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A lot of people love to roleplay. I love to roleplay. I remember when Dungeons & Dragons first came out and blew the world open with the idea that adults could "pretend" just like kids. I have been roleplaying for nearly 30 years and was part of one tabletop campaign that lasted 15 years. Yes, that's real time, not game time. I have recently begun forum-based roleplay and enjoy it.

I started writing before I became a roleplayer. I devoured fiction as a teen and wrote non-stop during my highschool years. I was lucky to be schooled on how to write properly and I practiced, joined writer's groups, got critique, and practiced more. I believe I had a firm base to help me develop as a writer. Granted, even though my early days were writing fan-fiction, they were stand-alone stories. My roleplaying was "live-action" as we didn't have forums or chats to post RP threads on.

Nowadays things are different. For many people, roleplay is their first foray into writing. Is that a bad thing? No. It's simply the changing dynamics of the world. However, what is a bad thing is that many writers feel that if they are good at writing in roleplays, they will be great literature writers. That's simply not true.

If you started your writing life as a roleplayer, are you doomed? No, there are many positives to writing in a roleplaying environment. Interaction with other creative individuals is always a plus. Writing regularly, even in forum game threads, is good practice and will help you get more comfortable with the written word. Roleplaying is storytelling and it can help you learn how to work out ideas, characters, and plots. However, at the end of the day, you have to remember there are some fundamental differences in the two mediums; there are things you need to keep in mind when transitioning from roleplay fiction to writing short stories and novels.

So what are those things? Here are a few of the more important ones to help point you in the right direction:

Before I go any further, I want to stress something. I am NOT suggesting that all roleplays operate the same. I know some are succinct and have more formal writing-like structure. Please don't get upset and feel I am attacking you. These are general observations I have made from participating in roleplays, reading many different RPs, and talking to numerous roleplayers.

Roleplaying is a Game Environment: This is something that is often not fully understood. It is collective storytelling, but there is a game element to it. Sometimes directly, with the use of dice and rules. Sometimes indirectly with players vaulting surprises or challenges for the next player to get around. While there is a story going on, there is still an element of fun, and forgiveness. If the story takes a wrong turn, everyone can laugh it off and get it back on track. Writing general fiction is not so forgiving. If your story takes a wrong turn, you lose readers. You can't expect your readers to just roll with poor moves or story deficiencies. In a roleplay you can brush aside a plot hole. In literature, you can't.

Roleplaying is a "Kinda" Collaboration: This is something that I think confuses a lot of people. Yes, roleplaying is collaborative storytelling, but it not the same as collaborating on a story. Roleplaying encourages "make it up as you go along" storytelling, which is not always effective for formal stories. Plotting and story-planning, at least to some degree, are important. While some RPs promote more formal planning, the element of surprise is part of the appeal of roleplays. Particularly in a large gaming environment, an "anything goes" attitude can be taken. That can work in a roleplay, but doesn't often work well in regular fiction.

Another aspect of roleplays is that everyone owns their own characters and you shouldn't do anything that would affect another character (without their permission). In general writing, you need to think and work with all the characters. Even in a collaboration with another writer, you need to have some liberty so that the story advances. The key is the story, not "you messed up my character." When you are working on a formal collaboration, you have to remember that this isn't a game, but actual storytelling.

Collaborations can be a great and rewarding experience. Many writers coming out of a roleplay environment find it's easier to collaborate at first until they get their solo feet wet. The key to remember is that you can't view the collaboration like a big roleplay. Work together, work out issues, compromise, write each others' characters. Yes, it's great to have fun, but take the project seriously. The goal should be to have a well-written story at the end.

You Can't Ask for a Hint: You know in video games, where you can often ask for a hint to solve the game? In a roleplay, when you get stuck on a scene, it's easy to ask another player for help, or have them take their turn early to write past the trouble spot. That's not how traditional writing works. You need to figure out your own story. It's fine to ask a more experienced writer for feedback or bounce ideas off of a friend. But at the end of the day, YOU need to write the next scene. If an artist can't draw an arm correctly on a picture, they don't go and ask someone else to do it. It is not proper to ask someone else to write a scene for you. It's your story, claim ownership.

Show, Don't Tell: This is something that I feel is one of the biggest misconceptions between roleplaying and writing literature. One problem seen in many stories is the excessive use of infodumps and long verbose descriptions. In certain roleplays, it is important to get detailed. Describing a room might be necessary as the players need to operate in there. When you find a box, you may need to note every item inside, so the next player can know what their options are. While in the game these types of details are often crucial, in a novel they would be boring. Long descriptions, particularly when the information is not pertinent to the story, can cause your reader to lose interest. The same goes for character descriptions, clothing, etc. In certain gaming environments, it's okay and fun to indulge a bit and write about a character's looks and wardrobe. In a literature piece, such descriptions take away from the pacing of the story.

