I can hear you all groan. An English lesson? Yes! Now quit complaining, this stuff is important if you really want a good RP. Remember, other people who are interested in playing with you might read your RPs and judge your style, skill and level based on what they see. If they see crap, they’re gonna think you’re a crap player!
That’s not to say that people who don’t have English as their native language shouldn’t role play in English. In fact, I think most of the foreigners I’ve RP’d with have had better English than some allegedly English First Language players. Also, hardly anyone on RP forums is exactly the grammar and spelling police. Just be aware of a few things so that you can improve your style.
So, since this is an ABSOLUTE N00B guide, I think this is the time when we should address the body of an RP. The text itself! That is the paragraphs, the sentences and the layout. So quiet. Teacher is talking.
For those of you who write more than one line in a reply, you will need to think about paragraphs. Breaking up long posts into paragraphs helps to focus each thought into one section. It also helps the reader follow along when the topic changes slightly. Besides, when all text is bunched up together, readers (and partners) get lazy to wade through the ocean of letters and words. They give up. And the last thing you want is a partner who gives up! Too many great RPs are dropped for lesser reasons than this, so don’t let your RP be consigned to the same fate.
See? I’ve started a new paragraph because I have a new thought! And the thought is about sentences. Long, run-on sentences that never seem to end and have little or no punctuation but require the reader to swim through all the words and assume tone levels and meanings from very little information because you give them very little information without punctuation so it is very difficult for your partners so don’t do it.
That was a long run-on sentence! Deep breaths, now please. A better version would be like this:
Long, run-on sentences often have little or no punctuation, and require the reader to swim through all the words. They must assume meanings, tones and levels from very little information. Punctuation adds information and levels to your sentence. Without punctuation, it’s very difficult for your partners. Don’t do it!
By, the same token don’t just, put punctuation. Anywhere you. Like! It has to have meaning. There is a very concise and simple guide on Correct Punctuation and I recommend you familiarise yourself with the punctuation marks discussed in the left hand column of that page. Specifically the comma, termination marks and quotation marks. You’ll use these the most during a written role play.
I recommend you get into the habit of reading your posts out loud before submitting them. If your natural inclination is to put a pause or take a breath somewhere, put a comma there so that your partner, upon reading, will also pause at that spot. If you, put a, comma, after every, word, you’ll find, your partner, hasn’t a clue what, your, talking about. So know where to put your punctuation, and use it as it was meant to be used!
As a tip for quotation marks: – Direct speech is most often in double quotation marks like “this.” If your character is talking, use this type. However, if your character is thinking, and you’d like to quote their thoughts directly, it helps to differentiate these internal thoughts from out loud speech by using single quotations and italics. ‘Like this.‘
Also notice that your termination mark usually goes INSIDE the quotations marks.
About Layout I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been covered. Remember what we said about paragraphs and breaking up long posts into segments. This is ALWAYS a good idea!
Another good layout tip is to put direct speech (the stuff between “_”) in a new paragraph for each person.
“Don’t put your hand on the stove,” said Jack. “It’ll burn you!” “But I want to!” said Jill. “I just want to test it.”
Rather split Jill’s line onto a new paragraph, like this: –
“Don’t put your hand on the stove,” Jack warned. “It’ll burn you!”
“But I want to!” said Jill. “I just want to test it.”
This separation makes the reading much easier on the eyes, and it makes it more obvious who is speaking at the time.
All of the above does seem like a lot to say about something seemingly minor like punctuation and paragraphs. But keep in mind that your partners are only human. And when they see something just looks difficult or complex they tend to not bother. Make it as easy as possible to navigate through long posts.