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Thread: EMPIRE5! - CWBG - Now in Galactic Size

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    Ogre in the Playground
    Gengy's Avatar

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    Aug 2005

    Default Re: EMPIRE5! - CWBG - Now in Galactic Size

    All APPROVED players should have received, either via Discord or Forum PM, their Zone of Influence and their Starting Region.

    Please make sure to update the Worlds Thread with your Capital's Region. Thank you.

    Gengy's Suggestions for Better Writing
    Specifically in Play-by-Post games

    Right. Let's get this started. It's gonna be a long post. Sit back and read when you have the time.

    First, the obligatory disclaimer:
    I've been wanting to do this for a while now. Please understand that the following very long post is a suggestion. It is neither a critique nor a pointing of fingers upon anyone. It is merely a sharing of my own knowledge in the hopes of helping to make this game more enjoyable for everyone. TLDR; take this with a grain of salt.

    Easy Improvements

    Let's start simple.

    Spelling and Typos
    Spelling is important. Proper spelling allows for proper communication, and shows the difference between "their item" and "there item". One belongs to someone, and the other is probably a caveman pointing out where the item is.

    So how do you make sure that your character is scratching their nose, instead of scratching their noose? Use the Preview Post button, if it's available, and re-read your posts before submitting them. You may find something you didn't want to say. This simple act of re-reading holds true for EVERYTHING. It's by far the easiest and, in my humble opinion, most important thing you can do for play by post games.

    No, seriously. Think. While writing your posts, re-reading your posts, and even AFTER posting (because, hey, there is an edit button right there, if you missed something).

    "But Gengy, what should I think about," you may ask? Good question. When I'm working in this type of game, the first thing I think about is my own character. Because, let's be honest, that's what I'm interested in. How would my character act if this happened? How would they react if that happened? Get your own character down first. Know how they speak, how they act, and how they would react.

    Good Improvements

    This stuff will make your posts easily readable.

    Paragraphs and Punctuation
    All hail the great one father of forinstance ruler of whattodo bane of whatnottodo and master of case lord Example! The high priest intoned as he fell to his knees in supplication.
    Lord Example stepped forth and smiled at the room before him filled with his subjects it was a sight to behold. Rise up my people he said I am here now and it is good.

    If you're looking at that above Example, you're hopefully seeing some mistakes. Here's what it should look like:
    "All hail the great one, Father of For-instance, Ruler of What-to-do, Bane of What-not-to-do, and Master of Case, Lord Example!" the high priest intoned, as he fell to his knees in supplication.

    Lord Example stepped forth and smiled at the room before him. Filled with his subjects, it was a sight to behold.

    "Rise up my people," he said, "I am here now, and it is good."

    See how much easier that is to read? The primary thing done here is that each NEW thought (ie, a paragraph) is broken up with a double spaced line. Play by Post games don’t have indentions for paragraphs, like traditional books do.

    Also within the Example (hey, look! A new thought! Double spaced!), we see that the chat has “Quotation Marks” and, of course, commas. Within Lord Example’s many titles, we capitalized letters for easier reading, and used hyphens-here-and-there to make the wordy titles really pop.

    Conveying the Message with the Tools Available
    Within Play by Post games, reading is important. Getting people to understand what you are saying is the BIG deal. Thankfully, most Play by Post forums like this one have a lot of great tools that let us do that.

    --Spoiler Tags--
    Using the [.spoiler] tags allow us to reference previous posts without making our own post look long AND also can convey messages OOC to our DM or other players… again, without breaking up the message of the post. But they should go BEFORE a post or AFTER a post. Putting them in the middle can make things confusing. So unless you’re changing to a completely different scene, try to avoid multiple spoilers. Try using *asterisks to denote that you have something to say later. Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Disc World series, is a great example of effective *asterisks and notations. We can do the same, and put our thoughts in a later [./spoiler]

    To emphasize something important, there are several ways to do it.
    To emphasize something important, there are several ways to do it.
    To emphasize something important, there are several ways to do it.

