Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
The Content of a Basic Post
A post should contain:
- the entry of your character if this is your first post in the thread. This includes the reason for being there, the way he looks and what others might perceive. Your PC may enter in all threads that are not clearly marked private, provided of course he can come up with an excuse for being there.
- the reaction to other players and NPC's, as well as the environment. You are not operating in a vacuum.
- an action. This is the way in which you want to move the story forward.
- an OOC comment to the moderator only if necessary. While you should limit this to short remarks and leaving out anything chatty, you can ask if the thread is ready to wrap or ask for a clarification of a small matter. If you want to interact OOC with players, just hanging around, use the OOC forums instead, or talk to each other in PM or chat.
The five (or six) senses
Try and imagine what your character looks like, what particular habits he has, how he moves, if he is wearing a scent, what noises he makes other than speech, what he emotions he experiences, his reactions to what he sees, hears, feels and tastes. The purpose is to create opportunities for others to react as well. It also makes your character involved with the environment.
The setting particulars
Try and remember the setting and use words that are part of the atmosphere. Maybe there is a different way of indicating time, or certain ways in which people greet each other. There could be a particular form of dress. By using the particulars of the setting you merge your character into the game.
Avoid one liners but don't write a book
Try and write at least a paragraph, preferably three or four. Do not be tempted however to describe every moment in time, including more than one emotion felt in a post. It blows it all out of proportion and can quickly bore an audience. As a rule of thumb every paragraph should contain either a reaction or an action. Typically action scenes have shorter posts than conversations or simple interaction posts.
By varying short and long sentences, as well as short and long paragraphs, your writing gains more natural speed and interest. Don't be tempted to keep it to just short sentences.
Never ever EVER say in any circumstances "so tell me all about yourself" or "I want to know everything" at least not to an NPC. Clues are desired very much. If you want a task to prove yourself to a certain NPC, or gain a point of interest, then at least give an example of where your talents lie to help the mod's old grey cells chug into life.
Vary your choice of words but don't be a walking thesaurus
Widen your vocabulary. Often there are other words available that have a better flavour, or mean something that is just a tad more applicable in a specific context. Make it a regular habit to check a thesaurus for whether you are using the most appropriate word available.
Try not to use the same description for your PC time and time again. Referring to your PC as Taylor or he without variation is boring. Use synonyms to add a bit of spice. He can also be the silver-haired man, the rakish gentleman etc. This also reveals extra character.
Turning posts into a test of verbosity, using the most difficult words possible and clever turns of phrases in every paragraph only remains interesting up to a point. Try to remember to keep this effective as a from of communication and don't get lost in admiring your own skill. It is important that a post maintains the speed of the thread and an overuse of words straight out of a thesaurus makes a reader mentally come to a halt.
Do not post 'if' posts. They are ungainly and interrupt the flow of reading. Simply save your action for the next post.
- A example of how not to post:
- The Count silently walks across the room. Pausing he glares at Louisa as everyone knows the dislike each other. Moving to the door he tries to open it. If it opens he will enter the room, if not he will ask the guard for the key.
Role Playing not Roll Playing
One of the most interesting aspects of a PBP over tabletop is the ability for characterdevelopment, which is thus highly encouraged. Show how your character is impacted by the story, how he changes due to what happens. Let him explore every emotion that he experiences.
Focusing only on actions, instead of enjoying the luxury of words and characterdevelopment can be good for a short scene, but will get very jarring if that is the only thing you write in short one or two liner posts. What fun is PBP if you do not get into your act?
Thoughts flesh out the post, add depth to the character and help other PC's understand what's going on... most importantly of all it helps the mod realize what the PC is after. We do like clues!
It's nice to have a mix of thought styles too.
- Example:He realized that arranging dinner for two was taking a liberty but he could not help but delight in anticipation of it... Can I persuade her to stay the night?, he thought wickedly, Lord, I hope so.
Take a chance (or put in some humour) but don't assume
Take a risk, for without risk there is no gain. Be innovative, do something wrong on purpose sometimes, tell lies, think bad thoughts. Sometimes the greatest enjoyment of a thread is when you infuse it with humour, often at the expense of your own character. This is not to say that your every attempt should be thwarted by your moderator, but rather that you should try and avoid perfection as that may turn out to be less inspiring in the long term for you as a player.
Do not assume the success of your actions. That is for your moderator to write and decide. However you can describe what actions your character is attempting and there is no reason to be very timid on this. Be daring.
Don't expect any decent favours from any high level NPCs unless you already gained their notice and if you really must see them then try to approach them in a chain through characters and NPCs. Every PC in his first season is a little fish in a big pond. Veterans at court may have gained more influence and therefore it is a good idea to get to know Veteran PC's. You might be able to gain more from them than from NPC's.
Not Too Little Action and Not Too Much Action
A post is an interaction, not a solo written story. Therefore a post should give the co-writers of the story, be they the moderators or other players, something to react upon. That could be a counter question, handing over information or giving an astute observation that helps the other along, a gesture, a very clearly displayed emotion that is hinted upon as being "public" etc. Deliberate mistakes and auto-fails for your own character are wonderful tools in this respect as well. You throw them a little rope so they can use that in their next post and the story moves on.
Somebody who is used to writing verbosely, or who is enthusiastic about a scene, can easily create a post that simply contains too much action. Too much action can cause replies to contain endless quotes so that other players can react to details, which in a worst case scenario is replied to by even more quotes, which can end in silly little timeknots (for instance the conversation run thus is fresh for the player, but the character had he know the end of the conversation, might have reacted differently in the rest of the conversation which has already been replied to two posts previous).
It can also mean that action A, B, C en D are posted by writer 1, thus assuming that writer 2 and 3 contribute nothing to actions A,B, en C so that he can arrive at action D without opposition. Often it means that writers 2 and 3 will go along with the proposed actions but without feeling very involved or adding much detail.
Use BB code to your advantage
Lay out can help the readability of a post. Here are some tricks and costumes that have helped us in the past.
Things To Do:
- Use [b][/b] to bold the names of PC's you are interacting with to help them catch the relevant passages for them to react to.
- Use [i][/i] to put in italics any inner thoughts your PC has. It will help differentiate it from spoken text, helping others from accidentally mindreading.
- Use [quote][/quote] for letters and other things you read.
- Use "" to indicate spoken text.
Things To Avoid (because they are disruptive to reading):
- Using color or bold to differentiate between thoughts and spoken word.
- Large signatures with pictures and flash animations