Improvement

Do you feel like your writing isn’t good enough? Have you gotten bored with the way you write? Do you just want something to try to improve on? A change of pace? Then you’re on the right page!

General Tips

Re-Read, Proofread, and Edit

Re-read the thread (or at least the two most recent posts) before you reply, especially if it’s been a while since you last replied. You don’t want to repeat things or settle into a repetitive rhythm.

Re-reading your posts is an easy way to avoid many errors. Look for areas lacking clarity in particular. If you don’t understand what you wrote, no one else will. It can help to take a short break — even ten or twenty minutes — before going back to edit. Start the next post, and when you’re done with that one, go back to the first to edit. Keep this up until you’re all tuckered out or done with your posts! This lets your brain refresh a bit in between posts, and lets you keep the pace going nicely, too.

Slow Down

Sometimes, we write too fast. You’ve got a dozen threads to reply to today, right? No — you don’t! Replying in a timely manner is important, but it’s equally important to give good posts. Making a partner wait a week is better than giving a partner a sloppy post with errors or little interaction.

Don’t Short Your Partner

Strive for 200 words (2 paragraphs). One of the most common issues with newer and inexperienced roleplayers is writing that lacks detail. Too little detail can make for boring or difficult roleplay — especially for your partner. We encourage members to write at least this amount for their posts. ‘Souls does not enforce a word minimum after acceptance, but we do strongly encourage writing at least this amount in posts.

RPGuide_04Use ‘Souls Resources

While these resources are here primarily to help with ‘Souls understanding and world-building, they can also be extremely useful for writing information. We provide a ton of detail regarding ‘Soulsverse — you can use that to your advantage!

  • Check over the RP Guide for information regarding the different types of Flora and Fauna of the game and incorporate different animals and plants into your posts.
  • Use the Areas information for the Weather and incorporate it into your posts. You don’t have to adhere exactly to the weather as it happens, but it can give you ideas. You may notice, if you get as far as the Areas on the ‘Souls Wiki, there’s a lot more than just weather to incorporate into your posts!
  • Use the map to plot your character’s journey across ‘Souls if they’re visiting a different area. If they have to travel to Prince Edward Island, read that territory’s description and describe it in your post — either as it happens or in retrospect.

Use Imagery

How effective is your imagery? Can a reader visualize the scene? What are you leaving up to the imagination? Emphasize what might be important. Consider metaphors, but don’t overuse them.

Spelling and Grammar

For the most part, the technical foundations of writing — spelling and grammar — just take practice.

Spelling

Built-in spellcheckers in almost all text editors and modern browsers make it easy to catch mistakes, but don’t rely exclusively on automatic checkers! When you find a misspelling, delete the word and re-write it correctly. You’ll learn, sooner or later! If you have to, write out on a piece of paper in big, bold markers any consistently troublesome words. Stick it up right next to your computer — you can look at it when you need to. This can eventually help you memorize words you spell wrong!

Grammar

Persistent grammar issues can be addressed in a similar manner. Re-read your writing — especially older writing — to understand what went wrong and how you could have said it better. If you use a grammar checker, first be aware that grammar checkers are imprecise. Second, don’t just take the checker’s advice that you structured a sentence incorrectly. Figure out why! What rule did you violate? What change fixes it?

Remember, too, that grammar tends to be relatively flexible, and that writers are generally allowed a fair degree of creativity in how they string together words. Know the rules well, but don’t be afraid to break them when it feels right.

If you need extra help, head over to the Questions and Help forum. You can post your writing for others to evaluate. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes and tailored critique can be most useful of all. Don’t worry — no one will eviscerate your writing, we’re nice!

Vocabulary

Diverse vocabulary can be a sign of sophistication, but “vocabulary” isn’t just using a thesaurus. You should understand the meanings, nuances, and correct usage of every word you use.

Synonyms may not be so easily swapped. Some words have shared definitions, but carry a different connotation. Build your vocabulary, but don’t get carried away with big, long, or obscure words just because you think they’re impressive. Sometimes you may be using them wrong — and consistently using words that are easier to understand makes your writing, as a whole, easier to understand.

Many dictionaries and thesauruses are available online. See External Links.

Speech and Dialogue

Dialogue is a difficult part of writing. When roleplaying, too, there are some “conventions” that you should try to avoid:

  • Avoid stuffing too much dialogue into your posts.
    One example of this is a character who speaks in a very large chunk all at once. Unless the character is telling a story or making a speech, this can be boring for the other character to sit through and difficult for the other player to reply to! Your eyes would probably glaze if someone spoke for ten or fifteen minutes straight without letting you get a word in edge-wise. Break up your dialogue between a few posts, and try not to inundate the other player with speech!
  • Avoid having multiple conversation subjects at once.
    Conversation topics usually flow naturally from one subject to another. Try to avoid discussing five different things at once. One of the easiest ways to avoid this is to not have your character speak until the other character(s) have finished speaking — of course, interruptions and breaks are also a natural part of conversation, too.