Character Sheets Don't Make a Character: One of the elements in roleplaying is the creation of an original character ("OC") for use in the game. It can be a lot of fun drawing up a sheet, working on a character's design and attributes. While you can use some of these same types of things for creation of characters for a traditional story, you have to remember, you have a different goal in mind. Character development is far more complex than just knowing what they look like and their history. Many roleplay characters are designed to be generic and/or work in a specific gaming universe. When you are writing a short piece or novel, the character needs to work within that story. Simply creating an OC and then writing a piece around them is possible, but it's not always the best way to do things. While it's natural to want to have cool OCs, you need to remember there is more to a good character than a fancy profile sheet.

More than Just Talk: Some roleplays, particular live chat-based ones, can often consist of a lot of dialogue. While that is great when you have several players actively participating in an RP, that doesn't often work in traditional writing. Many writers who are only familiar with this kind of roleplay turn to pseudo "script-writing," as it allows them to simply have character conversation and (erroneously) call it literature. There is more to prose than just lines of dialogue, and there is more to script-writing than just having the characters say things one after the other. Work on fleshing out a real story, with descriptions, actions, and more. Don't expect to write lines of dialogue and call it prose.

Left Turn at Albuquerque: Pacing is one of the most important things in literature. If your story goes too fast, your readers might get lost or confused. Too slow and it becomes boring. Pacing is much different in an roleplay. If the players want to slow things down and dabble in an area or focus on an issue for a while, there's no problem. Sidetracks can be fun in gaming. In a story, where the structure is different, if you get off-course too much you can lose your readers.

Mary and Gary Live Here: Most of us know what a Mary Sue is. If not, here is a great article. The truth of the matter is that Mary Sues (or Gary Stus) are not widely accepted, even in roleplaying. However, in a gaming environment, there is an element of personal fantasy. You can have a super bad-ass character or an OC that is uber-beautiful, etc. As long as it doesn't get too out of hand and you don't end up with an "all-powerful, perfect as pie" character, a bit of indulgence is forgivable. It is a game, after all. However, in writing, that's just not the case. Nobody wants to read your wish-fulfillment. An idealized character that works in a roleplay may not work in general fiction. Does that mean your OC is un-usable? Not necessarily, but be prepared to make some serious changes to the character and tone them down to more believable levels.

Lost in Translation: So you have the most kick-ass roleplay story ever. You know if you write it into a formal story, everyone is gonna love it. But, when you post the first chapter, you're told it sucks. What gives? As with many of the points here, a story that works well in a roleplay may not work in literature. At least not in its present form. In order for it to make good short story or novel, be prepared to revise and re-work the plot. Roleplays tend to be quite long. You may need to cut parts, limit the role of certain characters, or simply do a lot of editing. In traditional writing, you have to be prepared to "kill your darlings." That means that sometimes you need to drop an idea, or cut a scene, or eliminate a character you adore so that the story works better. You may absolutely love that fight sequence in your RP, but it may drag a traditional short story down.

I Wish I Had That Idea: While roleplays may be collaborative storytelling, the fact of the matter is that ownership rights, better known as copyright, still exist. While you may have participated in the game and added to the story, there may be some question as to who came up with the idea in the first place. Also, using characters which were created by your friends is a huge no-no without permission (and proper credit). Even if you get permission to write the story and use the OCs, you need to consider what would happen if you sell your work and make money off of it. Your co-players may not be too happy seeing you profit from their ideas. The best bet is to stick with ideas and roleplay stories you came up with, or simply go with original stories and avoid the problem all together.

Roleplaying is One-Shot: When you are RPing, you are playing in real-time--meaning that you want things to move or else the game halts. When the game is over, it's over. Unfortunately, writing standard fiction is not the same. Roleplay does not have a first draft, second draft, edit, final-version. Creation of literature does. Editing is a fundamental part of writing process. I have seen people who feel that it's a defect if you can't get a story right in one shot or who think that editing is for the weak. While that attitude may work in roleplaying, it does not work in serious writing. Making sure your literature is the "best it can be" means reading, re-reading, editing, and polishing.

The Roleplaying world is not the Literature world: This is something that many people won't like to hear, but it's a hard reality. Just because you're told you're a great writer in your roleplay does not mean you'll be told you're a great writer by seasoned authors. As mentioned before, roleplaying is fun, it's relaxing, it's stress-relief; roleplay provides a way for people to stretch their creativity while being entertained. The literature world is not a game. While some people write solely for fun and enjoyment, there are a great many who feel that writing is their craft and are very serious about it. They expect a level of skill and they expect that writers not only want to write, but to improve their craft. Don't expect to come into a literature chat or forum with a roleplay attitude and be taken seriously. If you write for fun, that's great, no-one is faulting you. However, if you have a roleplay attitude about writing, and don't worry about punctuation, grammar, etc., don't get upset when a more experienced writer points out your flaws. It's their job to help the community grow. If you are serious about writing beyond roleplay, and want to be taken seriously, then get serious about listening to critiques and advice. If not, stick with roleplays or personal "fun writing" and don't have unrealistic expectations of being accepted as a peer to veteran writers.


