What Happened to Secrets and Subtleties?? D:

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Sarre, Nov 24, 2014.

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  1. Note, this post is
    40% me ranting (slightly judgementally)
    30% guide
    20% bad examples of bad things
    10% Caps lock and bold font

    Why are people so EAGER to TELL so much? Am I the only one that believes in the essential mystery, playfulness, and trolling surprise in an rp?

    I believe that rp is a dance between two storytellers; A chess game of storytelling.
    and of course, there is the collaborative writing part, which is important but not as relevant to this guide-rant-thing.

    We all know that the first few posts in an rp will be the longest just because of the requirement of setting the scene; but then there are the introduction posts in which 40 - 90% of the character's backstory and personality and all the things that should be DISCOVERED are just THERE.

    (overdramatised example:)
    "John woke up and washed the dishes. He was a generic sloppy teenager, and never cared to deal with them at night. This perhaps stemmed from the recent murders of his parents, from the cloaked man with red hair. Every time he picked up and old shirt, or sponged away grease and crumbs, he reminded himself of his hate, and of the hunt, for John was not a forgiving person. He held grudges, and this was his biggest. The man who killed his parents would pay for it, no matter how many people told him he couldn't handle them. Whenever they said something like that, he would just spit in their faces and walk away."

    You just PERMANENTLY ANNIHILATED all of these wonderful moments in the OOC:
    "Why aren't his parents home? Where are they? o.O"
    "Wow... John is a little morose..."
    "LOL that mess..."
    "OH... omg he's bitter because he lost his parents! Aw! D:"
    "WTF John is so fucking RUDE D:<"

    PLUS you will run out of facts about your characters very quickly shortening your posts to empty 2-line actions within 3-4 posts; or you will be forced to drag in more characters or more frivolous problems so that you can do interactions within your own posts just to keep things happening. You will rely on action for plot, because all of your mystery is now DEAD. SPOILERED.
    It is as if you just took all the important parts of a movie and condensed it all into 5 minutes, put it in the front and then expected the audience to watch that and still sit through two hours of all the other stuff.

    And soon both of you will run out of things to reveal (which would be like, what, ten posts?) and all the new problems and plot twists and new characters will seem repetitive because there is nothing new in your main characters. Guess what? YOUR RP JUST DIED.
    Unless, y'know. You want to go on making contrived plot holes and random new characters. If that doesn't bore you... idk it bores me.

    Not that I have a thing against lots of characters. Lots of characters is great, IF THEY EXIST TO DEVELOP YOUR MAIN CHARACTER. New characters should not be instant main characters! Sometimes if they are lucky they can slowly gain importance, and BECOME main characters. If they conveniently APPEAR when you run out of things to write, and then promptly become another MAIN character, it is usually painfully obvious, and your original main character suddenly becomes less interesting because DUH there's nothing more to say about them. It was all covered in a few posts at the beginning. Now all they have are their reactions.

    Kay. Now the helpful part.

    -Art is always more engaging when SHOWN not TOLD.
    -Art is always more engaging when not 100% of the information is displayed. (Otherwise you are assuming your audience is an idiot.) Things are more interesting when the viewer/reader/audience is allowed to take the last step by themselves.

    Some more examples for this SHOW vs TELL thing:

    "You'll just have to move on," Annie said, her innocent words making John furious, but he tried to hide it, hunching over the dishes. "Everyone loses their parents. It happens." That threw him over the edge, so he threw the plate at the wall only a few feet from Annie's head.

    "He listened to Annie. "You'll just have to move on," she said softly. He shrugged and shifted his focus on the grimy dishes, and the patterns of his own breathing. "Everyone loses their parents," Annie continued. "It happens."

    Without a word, John jerked his body away from the sink and hurled a ceramic plate at the wall. It shattered only a few feet away from where she was leaning her head.

    ^ No use of the words "furious, angry, temper" or any of that is used, but you JUST GET IT. You SEE John's face, and I didn't even mention facial expressions. It is more creative writing, less essay writing. And if, in every post, John was written in this suppressive, quiet, brooding, tone, then you are presenting his character without presenting any facts whatsoever! Things can SHIFT and it won't be jarring.

    Not to say you have to do everything by showing; some things are indeed better told. The point is to INCREASE show, DECREASE tell. If you have more tell than show, then there is a problem and your writing is probably really stagnant.

    One thing that showing does, in the long term, is set traps! Foreshadowing! It slows things down. Shakespeare did not start his plays with "Hamlet's greatest weakness was _____." No, it takes a story, and in the end the story is great because we did not know how bad his problems were, how much they would change things, and ultimately when everyone dies, it is not only "OH SHIT ;A;" but also depressingly unsurprising if you ponder it.

    The biggest WEAKNESSES/STRENGTHS/FEARS (whatever the most intense, important feelings are) of your character are what can drive their plot. In John it is probably resentment, anger, revenge, and etc. DO NOT REVEAL THIS IN ONE SENTENCE IN YOUR FIRST POST. Show it, subtly, then more so, in every post that you write. Set traps, spring them later. Have fun with your rp buddies. You are hearing and poking at each other's stories, and twisting them to fit into one beautiful thing, and all of this is playing.

    I probably break some these guidelines during my off-days, or during the faster, lighter, funnier bits in an rp where you are inclined not to try as hard because it's not "srs bsns." But just KNOWING this will improve your writing for when you really are trying!

    I am also going to mention in here that this is the same reason why I hate needing to present really detailed character sheets. They practically force you to TELL EVERYTHING, and even BEFORE the first post! (Usually I just get rid of all the most important things and fill it with random details and hope nobody gets angry when surprises happen, which probably kills the point of a character sheet.)

    Another very important thing: ALL GUIDELINES CAN BE BROKEN. I am sure great authors exist that have taken my opinions and trampled them to dust and still made something great anyway. Despite the fervor in this guide, it is still an opinion, and can be broken; if you are aware you are breaking it.

    Lastly, I am usually much nicer and much more mellow because I don't like confrontations and arguing (met too many people that couldn't take constructive crits and got offended and made me sad), but somehow the general-ness of the people I am addressing here has liberated me! If you are offended please go away and don't yell at me or I will be intimidated and avoid you. (But if you would like to politely debate that is fine.)
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  2. I completely agree with this. People rush too much to reveal too much information too fast. It's more like making an amateurish book than truly flourishing a story.

    Hell - honestly, a vast majority of RPs on here right now feel like they belong in two categories: RPing for the sake of RPing, with very little goal or direction (and most of the time that direction is writing out personal fantasies), and writing out things simply so that you have an audience to expose your thoughts to.

    In a good RP, even the GM isn't going to be entirely sure where the story will go or end. It's not a single person giving people a tour of a story and universe - it's a collaborative creation of everything.
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