Please DESCRIBE this for me!

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Please DESCRIBE this for me!

PostPosted by kaidan K » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:18 am

Description. Good RP needs description of some sort. How do you expect a reader to understand that your character is able to fight the ninja horde when you don't even make any mention of what weapons they have/use? More importantly, how do you expect the reader replying to your topic to write their best attempt at a reaction to your character when you only focus on dialogue and leave them guessing at what your character actually looks like? Dialogue is key for any RP, but so is description. Physical and mental description wasn't that hard to get across in RP on this forum because if your post lacked it, the former profile requirements forced you to make up for it. There are still full profiles that can do the same thing today, but you can't expect someone else to describe for you what you want in your RP.

It is not hard to write a good description about anything, because even the smallest bit of detail can give the replier a good stepping stone for writing a better, more complete reply. Limiting description when it works can actually add a little bit of suspense to a topic and leave the reader to actually want to see you finally reveal what something/someone is, looks like, smells like, ect. It only works, though when you actually do finally describe the thing in question.

I can show how you can improve not only the quality of your post, but how you can potentially help the replier to gain stepping stones to write a better reply all by just adding some good description,

Example-1-
Spoiler:
Post 1:Steve sees Mr. Simmons. Steve hates Mr. Simmons.
"You're a fag, Mr. Simmons!" said Steve.
Re 1: Mr. Simmons heard Steve.
"Is that supposed to make me laugh?" Mr. Simmons said.
Re 2: "Yeah!" said Steve.


Now, see how horrible this entire RP is? The only thing that's getting across to you is the dialogue because that's nearly all there is to these posts. Now look at it when there's good amount of description in it.

Example-2-
Spoiler:
Post 1: Two men were in a room on the second floor of a Hampton Hotel. Steve was sitting to the left of the room in a comfortable looking chair and while minding his own business, Steve suddenly noticed Mr. Simmons doing aerobics in the middle of the room. The turquoise, sequin covered one-piece that Mr. Simmons was wearing looked like something a girl would wear, making the homophobic person Steve is so uncomfortable that he had to say something about it.
"You're a fag, Mr. Simmons!" Steve said loudly after shaking his head.
Re 1: As Mr. Simmons heard Steve's statement, he raised an eyebrow and turned to look at the oversensitive man. Spots of light on the walls reflecting from the sequein on the one-piece moved around making it look like there was a lit up disco ball in the room.
"Is that supposed to make me laugh?" asked Mr. Simmons, putting his hands on his hips.
Re 2:Steve blinked his eyes and scowled as he didn't know what more to say.
"Yeah!" he then said with a highly sarcastic tone that sounded more defeated than angry.


See how obvious it is at how much more effort you can see was put into each post this time around? Let me break down and compare the examples a little bit so you can better understand what I did. We'll start with "Post 1"

Example-1
Post 1:Steve sees Mr. Simmons. Steve hates Mr. Simmons.
"You're a fag, Mr. Simmons!" said Steve.


Example-2
Post 1: Two men were in a room on the second floor of a Hampton Hotel. Steve was sitting to the left of the room in a comfortable looking chair and while minding his own business, Steve suddenly noticed Mr. Simmons doing aerobics in the middle of the room. The turquoise, sequence covered one-piece that Mr. Simmons was wearing looked like something a girl would wear, making the homophobic person Steve is so uncomfortable that he had to say something about it.
"You're a fag, Mr. Simmons!" Steve said loudly after shaking his head.


Instead of just saying "Steve sees Mr. Simmons", I described a couple things making the setting more clear. Of course you first note that there's two people in this post and that they're indoors. I didn't include where on a map of the world they are, but what matters is that the reader can see the basic setting; they're on the second floor of a Hampton Hotel. The reader also knows that Steve is sitting down in a chair. Not just any chair, but a comfortable looking chair. It's some physical description that wasn't even bothered to be included in Post 1 of example-1. Then I gave some action to Mr. Simmons. Not only did Steve see Mr. Simmons in the middle of the room, he was actually doing something.
The next important detail is that Steve doesn't like Mr. Simmons, but in example 2 you actually see the reason for it. Mr. Simmons is wearing provocative clothing while Steve is homophobic, so naturally he would react in a way that showed hatred.
Then comes in the dialogue. But see what I did differently in example 2? I described action. The action was Steve shaking his head. Action is a good thing when RPing because you're RPing as a living being that should move in someway unless they're lazy or comatose. More on action after I go through "Re 1"

Example-1
Re 1: Mr. Simmons heard Steve.
"Is that supposed to make me laugh?" Mr. Simmons said.