Okay, so, if you follow these rules you'll be a great writer, right? Not necessarily. The bottom line is that if you want to be a good writer you need to know the fundamentals of writing. You need to know proper grammar. You need to understand and use punctuation correctly. You need to have a strong vocabulary and know how to spell. Writing, just like any art, requires practice and study. Roleplays are more forgiving of these things. Formal fiction is not.  Take some time and learn the basic rules.  It may take a while, but it will be well worth the effort to see your roleplaying writing evolve into strong traditional writing.
Added a section on using ideas and characters created by others and possible copyright problems. Thanks, =LadyBrookeCelebwen

A disclaimer: I do not feel everything wrong with inexperienced writers can be traced back to roleplay. I think we have a terrible problem where kids are not being taught proper grammar, spelling, etc. and don't feel there is any virtue in learning it. However, I think this problem is often perpetuated by roleplaying, as friends get together and oftentimes ignore writing deficiencies. The whole idea of having "fun" first and foremost has permeated into traditional writing, with mixed results.



Roleplaying is the first writing experience for many people nowadays. That can lead to the belief that writing in an RP is the same as writing a novel. It's not.

I wrote this article not in response to any one instance, but the fact that I keep seeing these things popping up over and over, these errors writers are making and justifying. There is a belief that you can move from roleplaying writing to traditional writing effortlessly. That's not true. I see so many new writers frustrated because their writing is "not working" or not well-received. They simply don't understand that while writing poetry and prose is not the same, writing roleplay threads and writing traditional lit stories is not the same either.

I am not claiming to be an expert here. I am not offering a way to fix things because I don't feel I'm a competent enough author to give that kind of advice. I'm simply here to give roleplayers some insight on the differences in the hopes they will start to understand that some effort needs to be taken to transition from one to the other. As to where to go next? There are literally hundreds of tutorials and guides on dA that will help you learn more about storytelling and show you how to write traditional short stories and novels properly.

I ask that all comments be respectful here, on both sides. This article was not meant as a personal attack and I will not tolerate personal attacks, be it on me as the author, or against anyone on either side of the table (roleplayer or veteran writer). I mean this article to be a positive thing and will hide any comment that isn't written in that spirit.

Preview image stock from 123RF.com




I was pointed to a deviant who wrote a series of articles on the subject breaking down the problems roleplayers have and showing how to fix them. You may want to check it out.

Rehab for Roleplayers - IntroWelcome to Rehab for Roleplayers, a series of articles aimed at helping roleplayers more successfully make the transition into writing fiction.

Introduction: How to Spot a Drow Illusionist

I can identify a habitual roleplayer from fifty paces. Those who've been spooked by my asking whether they're a roleplayer within ten seconds of reading their fiction will know what I'm talking about.

"But how did you know?" they gasp. When I'm done chuckling, I explain that I know they are a roleplayer, because they write like a roleplayer.

There's usually a pause, then, while the writer decides to what degree they're going to feel offended by this sta
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:iconcrystalshards07:
CrystalShards07 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Student Writer
I remember when I first had created an RP account,
It was into the world of literature based upon best selling authors, as well as several anime.
Now, don't get me wrong, RPing can increase your literate skills depending upon the situation.
I had began to roleplay in literate communities when I was still learning how to improve my English skills, and most of the RPers I had met were literate and used much more detailed and vivid writing styles.
Of course, I improved over their influence in greater vocabulary, so in a sense, roleplaying has increased my writing skills.
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014   General Artist
I think it can. I just think that when people lean on it and don't make an effort to get better, it's a crutch.
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:icondeceitful-fox:
Deceitful-Fox Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2013  Professional Writer
As someone who pours a great (unhealthy) deal of time into both prose and RP, you certainly do notice a 'gear shift' between the two styles when you've practised long enough. I get so lazy when RPing and I really hate myself for it, but then I realise that if I wrote prose style I'd just want to take control of everything and move the story in my direction. Even when an RP is going well--or perhaps especially when it is going well--I find an urge bubbling within me to just steal the story and run with it, lol. Then, when something happens I don't like, I'm just like 'Nooooo, but it was getting so interesting! Can't you see if this character did this and this and this it would be better?!'. Writers can be such control freaks sometimes.  
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2014   General Artist
Yeah. Though in some ways, it teaches a different lesson--to be able to go with the flow and shift in a different direction when you need to. Sometimes our prose doesn't go as planned and we need to make decisions and detours that weren't planned. I think RP does a good job of helping with that.

