‘Souls is an advanced writing community. We like to write; we like to write well, and we like reading good writing. While no posts and no players are perfect, ‘Souls has a basic expectation of quality from its members. All players must meet a minimum standard and be able to write in English at an American high school level or above. If you are not at this level, we are more than happy to help, but you must be willing to put in the effort and want to improve.
The Importance of Proper English
Using proper English is important for two reasons:
- It’s difficult to read something with many spelling and grammar mistakes. Prioritizing readability is important in a collaborative game. If people consistently struggle to read your posts, you may have difficulty finding roleplay partners.
- Proper English is crucial for others to understand your posts. Prioritizing clarity is equally important in a collaborative game. Others are not in your perspective and may misinterpret your posts, and this can lead to big mix-ups!
This definitely extends beyond just roleplaying — if others struggle to parse your thread requests or Private Messages, they may not reply or you may struggle to understand each other.
- No textspeak, chatspeak, or shorthand. It’s not hard to hit an extra two keys and turn “u” into “you.” If you can’t do that, we’re going to ask that you learn before joining ‘Souls!
- Improper grammar is bad. Yes, we all make mistakes, but it is difficult to roleplay with someone whose writing we can’t understand. There are numerous grammar resources* available!
*Beware of grammar checkers: they’re a decent starting point, but generally don’t have great accuracy.
- Improper spelling is inexcusable. Maybe a missed homophone now and again is okay, but with so many spellcheck options these days? There is really no excuse.
- The ‘Souls Word Counter has a spellcheck included.
- Dictionary.com provides suggestions for improperly spelled words.
- So does Google.
- Microsoft Word has a spell checker. So does Open Office.
- SpellCheck.net does it for free.
- Quite a few modern browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome, provide a built-in spellcheck.
- We understand that English may not be everyone’s first language, and while we encourage you to try, standards are standards. If your English is incomprehensible, it’s likely we won’t be able to communicate well enough to offer help. It is your job to try to reach a level where we can understand you and vice versa. If you can do that, there will likely be many members willing to help you improve from there! Don’t be discouraged — ‘Souls has many international members with great English!
Use third-person perspective and past tense to write your posts.
‘Souls adheres to this traditional play-by-post roleplaying format. It is confusing and awkward when players use other tenses and perspectives, such as first-person or present tense. Remember: third-person (he, she; not I) in the past tense (walked, howled; not walks, howls).
English is the common tongue in the ‘Souls universe, but many characters do speak other languages, including Spanish, French, and Russian. Your roleplaying should always be written in English, but it’s permissible to include dialogue in other languages.
If you choose to include non-English dialogue, it’s common courtesy to include a translation, whether in the OOC portion of your post, or by using hover text. This way, your roleplay partner and other readers can hover over the foreign text to see the English translation.
It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that some languages with non-Latin character sets (как русский) will not render properly on all devices, and that hover text does not show up on mobile devices.
“Cet idiot ne sait pas de quoi il parle,” Bob said dismissively. He glanced sideways at his brother a moment before looking back to the trader, scowling. “Tell me again, your wares,” he demanded. “How did you obtain?”
The simplest practice for foreign dialogue is to simply write it in English, while including italics, brackets, or some other indicator to denote that it’s another language. Often, this can be written directly into the prose, too.
<<“This idiot doesn’t know what he’s talking about,”>> Bob said dismissively in French. He glanced sideways at his brother a moment before looking back to the trader, scowling. “Tell me again, your wares,” he demanded in English. “How did you obtain?”
If you aren’t sure how long to make your posts, a good rule is to match your roleplaying partner’s posts per turn.
It’s widely suggested to strive for 200 words (two to three paragraphs) per post, but this is not a strict minimum. Length isn’t everything — what you put into your posts is a more important. For example, in fighting threads: some players prefer short, action-oriented posts! On the other hand, it can be hard to reply when an opening post is too short.
Remember: responding to a post consisting of two short, simple sentences is difficult. It is extremely unlikely such a short post conveys enough information to formulate a response. Give the other player enough to work with.