    Personally, I stay away from using underlining. The only exception is when I'm creating a headline like you see with the topic names in this post. I'll use italics a lot - and I mean a lot - when I want to prove a point... but also, Italics are GREAT at Thought-Speech, and conveying what your character is thinking without actually speaking aloud. As for bold letters? I'll use bold letters when I'm letting something very important drop in. Take a look:
    No one will ever know what I'm thinking, Lord Example thought to himself. The plan was perfect.

    In this case, it's really a matter of taste. If you've got someone who speaks with "bold text as they are talking", it's probably easier to read your emphasizing with italics. Just be mindful of what you are trying to say, and use these accordingly.

    Oh, one other thing on Emphasis. You can use increased text size to really get people's attention, but use it too much, or make it too big, and it's annoying. You can get the same effect out of bolded text without increasing size... and decreasing size for a whisper can also get people to take notice.

    It's all about conveying the message, using the tools available.

    Making your character talk the talk is just as important as making them walk the walk. We've got "Quotation Marks" for talking, and they should be used carefully. And Paragraphs too!
    "These fools won't know what hit them." Lord Example laughed. "I am a genius." He clapped his hands in glee and said, I may be Lord Example, but I will make an example of them!"
    "Minions! To me!""Yes, oh mighty one?"

    Now what's wrong with that? Well, a couple of things. First off, there were some mistakes with the quotation marks, so it's difficult to read. Secondly, it doesn't have the right spaces with paragraphs, making it even harder to read. And Third... Lord Example here probably speaks with an evil tone, so it's not a stretch for him to have a Dark Red text color. Coloring text correctly is very important. Many games use colored text to help differentiate between characters, and if the Game Master wants to use your character to say something, the very easy way for them to convey that it is your character talking is to color it the same way.

    Let's improve the last Take, and add some color.
    "These fools won't know what hit them." Lord Example laughed. "I am a genius."

    He clapped his hands in glee and said, "I may be Lord Example, but I will make an example of them!"

    "Minions! To me!"

    "Yes, oh mighty one?"

    See that's much improved. But ooops! Looks like we still made a mistake. Did you catch it?

    That's right. Now that we added color, and made it how Lord Example speaks, we've got to make sure that the color only goes on his speech. When Lord Example laughed, that was an action. Not speech. It shouldn't be colored in. Here's what the whole thing should look like:
    "These fools won't know what hit them." Lord Example laughed. "I am a genius."

    He clapped his hands in glee and said, "I may be Lord Example, but I will make an example of them!"

    "Minions! To me!"

    "Yes, oh mighty one?"

    So that is MUCH better. Speaking of MUCH better, Speech also involves yelling. Here are several ways to yell:

    "I am yelling really loudly!" (exclamation point does it's job)
    "I am yelling REALLY LOUDLY!" (Capital Letters lend a hand)
    "I AM YELLING REALLY LOUDLY!" (Holy CapsLock, you must be angry!)

    Text as a medium can only show when someone is yelling through the words being typed, the font size, and using capital letters. Text can't change the volume of it's voice... but it can change how it is conveyed. Use of Capital Letters is fine. Overuse is going Overboard.

    Let's try pulling all of this together:
    The minions of Lord Example quivered below, as he stood upon his dais with imperial ease and grace. The High Priest, bravest among them, finally asked, "What is it you need of us, oh Patriarch of Precedence?"

    "I require that you go out, and... teach the people. My genius must be spread. If they will not learn, then let them live in ignorance and confusing posts... forever." With such an evil pronouncement, Lord Example waved one hand slowly, from the left side of his body to the right, and there the hand stayed as he grinned with menace.

    Greatly afraid, the High Priest could not help himself from squealing, "Oh no! SURELY not forever, great one!"

    "Can they not be saved? Can they not be spared? But tell me how, and I will do it for you, Sultan of Symbolization!"
    Falling to the ground in supplication, the High Priest begged for the lives of the unlearned. Begged for the chance - and only the chance - to bring them enlightenment.

    "Those who will not follow my Example," the Father of For-Instance said gravely, "have made their choice. They have probably stopped reading by now, anyways, sure that their way is better."

    "They are WRONG!" An Acolyte yelled.

