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RolePlay 101

RolePlay 101: The Importance of Words

So, it’s been some time since last I posted in the RolePlay 101 series. Far too long, I reckon. Well, previously we discussed what RolePlay is, but before we begin anything else, let us think on the importance of words.

It is with noble sentiments that bad literature gets written.

André Gide says it pretty well here: We sometimes want to focus on the aspects of RolePlaying aside from the literary, which is perfectly acceptable. Yet, it does sometimes mean our writing suffers as a result. So, we must be entirely certain that we make words just as important as everything else.

Why?

Communication and understanding. To put it in a nutshell. As writers engaging in a collaborative effort to write a story, it is of utmost importance that we all understand what it is the other has written. How else can we expect the next person who posts to understand what just happened, and then continue the story in a coherent manner? Can we at all?

But remember also that we write not only for ourselves, as a RolePlayer, and our group of writers; but also for people who may be reading what we have spent valuable time and effort in creating. That’s an important fact to remember, one we often forget – even myself.

So…

Be sure to write in a way that makes sense, follows a logic that most can understand, and most importantly, make it an enjoyable read. What are the easiest ways to do that?

  • Spelling: Spell your words out in full. There’s no need for ‘txt-tlk’ at all. I know that, perhaps, it will save you a quarter of a second here or there, but not everyone uses the same ‘code’ for writing shorthand. This means that your readers may have to spend a few minutes deciphering exactly what you mean; this will detract from the post itself – meaning your actions, narrative, character development etc could quite easily go unnoticed.
  • Grammar and Punctuation: Grammar – which includes punctuation – adds to the meaning of your words. Emphasis can be placed in certain areas through punctuation, grammar and sentence structure can help convey the feeling of your character and their mindset or personality of your character better than the words themselves sometimes. Now, I don’t know the origin of this, but Miyumi quoted the following on RolePlay Gateway:

    Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours? Gloria

    And, in comparison (also from the same quote):

    Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? Yours, Gloria

    Notice, if you will, firstly that the words and their order are identical. Then take note of the entirely different meaning and tone. That’s the importance of grammar.

In Conclusion

The above two points are only the very basics of the importance of words. Utilising the above will certainly put you soundly on your way to creating exciting, gripping and easily read, easily played RolePlays.

I know a lot of new RolePlayers, and young writers, feel that spelling and grammar are unimportant when RolePlaying, as this is ‘only the internet’ and just some harmless fun. We need to remember, though, that just as the writing is collaborative, so too is the fun made by each of us working together. A lack of understanding, like trying to decipher post-graduate algebra, can take the fun away. Unless you’re a mathematician with a post-graduate degree.

Help is Available Though

No-one expects each RolePlayer to have perfect spelling and grammar, or to be able to maintain a high level at all times. We all make mistakes, which is perfectly fine. The following tools and methods can help you improve, though.

  • Word Processors: Microsoft Word, or any other word processor with a spelling and grammar check will make sure that most errors are removed from your posts. Type your posts first there, and copy/paste into your forum.
  • Mozilla Firefox: This awesome, free, web browser has built-in spell checkers though (as far as I’m aware) no grammar checker. Its default is American English, but you can easily install most languages, meaning it doesn’t matter in what language you are writing (unless made up), you know you’re spelling things correctly. It can be downloaded here.
  • Proof Reading: Read through what you’ve written after you’re finished and before you hit ‘Submit.’ You will likely spot errors. Then read it aloud, you’ll notice grammar and punctuation mistakes. Read it once more. Then maybe let a friend or family member read your post – they’ll notice things you may have missed. Now you can hit the ‘Submit’ button with a secure knowledge that your post makes sense and is easily read.
  • Time and Effort: Writing a 500-word post in five minutes may well mean you have a pretty decent typing speed, but likely you’re going lack the quality of someone who takes ten, or even fifteen minutes to write the same amount. If you’re going to write something, do it well. People can generally see when effort has been made, and they will respect that from you. Spending a little extra time, making that bit more effort, will also make your work all the better.
Lord Saladin is an experienced veteran RolePlayer and wordsmith, and long-time tutor of RolePlay and writing. He runs his own proof-reading business and has been published on several websites for his articles about sales and business.

Discussion

4 comments for “RolePlay 101: The Importance of Words”

  1. Oh my gosh, you have no idea have true this thing is! I, myself, see the same mistakes all the time and its infuriating. Words can create the tone- feel of the character. Inside of saying “he walked 2 hr, Is gleaming with luv.” Its much better to say: “He ran towards his love, embracing her.” And its very good to build up the post and not go: “He walked through the forest, then rebounded off a tree.” I mean, it makes no sense.

    Posted by Salena | January 23, 2010, 7:57 pm
  2. While I agree with this on about a 95% basis, I feel that a few things are missing from it. While I understand these are the ‘basics of the basics’, I am a little fretful that you have only really stressed upon grammatical and lexical knowledge and its importance. There is an underlying necessity that others tend to forget, and it is the “flat post”, or the post without dynamic. On top of a broad lexical understanding, and a solid grammatical foundation, roleplay requires one to be imaginative in their writing. . . Not just in character creation, but how they write. The way that you describe something also affects the tonality as much as punctuating in right. This doesn’t necessarily rely on knowing a lot of words, but being artistic enough to put them together. While this does depend on the style of roleplaying, every player should have a clean balance of ACTION and DESCRIPTION. I have noticed far too often that posts are either heavily descriptive with very little to respond to in any practical sense, or far too filled with action that it’s utterly boring to read because of the lack of imagery. This is really where you want to spend your ‘extra time’. Generally, if you run a post through MS Word, it should catch MOST of your mistakes, and the few that may be left aren’t anything that will bother anybody. This takes a whole of three seconds, honestly. Most of the time you spend with your post should be making it sound nice, fun to read, easy and fluid, et cetera. All of this has to do with words and language, and is entirely relevant, really. More or less, I feel like while the basics are listed here, the actual purpose of their application (aside from the great punctuation example) is not illustrated. Many posts I’ve read have had great grammar, punctuation, and a diverse vocabulary—sometimes OBNOXIOUSLY diverse, the kind where you have to grab a dictionary because somebody got word-happy with theirs, yet their post is still utterly atrocious because they have no understanding of how to APPLY their fundamentals. I’ve had an epiphany for a new article!

    Posted by Ava | February 6, 2010, 6:05 am
  3. What?? What, do you. Mean my txt iz hard 2 rd?? This is RP, should not no. matter. lol

    Just kidding, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve lost a lot of interest in roleplaying games due to lack of unintelligible posts (and players). One of my biggest pet peeves is the use of “txt speak”, I HATE that ridiculous, English slaughtering vocabulary that is such a common thing nowadays. People that use it, look so ignorant it’s not even funny.

    Posted by Dan | November 17, 2010, 7:02 am
  4. Ava, that is exactly what I am looking for. I want to expand my vocabulary and be more discriptive but not choke others with it. I get bored easily if I pull out a dictionary, yet I do try. I have a friend that is so discriptive and her typing is so wonderful or at least I think so. Anyways, I want to enhance my ability by alot yet I can never figure out a word or group of words I need. When I pull out my Thesaraus my mind goes blank.

    Posted by Tab | December 2, 2012, 3:48 am

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