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Writing advice

Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:08 pm
by Praetonia
Here I re-post two good articles from the old forum.

Re: Writing advice

Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:10 pm
by Praetonia
By me, 2011:

I'm aware that the number of active threads has slowly been dropping, and some of you have contacted me about this privately. First, I should say that I don't think there is any danger of the site 'dying', as a few of you have suggested. The number of people who view the site has remained about constant, and most are on IRC and will continue to be, and are very active there. Following the initial excitement of a new site, it is merely reverting to the norm in Haven and Gholgoth - a large site population that is semi-active, not going anywhere, but simply waiting for something to happen.

I think this is a fixable problem and one we should try to fix. I have a few suggestions that I think would go a long way to doing so:

Be Bold - If nothing is going on, start something rather than waiting for others to do so. Try to start something that others can get involved in, and that will have some impact on the wider game. A good example is Quiberon, a country that could have been quite bland, but by adding the anglo/french quarrel has been able to create an interesting active RP and become a wild card in the alliance dynamic as well. If all else fails, start something like the train RP that can take in characters from anyone and doesn't much depend on which country it is set in. At the moment there are major regions - the whole far West and East, and the North of the central continent - that have a lot of countries with active (in the sense of reading the site and being on IRC) players, that nonetheless have not been involved in any RPs since the site began.

Be Brief - Enormous posts are sometimes necessary, and occasionally good, but usually not. They are intimidating to write and read. When people have to write thousands of words to stay in an RP it tends to slow down and attract fewer players. Try to write no more than 500-1,000 words at a time, that concisely advance the story in some substantial manner, unless there is some particular reason to write more (or it's genuinely very engaging to read). In my experience the most enjoyable RPs are the ones where people can make a number of posts and replies over the course of just a few hours they're online, like the train RP. I don't know how achievable this is for big political events like the alliance wars, but it is at least something to aim for.

Focus on the Big Picture - There has always been a tendency, particularly in anything to do with war, to spell out every minute detail. Sometimes this is interesting and contributes to the story, for instance by giving a backdrop to one's characters. But often it boils down to trying to shoot first in every engagement, to parry every opponent's blow in the most efficient possible manner, etc. and contributes only to bloat posts with boring prose (see: 90% of what is written on II). While broad strategic actions have to be specifically described, on the micro scale we should simply assume that both ourselves and other players' characters take reasonably competent actions, commensurate to their IC skill.

Be Consistent - I think it would be good for everyone to aim to make at least one (short) post every week or so. If you don't have a thread to post on, start one! I realise I've hardly been doing that myself up to now, but I will certainly try to in future.

Re: Writing advice

Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:11 pm
by Praetonia
By Questers, 2013:

Make your posts CRAP

1. Make your posts Concise, Relevant and Pithy. There's no advantage in a post being longer than it needs to be. There's no advantage to saying what does not need to be said. Posts do not need to be Literary to be good, but they do need to get across to people the essence of what is occurring without being boring.

2. Grammar. Please make sure you use punctuation. If you are going to misuse is then do so intentionally and with reason. Commas exist because they separate clauses. All text is read, so punctuation is required to make threads read fluently. Most people on SMS have very accurate grammar. Some do not.

3. Know what you want to say and say it. A post should, above all, have a point. So long as it has a point it can be as long or short as it needs to be to get that point across. What is there to consider about points?
a. Does this post move the story from one point to the next, OR does it aid in giving off an image of the present situation in the story?
b. Does the post make this point clear? This does not necessarily need to be artistic, but does this point aid the immersion of your story into the SMS world?
c. Does the point add to the story in the above ways, or is it made only to satiate some form of inspiration? If you are inspired, then you should post. However you should use that inspiration to get across a point that advances the story, not just to create a fantasy you have dreamed up.

4. Be accurate. I don't mean that you should post statwank, quite the opposite. I mean to say that your speech, terminology, and context ought to be immersive in the sense that it is not wildly unbelievable. We are trying to make an immersive story, not a Hollywood film.

[there followed five examples of good SMS posts, but the links obviously no longer work]