That said, I hear you. It took me a while to get use to RPing. It's such a different animal. In some ways you have to be a bit lazy for it to work like it's supposed to.
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:icondeceitful-fox:
Deceitful-Fox Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2014  Professional Writer
That's true. RPing is useful for giving you ideas if nothing else. I like seeing what other people do with their characters and how they write dialogue etc. 
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:iconbarbecuediguana:
BarbecuedIguana Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013
Good article! Although Gary/Mary Sues are always welcome in my games - its why we have gelatinous cubes :D

My big beef when it comes to gaming and writing is the notion (and the phrase) that it is a "story-telling" game. No, it's a game that supplies the stuff from which stories are told.

It's a bit like downhill skiing. The gaming part of it is the day on the slopes, taking countless runs all over the mountain. The actual story-telling part of it happens during the car ride home (I grew up skiing in the east :roll:). That is when you distill the day down to just a few key moments and discard the rest.  

So I think role-playing does exercise valuable muscles in the mind of a writer, but it is not writing. Writing is a distillation of the adventures that one has.
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013   General Artist
True. Very true.
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:icondenisecroy:
DeniseCroy Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That is great advice. I don't role play much but I often write in collaboration with different people and some of the rules you stated also stand for that activity. 

In any case, I think everything you wrote is pertinent and well phrased! 
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013   General Artist
Thank you, dear. :heart:
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:iconvisanastasis:
VisAnastasis Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Great article! :clap:
I am active roleplayer, and I practically do it on everyday basic, but, while I don't really consider myself epic failure at writing, I am aware of fact roleplayer isn't same as serious writer. I think roleplay is usually much cornier and drama-like, and while we, roleplayers, enjoy it, because it's fun to add to it no matter what kind of story it is, serious writing often suffers over too much corny scenes and actions made up just for sake of makers' enjoyment. Novels and books needs suspense, they need shading, they need some part of characters and sentences left unsaid, they need shade of mystery and natural flow, not every act explained so ten year old can get it. And, just as good interesting plot, they need believable  characters. Many Mary Sues are, among other reasons, as I see, as well products of poor roleplays, where they practically can survive anything, just because they are someone's favorite characters, so they can be losing blood for five scenes, and still live... and bunch of things like that, like only one surviving surprise massive attack, or like convenient brand  new character coming to rescue, if perfect character by itself  can't save himself that one tiny time against army of blood thirsty snow giants that want to hurt him despite he's poor innocent soul... sometimes it can be reasoned rescue and logical, sometimes.. it's just left mockingly improbable like this. Most of character seem there barely for purpose or of helping/worshiping marry sues, or for making their life miserable, as if  one character's suffering  is whole purpose of plot o_o Not to get me wrong, I love serious complicated  roleplaying with good measured plots, and while there always can be mistakes during process of it, and I do think it's valuable, as both fun and  practice, I do think there's fine line difference between even good and bad one. I do think some roleplaying parts ( meaning characters, overall idea, events and logic etc) can be adapted into writing piece, but I think it would require some very heavy editing. Like, really heavy editing, and adding different perspective, if it's to work outside of world of roleplayers in fluent logical way Bench it - remake
 
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013   General Artist
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I'm sure it will help benefit others to read it.

I just see so much confusion. Just like there are different types of storytelling, (such as lit as opposed to movies, as opposed to video games), there are different type of writing. I just with more people understood this.  To translate one into another takes so much work. It's not something people should take lightly.

Ah, yes, Mary Sue. Even though I realize there is a bit of wish-fulfillment and Mary Sue indulgence is okay to a degree, it simple isn't fun for other players when the story is simply there for one character to live their fantasy and be worshipped.  It's difficult to work with a character like that in a roleplay, but at least there is some forgiveness. In a novel, it dooms the story.

Again, thank you for your comments, I enjoyed them.
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:iconkimeria87:
Kimeria87 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Student General Artist
I so agree with this! Terrific and excellent points! :iconlazycryplz:
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013   General Artist
Thank you, sweetheart. Glad you liked it.
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:iconkimeria87:
Kimeria87 Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013  Student General Artist
You're welcome! :hug:
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:iconroleplay4life:
roleplay4life Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree that there is definitely a difference between writing for a roleplay and writing for the sake of, shall we say, "traditional prose". 

I think it goes without saying (given my username, aha) that I'm a really big fan of roleplaying. It's how I got into writing, and in many ways inspired me to pursue it as a career (I'm currently a freelance fiction editor and am pursuing a BA in English). Whenever I'm feeling stuck on a character or in a creative rut, I usually grab a friend or two and say, "hey, let's whip out an RP". 

Novelling is a little different. You don't have anyone else to bounce ideas off of and, like you very rightly said, sometimes you need either more or less description in certain parts. And, of course, it's a lot easier to create a story when two heads are making it.

