One of the more common questions we as experienced role players get is "How do you make your posts so good?", while this is a compliment and we as the complimentees are bound by common courtesy not to answer it, I as the infamous Pimp Named Slickback (formerly known as Slacker, formerly known as Queen Asshat, formerly known as Slacker, formerly known as Rainbow Brite, and formally known as Slacker once more) decided that I will attempt to endeavor to answer this question.
Quality vs. Quanity is something that we all come into contact with, it’s a constant battle between ourselves and how people perceive our writing, we constantly find ourselves apologizing if our post is “too short” and we find ourselves feeling even guiltier if people tell us bluntly “Wall of text O_O”. How do we prevent this? What role does quantity play in a post?
To put it bluntly it plays a big role, but not in the traditional sense. Length and good posts seem to go hand in hand, by no means though does this mean that short posts are bad. I would personally say that 300 is the magic number, 300 words allows you to have enough room to do three things: A thought process, a few lines of dialogue, and of course the most important part, the action itself.
Thought Process Edit
Thought process I would say gives you the most impact. It is something that usually won’t play a big role in the actual events in the thread, but it will give all of us as readers insight onto what you’re character is thinking. It can be used to show subtlety in your characters ever growing insanity, would Adam Dodd be considered an Anti-Hero if we where completely ostracized from his thought process? I would say that he would seem just slightly better than Jacob Starr or if I may, just as crazy as Cillian Crowe.
Thought Process should be approached in one way, is it relevant? By all means make your thought process erratic, but relevance should be important, only Mitch Gunther would be thinking of cheese with a gun to his head, only one student can claim to be Mitch Gunther and only one out of the thirty seven members can claim to control his thoughts. Your characters thought process is not meant to show the communication with other characters, but to show your characters' reaction with themselves.
Your character shoots somebody, their thought process directly coincides how they’re perceived by us the reader, are they a villain? If so they should be having a thought process that lacks empathy and if they’re a hero they should show conflict, self hatred, and most of all a bit of sadness. Remember, do not be afraid of writing less, say what needs to be said that gives us all an intricate understanding of your character. Remember, if we cannot understand WHY your character is doing these things (which your thought process will reveal) then you have failed as both a storyteller and an RPer.
We as humans rely on spoken language for everything. Our connotations, our facial expressions, and the loudness of our voice can make a normally polite sentence be taken completely differently. On the internet this is particularly hard to show to our fellow RPers and it’s even more difficult to show via people who are not us than it is to show when we are speaking. The dialogue is crucial to making a scene, it is one of the “actions” in which the character will respond to.
Normally in written work colloquial speech is looked down upon, but in dialogue it is something that we encourage. Not all of the kids in your school speak in perfect sentences, not all of them speak in the same accent, and not all of them have the same range of vocabulary. How odd is it when you’re reading a post and all of a sudden a character uses a word like “Austere”, it sort of removes you from the feel that these are high school students.
While colloquial speech is encouraged another thing if abused is the “speech”. In normal conversation how many words do you speak at one time? A couple sentences? A few eords? A character constantly answering every question with a speech is not only annoying, but unrealistic. A nice rant is good in moderation, but if done excessively it can be just as bad as simple animalistic grunts.
I assume that dialogue and thought process will be in each and every posts, however some posts require not only some spoken word, but some action as well, in the next section that will be addressed.
Actions are another important thing, in fact one of the most common comments you get is “Just make sure your actions are open ended” and when revolving actions aimed at other characters. However the actions your character makes are also an issue.
Every time your character is doing something write it down or the reader will have to assume that your character is just a robot, standing there. Anyone with that amount of concentration, anyone who can yell at someone and remain perfectly still is someone to be applauded, I however am detached from the role play when stuff like that happens.
A simple rule about actions would be “Is this realistic?” and the first question your should ask yourself is “What would I do in this situation?” , then simply adjust the variables of the characters personality with your own. That method (albeit a little elementary) will almost be a sure fire way to guarantee high quality actions.
A good post is comprised of three things: thought process, action, and dialogue. These things when put into conjunction will give your character a more realistic feel to it (and remember realism = good on SOTF). As far as post size goes, I would say that 300 words would be the ideal, however do not feel bound to this. Say what you have to do and if it’s 250 words or 25,000 words it will be fine.
Subject to editing by all staff members