.
In the event that someone draws a gift for you, always thank them. Always! It's also polite to favorite the picture and write a nice comment on it. After all, if they spent hours drawing you something, the least you can do is take two minutes out of your life to tell them what you like about it, and that it makes you happy. Also, if you have time for it, you should probably reciprocate with a gift of your own if someone gifts you out of the blue. It's just polite. But at the very least, show appreciation!
If you do unfinished work of someone's character, even if you don't like the artwork, still show them. You don't have to put it in your gallery or contribute it to the group; you can simply put it in sta.sh and show them the link. Fanart of their character typically makes people feel happy and appreciated, so even if it's not good (or you don't think it's good), still show them.
4. The Exclusivity Issue
If you get to the point where you're feeling confident and accepted in the RP group and you have your own set of friends, don't ever forget that you were once a newbie just like any newcomers that join the group. Remember what it felt like to introduce yourself to new people, and how you wanted to RP but might have felt intimidated. Newbies are probably feeling the same way, so don't hesitate to go out of your way to make them feel welcome.
TIP: Spend a roleplay with your character introducing a new character to the setting and its dangers, quirks, or curiosities.
Chilly communities seem to be an issue among RP groups, so be the one who roleplays with the newcomers, and try to involve your friends too if they're hesitant about roleplaying outside of their comfort few people. However, don't fall into a trap where you invite someone new into an RP with your friends and then completely ignore their character. That's even more hurtful than being excluded in the first place.
TIP: Start a plot or prompt that heavily involves the newbie's character so you don't risk blocking them out with characters that already know each other and have strong bonds.
You never know what the future holds, and RP groups thrive on activity. There is always more activity when newcomers are readily accepted, have fun RPing with the oldbies, and feel inspired to contribute their own work to the group. And who knows? Maybe that newbie will turn out to be your best friend three months down the line.
This guide is a compilation of the knowledge and tips I've picked up while roleplaying in Hiems-Mansion for five months. I hope you've found some of it useful. According to sta.sh, I wrote this straight through for seven and a half hours, so there are bound to be some typos. Kindly let me know if you spot any so I can correct them.