My writing's gotten better over the years, and subsequently, so has my roleplaying. I've made a ton of friends just through roleplaying with them and out-of-character chatting. I have friends I met nine or ten years ago on the roleplaying boards of Neopets and we still chat all the time. Maybe roleplaying in itself doesn't make someone a good writer, but if it inspires you to keep writing - like it did for me - I say, go for it!
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
Absolutely. As I tried to say in the beginning of the article, I feel there are MANY benefits to roleplaying.  Actually, in my research for this article, I found that many schools are using roleplaying as a way to teach kids storytelling, plotting, and get the more interested in reading and literature.  Also, as a way of getting them more comfortable with the written word. There is definitely a lot of merit to it, beyond just the social aspect. But, certainly making friends and human interaction is a huge plus, too.

Though, as someone said in another comment, and as you point out, RPs are a great way to work on characters.  Roleplays are character driven, while standard fiction is more plot driven. If you are not educated in formal writing, that might not be obvious to roleplayers.

I just see so many inexperienced writers coming out of roleplaying and overwhelmed. They come on to forums and chats, where veteran authors have certain expectations as to skill and knowledge, and they are being eaten alive.  I have seen some very enthusiastic new writers give it up after being chewed up like that.  It's sad, because they truly didn't know what they were doing wrong.  It's simply that they didn't understand the differences of what they were doing in roleplay and what is needed when moving to writing standard fiction.

That is one thing my husband and I were talking about. I think when you move to more traditional writing and learn those skills, they will eventually bleed over into your roleplaying. So, it is a win-win situation. That said, when I started my first forum roleplay, I was a bit perplexed. I wanted to get things moving, cut to the chase, and everyone was like "slow down."  For me, I had learn how to roleplay write, so it was a backwards thing. Though it did really open my eyes to this issue and make me feel this article was necessary.
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:iconroleplay4life:
roleplay4life Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It was a really well-written article, in any case. It's the first time I've really seen someone address the differences between roleplaying and fiction writing, at least in a format like this. So major kudos to you on that, if anything.

Yeah, your first bite of criticism is hard to take. And since I know that, sometimes I even have to tell myself to not bite my tongue when I'm editing someone's work and giving them suggestions on how to improve it. Because that's what I have to do - I have to help them make their work better. I think for me the difference is that I started off writing stories at a very young age, and then did a lot of roleplaying and novelling at the same time up until the present day. After a while I started realizing the real need to switch between the two mindsets, and I think that's the trick. 
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
I actually went searching for articles on the subject, since I didn't want to beat a dead horse. I couldn't find any. I did find one articles that did describe a few benefits of roleplaying for writers, but there was nothing about any possible negatives or differences.  What I feel more odd is that every time I would try to breach this subject with veteran writers, I was met with an attitude that it wasn't an issue, but merely an "excuse" some writers would use to justify poor writing.  Perhaps it's the mom (and a bit of the homeschooler in me) that can see it as being something deeper and wanting to put a spotlight on it.

That said, I think I might have a different viewpoint as my first writing collab was with a gal who had just come out of roleplay environment. It was very difficult for her to transition and I could see how much anxiety she suffered because of it, since she truly desired to be a good an proper author. So I got to see firsthand the struggles of a writer who loved to RP, and was told she was an excellent roleplay writer, but who simply froze when it came to writing traditional prose.  I was happy to work with her through the issues, but it took time and patience on both our parts.

Yes. I think that is the trick, and what I really was trying to stress in this article. They are two different mindsets. Just as you can't really use the same train of thinking to write song lyrics as prose, you can't really come at traditional storytelling like you do roleplaying. Once you understand the difference and know how to shift gears, you can benefit from both.
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:iconvespera:
vespera Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm going to start asking people why they're turning left at Albuquerque
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
:highfive:
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:icongazville:
GazVille Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
THANK YOU! SOMEONE WHO AGREES WITH ME!
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
:D  I'm glad you approve.
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:iconzodiacgal:
zodiacgal Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This is amazing! I'm a writer myself, and I also do roleplay, so I can see the differences you mentioned here. This will be a reminder to me if I ever get stuck on writing, to make sure I don't revert to roleplay writing. 
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
thank you for the comment. I'm glad you're taking it in the spirit it was written. I feel there are benefits to both types of writing. And I do love roleplay. As long as writers keep in mind there are strong differences in each form, it really is all good.
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013
Well, this is real interesting! Sorry I don't comment on all your other stuff, but I have only so much patience and/or attention span to spare for people. Usually it's all expended just keeping my inbox of thousands of drawings and writings to a manageable level. And we're not even factoring in my personal inner turmoil; mostly existential stuff about laziness. The only real exception is something that can truly grip my interests to the point where I'm captivated enough to want to stick around...Kind of like here. The result, is a giant dump of thoughts that may be supported by other references to help make a point (as observed below).

