Writing a great roleplaying post is harder than it seems. Forum roleplaying may seem easy on the surface — and some aspects are! There are certain things you can do as a roleplayer to craft a really great RP post — each and every time.
When Writing a Roleplaying Post…
Note your character’s quirks, movements, body language, gestures, and so forth. Don’t overload your posts with action. Do remember that if your post is all thought and speech, there’s very little for the other writer to respond to. If you throw in a little bit of action into each roleplaying post, it makes the thread that much more interesting!
Respond to Action
If the other character made a move, action, or betrayed something in their body language (and your character was likely to notice), do respond! If their character stepped forward in their roleplaying post, perhaps your character steps backwards. Or — doesn’t, depending on the interaction. Make sure you’re not skipping over anyone else’s action that requires response, either — such as a handshake, high five, etc.
Don’t Forget the Scenery!
Especially in long threads, the scenery is sometimes neglected. If the characters are standing outside in a forest talking for hours, maybe the sun starts to set and they have to begin making their way home. This can change the flavor of the thread from simple idle chat to a real adventure — and a great way for two characters to bond. If the characters are sitting in the main camp tent late at night, perhaps a few NPCs join them for drinks and dancing?
Mistake? PM the Player!
PM the other player if they made a mistake in their roleplaying post. If your character extended their hand in your last roleplaying post, but the other roleplayer doesn’t mention it or have their character react, they may have simply missed something. It’s polite to PM the roleplayer and let request they edit their post if it’s integral to thread progression. Forging ahead with your post under the assumption that their character intentionally dismissed your character’s handshake may not be what should have happened.
Show, Don’t Tell
This is important in roleplaying and writing both—rather than telling your audience flat out how your character feels, you should show them instead.
WRONG: “Azazel felt awful for what he had done.”
RIGHT: “Azazel’s ears drooped and his eyes fell to the ground, unable to look at the other canine. The corners of his lips drooped in the beginnings of a frown, and when he opened his mouth to speak, he found shame had taken the words out of him.”
Roleplaying Post Don’ts
- Don’t respond to every bit of speech.
Don’t be afraid to give non-verbal responses — nods, stares, shakes of the heads, funny looks, waves of the hand, thumbs up, smiles, grins, shrugs, crossing of the arms, and so forth. This simplifies the thread and can help prevent awkward speech patterns between the roleplaying characters.
- Don’t overthink.
Don’t immerse yourself completely in the character’s head. It’s great that she’s thinking of her dead parents in this somber moment, but it gives the other roleplayer very little to reply to. Make sure your post doesn’t consist solely of thought — it’s very difficult to reply to.
- Don’t overdo the action, either.
Don’t over-stuff with action, changes, and alterations. A slight change of scenery, like the sun beginning to set, is great. A major shift — such as a cliffside cave beginning to flood — may not be so appreciated by the other roleplayer(s).
- Don’t be over-controlling.
It’s important not to entirely direct the course and flow of a thread. Allow the other player to make some decisions, even if it’s an unplotted thread—this is easily done by leaving open-ended replies. For example, if two wolves are hunting a moose, the first character’s reply could detail their approach, the second could detail the selection of suitable prey, the third could detail the actual attack, so on and so forth. Each roleplayer gets to dictate a different part of the interaction and advance the storyline a little; it’s more fun for everyone this way.