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Old 04-08-2004, 07:02 PM   #1
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I think some people are just better writers than others. I know I am not one of those people. To all the good people who read this board, I ask you one question. How do you get better at writing.

I'm really asking this because of this. I love to play online RP games. I've been playing on and off for about 3 years and now I know why I can't stick to it. Some games I leave because the RP isn't really what I was looking for. But I have found 2-3 games that I truely enjoy, but because I think my writing (and my roleplay for that matter) isn't that good. I can come up with all types of different characters, but in the end they all seem the same. They all seem to have the same way of moving, talking, etc. I owe this all to my lack of writing skills.

I love tabletops RPGs. Mainly because I think I am an animated person. Acting things out is sort of natural to me. I talk with my hands alot and use different voices. But online, I feel like I all my characters are one dimentional.

Most people suggest that I read more books. I already read for fun and for school. Some suggest just write down what ever comes to mind. That doesn't work much either. Can you all suggest anything else.
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Old 04-08-2004, 08:05 PM   #2
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This might not be what you want to hear, but: read more and practice more. Those are really the only two things that help you become a better writer.

You can try taking a class in writing (if you are either in college or near a college) or reading books about writing. That might help some. But studying good examples and practicing yourself are really the best methods.

I think it is also important to keep in mind that even for good writers top notch stuff just doesn't come flying off their fingertips at will (well, in most cases it doesn't). Writing is work and often you have to wrestle with a word, a sentence, or a paragraph for hours or days to make it right. Don't get discouraged because you can't write beautiful prose the first time you sit down to write something.
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Old 04-08-2004, 08:34 PM   #3
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One of the exercises that we used in a writing course I took was to consciously imitate other writers. It was a non-fiction course, so we were imitating the likes of Orwell, Dillard, Didion and some others. It was fun and educational. If you're not reading writers with distinguishable enough styles that you can tell them apart, therein might lie your problem.

As for trying to make your PC's dialogue, actions and motivations different, try to make charicatures of real life people. While they might be a little one dimensional, and even annoying, at first (a guy who is driven by nothing but his libido, the girl who is a complete snobby bitch, the illiterate buffoon, the drunken bumbler), they can help you practice some different styles and experiment with different personalities. They might even surprise you in the ways they come to life and begin to flesh themselves out if you stick with them.
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Old 04-08-2004, 10:23 PM   #4
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In addition to the suggestions above, which are good ones, I want to add this. Edit! Editing is not as applicable to rp as it is to prose, of course. But if you write, then you need to learn to be your own editor. Writing is a task that requires both sides of your brain. The first draft is the right brain. The first draft is all about creativity. Subsequent drafts are about turning your brilliant thoughts from garbage to art.

Of course, you don't get to do a second draft in text games, however, if you get in the habit of looking critically at what you write it does carry over.

Finally, addressing the issue of how to keep each pc different, you might want to try lists. Make lists of what qualities keep cropping up. Then make a conscious decision about what will be different about whatever character you play next. Keep the list small. If your list is three pages, it will be difficult to keep track. If your list has one focus, or two, you can concentrate on the change you are looking to make. Often having one large change is enough to effect other smaller changes.
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Old 04-08-2004, 10:35 PM   #5
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I'm sorry, one more thought. I think a class or workshop is crucial to immerging writers. Writing and reading are not sufficient, (which is not to say that they are not crucial they are. Non-readers will never be great writers. Those who do not practice will never be great writers.) I tremble at the thought of disagreeing with Threshold who may come after me and flame me into a small hard charcoal brickette, but I do disagree. Here is why:

Writing is a craft. Not all aspects of the craft are intuitive (if they were there would be fewer lousy writers.) Think of it as painting. Let's say as a child someone gave you a box of watercolors. In time you might become a great painter of watercolor paintings, but where would you learn about oils? Tempura? Various artistic periods? How would you grow as a painter?

Learning the craft teaches you what tools are available to you. Maybe in time you choose to go back to your watercolors, but then it is a choice, not the only thing you know.

Finally, the reason why reading alone is not enough to make great writers, is because you have to understand what you are looking for to read as a writer, instead of a reader. When you read only for enjoyment, it's easier to be saited if we do not read critically, if we just let got and let the story happen. When reading as a writer, or reading critically, we do not surrender to the story, but evaluate the choices the writer made. We ask ourselves, how did this writer apply his craft. To ask that question, we need to know what the elements of craft are.
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Old 04-09-2004, 01:00 AM   #6
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Increase your vocabulary in a couple of ways:

Read the dictionary. I don't mean - look for one interesting word. I mean actually read the whole thing, from A to Z. Keep a copy in your bathroom and just flip through the pages. Learn words you didn't even think to look for before.

Add a "reverse" dictionary to your bookshelf and reference it often.

Include in your reading material the Oxford Dictionary of Famous Quotes. It has some of the BEST material for text games in existence.

Don't look at this stuff online (though you should definitely have bookmarked). Buy the actual books and read them. You wil retain the information much more efficiently.
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