ANYWAY! To start this off right (if it's not too late for that), I LOVE roleplaying! :D However, again, my energies tend to be too taxed with video games, or when I do "roleplay", it's usually with 4 people at the same time, each doing a different campaign/quest/storyline, which is not very healthy if you ask me. But with the right people, the idea of an infinitely dynamic story and plot and campaign is equally enticing! I personally love immersion in everything I do, from pen-and-paper roleplays to video games. For our discussion, that means when I'm hosting or GMing, I try to put in a lot of juicy details (or as many as I appropriately can), some of which might not add directly to the plot but help create atmosphere.

Anyway, I try my *darndest* to avoid every plot hole conceivable, but my nitpicking subconscious QA can always find faults and holes. That's natural, and it gets to a point where I just have to tell myself, "Fook it." In fact, I've heard the greatest story masterpieces (particularly with landmark films) have plot holes. One group lives off addressing them, a group known on Youtube as, "How it Should Have Ended".

And collaboration is great...When I can get my lazy anus to do something/ But that's only half the problem. The other half comes from either lack of communication and/or impasses in making ideas/personalities mesh. In short, it's awesome...with the right people.

In your "show don't tell" paragraph...In like manner, a roleplay with sparse details can leave players not knowing how to interact or not knowing what to do. Sometimes, there isn't even anything motivating the story along! And that's a problem.

The Mary Sue element needs to be handled...gingerly, yet assertively. Yes, I admit putting myself in my stories is awesome, and roleplaying as the ultimate badass fantasy self I have conceived since high school is fun, but things to watch out for include being overpowered, unoriginal/uninspired, or simply being a jerk to the other characters/players. You said it nearly best...But, I still think some measure of wish-fulfillment can make for quite a tale, if the characters are done OK and the plot makes sense and you can get your audience emotionally invested with the quest of said character. Basically, if there's a self-insert, treat it just like any other regular character, and have nothing that defies the laws of the established fiction.

At the end of the day, both forms of writing are just plain awesome! And I *am* serious about this sort of stuff. Otherwise, I wouldn't take pride in my grammar perfections or the meditation I spend to compose something like this, or even a simple fan-fiction where I make a no-expenses-spared effort to mimic the style of the original show's format in terms of story. The only reason I'm no veteran is because I haven't entered their group, and because I haven't made any money off my stuff (to be fair, it's impossible to publish when the people I need to contact won't even acknowledge my requests). And not only do these basic rules help, but lesson 2 is how to grip the audience; things like making them care for your characters, or sometimes using the "Rule of Cool" to provoke a "WOW" reaction that'll make 'em want to know how that just happened. Being God of your own world means you need to be ready to answer almost every question possible - and most definitely the most crucial ones, at any rate.
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” ~ Stephen King

I think that is one of the core differences between roleplay writing and traditional fiction writing. As you rightfully mention, too little detail can take away from a roleplay.  There is simply a fundamental difference there.  In a roleplay, you have players who need to jump in and start operating in the world. That oftentimes requires long descriptions to set the mood, introduce them to the universe,etc.  You can't start with action, per se, as the characters participating are in charge of acting and making decisions, and hence creating the action. Whereas traditional stories are a different animal. Long descriptions, particularly in the beginning, can be a deal killer for a book. You need to cut-to-the-chase, relatively, to keep the reader interested.

And, yes, roleplays very much perpetuate Mary Sues. That's not a bad thing. I am a firm believer that Mary Sues can be good characters if handled right. However, they have much more free reign in an RP.  You can indulge and escape with that perfect character, because that is part of what the gaming experience is about, fun and escapism. Unfortunately, roleplayers who have Sue/Stu characters often get upset when they are not embraced so readily in traditional fiction. So, a lot of confusion there.

That also makes me wonder. Sometimes I see people embracing Mary Sue characters and encouraging the creators to "keep them as they are", when it is clear that a few changes would benefit the believability of the character. I think that stems back to roleplay, too. You have people becoming more tolerant of such characters, which can lead to further confusion from inexperienced writers when they are met with such venom from veteran authors who are sick of seeing the same type of character for the 1000th time.

Anyhow, you gave a lot to chew on.  Thank you for commenting. I hope some of the readers get a lot from your words and advice.
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013
I have little to add at this point other than I really like what you have to say here. And in terms of "Mary Sues", the reason roleplaying games come with a set of rules is to keep that issue under moderation and control, so that no one player can activate God Mode and potentially ruin the fun, particularly for the other players. Admittedly, playing God in my favorite games is a great pastime for me, but it can be a double-edged sword and gets far more hairy when involving other human players into the mix. If players were to consent to certain limitations being in place (the easiest to define being "Real Life Rules", or short for the idea that you can't do anything in the roleplay you can't actually be able to do realistically, like if you take a bullet to the chest, you'd better believe there's a bullet in your chest unless you're fairly armored), the entire wish-fulfillment part will never creep into Sue/Stu territory. Usually in formal pen-and-paper games, the rules make for an entire textbook (and no, I'm not exaggerating, I saw one at a comic shop a couple months back and it looked like a hardback book of the same make as a school textbook), but that's because there are *SO MANY* different angles to take into consideration, being a living and breathing and theoretically infinitely expandable universe we're creating to play in. Casual text-based online roleplaying usually isn't that deep, but the lesson here is the rules exist for a reason.