    Deigning to answer, Lord Example scoffed, "Are they? ARE THEY? I don't know about that..."

    I certainly like to think so,
    this last bit, Lord Example kept to himself.

    See how easy that was to read? And hopefully, those of you still reading, are finding something useful here.

    Advanced Improvements

    This stuff will make your posts enjoyable.

    Wait a minute. Didn't we go over this in Basic Improvements?

    Well, yes. But that was thinking about yourself. Your character. That's pretty basic.

    Here's where it gets hard: think about others.

    What you are reading right now? It was written by some guy in comfy pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. (The pajama bottoms have Darth Stewie on them, by the way.) The point is, you're not reading words... you're reading words written by another person.

    I've got feelings too. Echum. Manly, manly, chest-hair inducing, muscular, single-tear-drop-rolling-down-the-cheek feelings. But I have feelings!

    So every action that your character does effects my character in some way, big or small. And the thing that will make my manly manly feelings the most hurt?

    If you aren't the Game Master, you don't get to say what I'm doing.

    Never. Ever. Make someone else's character do something without their permission first.

    The only people who have control of my character is me... and the Game Master, but even then it's only to move the plot along, or guide me towards where the plot needs to be.

    So think about what you are doing. Think about what other people think about what you are doing. And think about how their characters MAY react... but don't ever say THIS IS HOW YOU REACT. You aren't the Game Master. You don't get that call.

    Respect other people. They aren't just blocks of text with different pictures of weird things under their assumed avatar names. In a Play-by-Post game, they've got a character too... and it's because they are playing as well that you even have a game.

    Does that mean that you always have to be nice? Well, yes. Out of character, you should be polite and helpful when possible.

    But in character? Heck no. If your character would react in a way that would make them be a mean rotten jerk at that moment in time, you go right ahead! But be ready to justify it out of character, and do the best you can to Convey your Message in character.

    Never Make Plans that Can't Change
    You have an idea of how your character is supposed to end up. Great. That's good!

    But don't get whiny and complain when the Game Master throws everything for a loop. That's their job. And if they refuse to tell you why you can't be the All-Powerful Wish-Granter of Awesome-Things, accept that they have a good reason... and wait for the story to unfold. If you can't listen and react to what the Game Master needs, and make NEW plans based on how the story is going, then you're not going to like the game as much.

    Same goes for other players. They WILL be doing their own thing, and it may come in conflict with your ideas. That's fantastic! That's where the story will really grow.

    But remember to think as you battle it out with your prose and story. They get a say, just like you do.

    Which brings me to my last and, in my opinion, most important point...

    Why is this an Advanced Improvement?

    Because your every day person doesn't do it. Not well. But if you talk things over in advance, it will really keep things going.

    Got a great idea for you and another player's character to work together and conquer the ant hill in front of you? Send them a message, and ask them what they think!

    Want to add something to the world about your dark foreboding background that has - to this day - never been spoken of before because of how dark and foreboding it is? Cool. Send the Game Master a message, and hash out the big reveal. They may even make it a major plot point!

    Talk in the OOC threads. Ask questions, if you are confused about something! No one can read the sound of someone's voice, but they sure can read a question if you ask it.

    Just remember, it is the Game Master's call on, well, everything. They get final say.

    ...but it's up to you to play the game.


    Gengy has been in Play-By-Post games for 20+ years. He's not a professional writer. He doesn't think that this is the only way to do things. But he does know what makes things easy to read. And he does know what annoys the heck out of him when he reads people's posts that make no sense, and don't feel like they have any thought in them. So if you've read this guide, Gengy says, "Thank you." If you've learned something, please send tribute to Lord Example, care of High Priest Gengy. All forms of cheese accepted, except for stale and moldy.
    Last edited by Gengy; 2019-06-08 at 12:41 PM.
    BladeofObliviom said:
    I've only seen a character at anything resembling this level of absurdity thrive exactly once, and he/she/what-the-jongo had the advantage of being written by Gengy, who I look up to as a writer.

    Before you insult someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
    That way, you'll be a mile away, and have their shoes!

    Got my Master's Degree for games (yay!). Still busy (boo!).
    ~avatar by myself