Making a Short Post Longer
If you’re having trouble beefing up a short post, we suggest the following:
- Describe the scenery. Description of the surroundings can provide a hefty paragraph and can be very useful to your writing partner. Where is your character? What can they see? What time of day is it? Is it warm? Cold? Windy? Sunny? Again, ‘Souls provides numerous resources for a reason — check them out and refer back to them!
- Describe your character. While no one wants to read several paragraphs of character description, a few words here and there are a great way to add some length to your post and help other roleplayers to envision your character as they write, assisting them with details! For example, if your Luperci wears a necklace, perhaps they play with that necklace as they’re seated, or perhaps your character wears a bright red sash that sways and flaps as they walk.
- Replace a few pronouns. It can be boring to read a post where every sentence begins with “she” or “he” — try occasionally replacing your pronouns with short, descriptive phrases. For example, “the white wolf” or “the AniWayan” or “the Optime wolf.” You just turned one word into three and helped the other player to describe your character. Try to vary these and see what you can come up with.
- Describe how your character is feeling and why. Are they morose for a particular reason? Are they happy for some reason? What are they thinking about? Elaborate on this and you may find you have to cut yourself short!
- Reinforce feelings with action. If your character said something, describe their tone of voice, facial expression, or body language. For example, an irritated Optime might cross their arms and narrow their eyes; a happy Lupus might wag their tail. This RP Guide provides various resources regarding wolf behavior — incorporate these wolfish actions to accentuate the way your character is feeling.
‘Souls does not have a maximum word count. However, a 2,000 word post is extremely time-consuming for other roleplayer to read, and as it’s likely filled with introspection or other thought-based text, it can be difficult to respond to.
Brevity in Writing
If you think what you’ve written is way too long, here are some pruning tips:
- Recommend reader skips. Long-winded roleplayers will often, upon writing a monstrously long post (700+ words), note that certain paragraphs are “skippable.” These paragraphs are introspective or irrelevant to their roleplaying partner.
- Snip and save. If you’re really attached to a particular paragraph but you’ve realized your post is excessively long, you can cut it and save it for another post later. Make sure you update the snipped paragraph to reflect the new situation when you post it.
- Avoid repeating yourself. Re-read the thread to make sure you’re not repeating something from before. You can also snip common phrases and unnecessary words, especially ones you repeat.
- Avoid excessive introspection. This is especially easy to do with thoughts where a character will ramble on and on with what they’re thinking, their past, their relationships with other people, etc. Read through it — is all of that really necessary?
- Avoid irrelevant subjects. This goes hand in hand with the previous. If your character is discussing a book, does he really need to also be thinking about last night’s dinner? Or if he’s in a fight with someone, does he really need to be contemplating about how nice and sunny it is?
- Less detail or more focused detail. Sometimes describing the precise colors of the landscape or the exact location of your character is not necessary. Think about what other roleplayers want to read, too! Think about the situation, too — if your character is involved in a fast-paced, exciting situation, it probably doesn’t make sense to have a lot of introspection or reflection details in your post.
Writing for Roleplay
Define the weather, area, and time of day. Thread settings are extremely important, and it’s important for players share a perspective on the setting. Check the current weather in the area you’re roleplaying in — you don’t have to adhere to real life conditions exactly, but it can be a good starting point if you’re stuck. Check the territory’s board description, or check the Areas page of the Wiki for even more information. Dedicated roleplayers can even check the Flora and Fauna guides to ensure referenced animals or materials actually live/grow in an area!
Define your character’s mood, appearance, and action. What is your character doing? How are they feeling? Is there anything different about their appearance today? What Luperci form are they in? If you’re threading in a forest, is your character simply standing there between the trees, or are they walking around or sitting down?
Give the other player action. Have your character speak! Have your character move! Have something happen in your post and give the other player something to write about. Even if your character doesn’t do something directly, something can change in the scenery that gives everyone something to do.
This is useful if the thread seems to be stagnating, but neither of you wants to end it yet. For example, if your characters are sitting around a fire, your character could note that the fire is getting low, prompting someone to fetch more wood. If it was noted earlier in the thread that it was raining, the rain could increase greatly in intensity, or it could stop altogether. Other small changes regarding scenery and the like can change up the flow of a thread without completely interrupting its purpose.
If you want to throw something at a player that’s completely out of left field though (suddenly a bear appears!), make sure you check with them first to make sure they don’t mind!