You do have a point about confusion, here, and even better with stale characters. As I've said, simply putting yourself into a story and having the story be related to your fantasy isn't necessary a mark of doom (although it tends to be since the exceptions are far too scarce; this is mostly just a theory). I mean, if the characters have proper motivation and that self character isn't too powerful or all-powerful, it usually isn't a problem even though people might think it is at first glance given the reputation of the idea of putting the self into a story.
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013   General Artist
Very true. Thanks for adding to this. I'm sure people will find it useful.
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:iconthe-golden-knight:
The-Golden-Knight Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2013
Glad I could help! :aww:
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:iconendorell-taelos:
Endorell-Taelos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Another thing I just thought of is that with RP there is virtually no rules or guide, with writing there must be.

I don't make any sense. :lol:
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Well, actually when working on this article, I ran into several RP guides.  But, unlike writing, RP rules can vary greatly. Some RPs are a free-for-all, some have very strict rules. But, again, it can be different for different roleplays.  With writing, while there are different genres and such, sentence structure, grammar, and other conventions are pretty constant. Style and voice do come into play, but without the core backbone, your writing will suffer.

That said, I would hazard to say that learning how to write properly would not only help you in your short story and/or novel writing, but would also help you become a better roleplayer. Being able to write properly helps you convey your thoughts more succinctly and would benefit most other writing environments you dabble in.
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:iconendorell-taelos:
Endorell-Taelos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Yes, that makes a whole lot of sense. :nod:
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:iconendorell-taelos:
Endorell-Taelos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Another thing...  Sure you could create some amazing characters and plots during the RP process but again the main problem is trying to take those out and translate them into novel format..  There probably is no easy way. Writing, we all know can be difficult... but I think this article could give them a head-start. 
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
That's my hope. I'm not here to give anyone the answers, but help them identify the problem so they can seek out the answers. As for where, just looking in the "more like this" on this page, there are a ton of tutorials listed. So, there is a plethora of resources they can turn to.
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:iconendorell-taelos:
Endorell-Taelos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
:thumbsup: And I am glad that you have done so for the misinformed. I do think this article could help greatly.
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:iconendorell-taelos:
Endorell-Taelos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
I always used to say roleplaying could be good for practice purposes but not so much helpful when it comes to becoming serious about writing a full-length story or novel.  The key thing is to research, study and practice on how to write.  Something I've learned myself when trying to get into writing after roleplay. Awesome and insightful article really. :thumbsup: The sad thing is that know one wants to hear the truth and many of the truths that you have stated here. 
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Problem is many people think they are they same. I mean, especially in a long RP, it can almost feel like you are writing a novel. So it's easy to get the misconception that they are one in the same.

Extracting my characters from an RP took me 10 years. Not actually, but during those 10 years I tried several times and it was so difficult and daunting, I gave up (part of that was that not only did I need to extract them for the RP but from the licensed universe we were playing in).  When I finally did, it took 1 1/2 of planning to get the story hammered it. Definitely not an easy transition.

Well, there will be people who will argue that what I am saying is not true, but it has been my experience that most people who can transition smoothly already have a firm footing in writing regular fiction already, so there is no real learning curve.  For the inexperienced writer, it can be very difficult to move from one to the other.
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:iconendorell-taelos:
Endorell-Taelos Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Yeah, I think that is a lesson most of us have learned. Including myself.   In a sense writing a novel is quite overwhelming if you aren't prepared for it.
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013   General Artist
Very true.
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:icondorianharper:
DorianHarper Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013  Professional Writer
Definitely agree! :la:

While I am an avid RPer with my girlfriend using  our characters from novel projects, there really hasn't been anything that makes it helpful for actually writing the novel. If anything, it's helped with dialogue a tad since the majority of the RP is dialogue oriented, but it's a completely different genre.

The main problem with RPs vs. novels is that RPs are really character driven, whereas novels are more (or at least should be in most cases) plot driven. While I've done RPs that are plot driven (using pre-existing characters), the majority of them are whim of the moment and based heavily around characters.

I'll admit that RPing is fun and I do enjoy it, but it hasn't benefited my writing any-- perhaps dialogue has improved from it, but definitely not anything else. My characters are developed for my story alone and RPs don't alter them in any way. (Maybe it's reverse in my situation because I RP with already existing characters who HAVE a novel they are from rather than a newly created RP character that is trying to have a novel created around it). :shrug:
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
I think you hit it on the head about the focus of RPs.  They are character-driven for the mostpart.  I have had some people argue with me on that fact, though.  Pretty passionately, as they have told me that some of their best storytelling came from RPs.  But I am still of the firm belief that the structure is different. You are focused on your character first and foremost, and how they interact with the story. Even if the story is kick-ass, it's different.