Improving dialogue can be difficult, but it can also be fun and rewarding. There are some things you can do to improve your character’s dialogue and speech:

  • Take the time to think about your character’s particular style of dictation.
    For example, an educated character might use bigger words and more complex sentences than a character intended to be a simpleton — most children won’t address their mother with, “Oh, yes, Mother. I do so agree” if they’re excited. “Yeah, mom, wow! I can’t wait!” is a bit more realistic. Many roleplayers enjoy searching for speech examples for their character — try searching YouTube videos for inspiration (interviews and movie clips are great places to go).
  • Study the way people around you speak in conversation.
    Find videos of real conversations (not movies — people rarely speak in a truly realistic manner in the movies!) and transcribe them exactly as they are, with every interruption, pause, break, and interjection. There are usually pauses, interruptions, interjections, and breaks in conversation. Real people interrupt each other and sometimes interject small words and phrases to the conversation — people rarely sit and wait for one another to finish speaking if they have something important to say, after all.
  • Speech disfluencies, facial expressions, and body language can convey more than dialogue alone.
    For example, “hmm” coupled with a troubled look and laid-back ears can convey a lot more than just “I don’t like that idea” in written speech. Note that speech disfluencies can vary by language and even culture within the same language — for example, Americans are more likely to say “um” and Brits are more likely to say “er” while some cultures have extremely different body language. Because we roleplay canines, body language and facial expressions are more similar than speech — see Essential Behavior — but there can still be minor variations between different cultures, of course.

RPGuide_03

Writing Exercises

Experimenting with Style

  • Syntax: if you normally write with short sentences, try different methods of linking sentences together (e.g. avoiding and/but/or, using dashes and semi-colons where appropriate). If you’re normally verbose, try going back over their posts and removing all unnecessary information and extra words.
  • Tone: “Tone is a literary technique that is a part of composition, which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, condescending, or many other possible attitudes.” Try to convey emotion through the feel of your writing, rather than through the content of your writing.
  • Metaphor: Metaphors provide an interesting challenge to roleplayers: engage in an extended metaphor throughout the entirety of a thread — some object or some part of the setting is metaphorical to the character’s actions. Similies can also be an important tool.
  • Diction: Your word choice can often convey a lot about the character. For example, if you’re playing a puppy character, you can try avoiding large words and substituting simpler words instead. This is especially true for speech, but can also play into non-dialogue writing, as well. Choosing your words carefully can convey added layers of meaning to your writing.

Presenting Ideas

Adapted from OWL.

  1. Take a founding moral principle, religious ideal, scentific belief, etc. of your character — for example, a knightly character’s moral obligation to assist the weak — and write a Read Only post surrounding that idea, utilizing NPC characters as necessary. “Do not state the idea at all. Your goals are two: that the idea should be perfectly clear to us so that it could be extracted as a moral or message, and that we should feel we have experienced it.”
  2. Write a Read Only thread “with one of the following themes: nakedness, blindness, thirst, noise, borders, chains, clean wounds, washing, the color green, dawn… explore everything you think, know, or believe about your chosen theme and try to incorporate that theme in imagery, dialogue, event, character, and so forth.”
  3. Write a Read Only thread describing a particular area of ‘Souls from two very different character perspectives: e.g., in Halifax: one is a character with an intense fear of humanity’s ruins, while the other is a character with an affinity for humans; in Halcyon, one is a character in a sour mood due to being kicked out of their pack, and one is a character who had always wanted to be a parent and has just learned they are pregnant. Focus not on the character’s mood and why they feel a certain way (leave this vague), but on describing the scenery — how would the different characters react differently to the same areas?

Stress and Recuperation

For many, if they write all the time, they get burned out and it’s tough to maintain motivation. This is most noticeable as an immediate and short-term side-effect of writing say, six or seven posts in a night. After a while, you just can’t really think straight and it’s hard to put words together. Your brain is tired, stressed, and doesn’t want to write anymore.

Like with most stress, this happening over a long period of time can have longer lasting negative effects. It can induce writer’s block or a complete burn-out (a period which may stretch over months where you just don’t feel up to writing at all). It’s a pretty nasty feeling!

The key thing is rest. Try to write, but don’t try to push yourself too hard. It’s really tough when you lose inspiration, but the entire world is full of things from which you can draw inspiration. Don’t freak out over activity either! NPC status exists for a reason — you can take a break if you need to. We’ll always be here when you feel up to coming back!

Inspiration Techniques

When you get into these hard-to-escape periods where you just can’t write, here are some techniques to relax yourself back into writing and roleplaying:

  • Read a book.
    Sometimes, reading another perspective, different from the typical roleplaying one, can work wonders. Read something completely different, like a high fantasy or a non-fiction work, or if you think reading something wolf-themed will help, these are some good books listed on the Wiki’s Wolf Resources.
  • Go outside!
    Real life! Highest resolution graphics! Pay attention to your surroundings and try and find some interesting stuff to do. Since ‘Souls has territories that can be found almost everywhere, including heavy urban areas and suburbia, you’ll probably be able to find places that you can go back and describe from your posts!
  • Read your old posts.
    Don’t pay attention to how “bad” your old posts seem, just try to capture some of your old energy back from your writing. Additionally, re-reading your characters’ past may inspire plans for their future.
  • Read other people’s posts.
    This is not unlike reading a book, but it can be more immediately relevant. Do you admire another roleplayer’s writing? Dig up some of their old threads or go stalk their current ones! You might find inspiration not only in their writing, but in the going-ons of their characters — maybe you can have a thread together soon?
  • Get introspective about your character.
    If you haven’t already, you can take some personality tests from your character’s perspective. What’s their Myer-Briggs type? What’s their alignment? …What Hogwarts House would they Sort into or what Game of Thrones’ house values would they most agree with? These tests generally have a lot to say about the type of person your character may be, which may inspire you to write something to confirm or contradict their assessment.

Assistance in Improving

Members are encouraged to post to the Questions and Help forum to ask for feedback. Post your character profiles, individual posts, threads, plots — you name it! This is an excellent way to get a wide variety of opinions from many different ‘Souls roleplayers.

Last updated: July 8, 2017

Further Reading