I think roleplaying is amazing. I literally took 20 years off from serious writing to raise my family. When I would get upset about that, Jim would say, "when the kids are grown, we'll write again." And here we are! Well, not grown, but old enough we can focus.  But, anyway, during that downtime, RPing was my creative outlet. It allowed me to write without the formal conventions and it kept me sane as my muse was fed. LOL.  But, as I mentioned in another comment, when time came to get back to real writing, it was a bitter pill to swallow to learn that 90% of what we did in RP could not be used in our formal writing. But I'm glad we did rework it all, because it's just that much better.

I am like you, I RP using existing characters. What I like is that it doesn't help my writing, per se, but it helps me understand my character(s) more.  Throwing them in different situations they may never see otherwise helps me get a better grip of how they react in canon situations. SO, that's cool.  But, again, we're talking about characters, not plot and writing.  Just 2 different things.
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:iconladybrookecelebwen:
LadyBrookeCelebwen Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree with most of this (especially the does not make you a good author part - does anything make you a good one, other than being one?). :D

Can I add one thing - if you adapt a roleplay you did with another person/other people, make sure people are aware you're doing it, and you probably want their permission first. That's one of the other issues I see, people deciding to adapt one and then not realizing why not only are the lit authors not that enthusiastic, but your fellow RPers are now grumpy. If someone else came up with something you're using in a story (dialogue, description, etc), you probably should acknowledge that. Actually, that's the major issue I see come up a lot.

Use of you here intended in a general sense, not anyone in particular.
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
That's a very good point. Let me see if I can work something in to that effect.  And I totally hear you.  We RPed for 15 years.  When we decided to convert our RP world to a series, we were very careful to strip out *everything* that was created by any of our co-players. Characters, ideas, etc.  We were really adamant about copyright. Even though it was collective storytelling, there were clearly games and ideas that were not ours and we didn't want to have any issues with that.  So, we didn't even consider asking for permission as we simply decided not to go that route.

Just curious, what parts don't you agree with?  Not looking for a fight, just wondering.

As for becoming a good author, I just see so many writers who basically write "roleplay fiction."  So much of the structure is like what you would see in gaming threads. They seem perplexed when they post the story and someone calls them out on it--they truly don't understand they are different animals.
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:iconmendeddragon:
MendedDragon Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I was a little skeptical of this when I just looked at the title, but now that I read through it I guess it be A-OK with me. :la: For what it matters.

Ja, I entirely agree from experience. I tried to 'novelize' one of our DnD campaigns and the variety of things that'd happen in sessions would just vary too much. RPs are too erratic in length as well as all this :ohnoes:
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
Roleplaying is a different type of storytelling. Some of my best "stories" were in our RP. I mean, things I think back on and smile with fond memories. However, there is just no way I could put them in a novel--even with heavy editing.

This article is more about being realistic in your writing expectations. I see a lot of people getting their feelings hurt when they write a story that is much in the manner of how a roleplay would run, and seasoned writers rip them apart. I mean, I don't always agree with the harshness that is taken at some of these writers, but on the other hand these new writers just don't seem to understand what the problem is.  This is more about education than anything.

In the 15 year campaign I mentioned, we ended up taking those characters and starting a fiction series. I literally cried real tears because I had to cut so much stuff. Literally, we have to scrap 90% of it. Despite that, in the end I am SOO much happier with what we have.  We managed to keep some important elements of the original RP, but we built a new (albeit similar) world which is rich. It was difficult, but I learned so much.  I hope to write a series of articles about that in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.  Yeah, I did waffle a bit on the title, as it is a bit negative in tone.  But that is often what I hear from people, "I'm a great writer in my RP" so I wanted to go with that angle.
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:iconmendeddragon:
MendedDragon Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, I think quite a few 'veteran' writers are a bit too harsh for their own good >.>;; Along with having no qualms with being snarky and whatever. That's besides the point, though. Even so, there are thick-skulled folk out there...

Lol, this makes me want to chronicle a few Gundam rps I've had... they're already quite... lacking in 'fluff'? XD Over-serious DM. :shrug:
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2013   General Artist
I so often see veteran writers asking, "why are all of these kids so caught up on character sheets?" or "what's up with people wanting someone else to write a scene?"  I've tried to suggest that RP is part of these issues, but I keep being told to GTFO.  So, I figured this was the best way to approach it. I hope writers on both sides of the table gleen something from this article.

Over-serious DM?  Yeah, that can be a problem. had a few of those myself. But, yea, those not-so-much-fluff games do translate better into stand-alone stories.  So, good luck with that! :D
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