Example-2
Re 1: As Mr. Simmons heard Steve's statement, he raised an eyebrow and turned to look at the oversensitive man. Spots of light on the walls reflecting from the sequence on the one-piece moved around making it look like there was a lit up disco ball in the room.
"Is that supposed to make me laugh?" asked Mr. Simmons, putting his hands on his hips.


Here we have more action description as we see that not only did Mr. Simmons hear Steve, he actually turned toward Steve before talking. Oh! But did you notice that there's one more sentence in the Re 1 from example-2? With the added description of physical appearance in Post 1 of example-2, the replier was able to add even more description in Re 1 as they actually knew more details about what Mr. Simmon's was wearing before they went on RPing him out. This is how you give the replier a chance to write a better reply, because you give them a stepping-stone detail. In this case, the stepping-stone detail was the one-piece that Mr. Simmons was wearing. The replier noticed that it was sequin covered, so they were able to add some more description to make the post more interesting. No need to even compare Re 2 as the point has probably been made.

There are four major things to consider in every post that needs at least some kind of description of to make it possible for someone to RP with you, let alone find your post more interesting; Time and Setting, Physical Appearances, Mentality, and Action. Let's break each one down so you understand them and how to describe them better,

Time and Setting~
The major details involved with Time and Setting include the time of day obviously along with the location and environment. When describing Time and Setting in a post, you should try to include descriptions of the following,
  • Time of day/week/month/year- Usually just time of day is good enough, but in some cases you may wish to elaborate further on when your post is taking place. For flashbacks it's key to elaborate on how long ago the flashback is from, although it is not that big of a deal if you don't pinpoint when it takes place to the exact date.
  • Placement- The reader shouldn't have to ask where the post is taking place unless you want them to. Sometimes it might be good to keep the placement a mystery for both the character and the reader to find out through RP.
  • Weather- If you don't make mention of the weather in your first post, you leave it open for the replier to either guess what you intend the weather to be like or to go over your head completely and describe the weather as they see fit. I can see how someone might not care in some cases, but a good RPer should try and take a little control over their topics. Even when you intend to make an entire topic take place indoors, it would help to know the temperature so a replier can know if they should have their character react to it.

Physical Appearances~
You might want to think of writing a physical description of something/someone as painting a picture with words. How boring was example-1 compared to example-2 above because there was no description of physical appearances? It's good to be able to visualize your own post, but keep in mind that you have the reader to think about. Think of the best way to get your reader and potential replier to be able to visualize what things are important in the topic. Sure, you can leave some things to be implied, or hold off on describing the appearance of something to build up suspense. Otherwise, you really should take the reader and replier into consideration and not expect them to guess at how something or someone looks. Here's pretty much what you should focus on when describing physical appearances,
  • Your character- Please! When people meet, they make reactions and opinions about the other person based on not just how they act and what they do, but also how they look. Again, limiting details can add suspense when done right. This doesn't mean that description should be taken away completely, especially when your character is being looked at by another player's character. Think of every post where your character is going to be seen by another that you're seeing your character and taking note of how they look naturally, what they're wearing, even try making note of how they smell occasionally. No good RPer could express enough how important it is to at least lightly describe the physical appearance of your character.
  • Surrounding area- Take control of your RP and describe not only what your character can see, but what any character can see with their eyes. This includes the area around them obviously, but what can be seen out in the distance, if anything? What about the weather and time of day? If you've set the topic at dusk, try to describe how the sky might look at that time unless you want to make it too cloudy to tell.

Mentality~
This one is pretty straight forward. While all your character's thoughts aren't constantly on display for other characters, it's good to let the reader into your character's head at least a little bit. Try describing their mentality by explaining their personality traits once in a while. Try to dedicate full lines towards outlining reasons for your character's reaction/opinion pertaining to what they're focused on. Build suspense for your character occasionally showing the reader where they are on the emotional roller-coaster. Describe a flashback and how your character reacts to it or makes a pivotal decision based on it. Emotions are a good thing to describe in full detail, for the reader at least. You could always go with the thoughtless and emotionless style when it fits your character's personality, but really when you leave out all mentality detail of some kind your post will have a lot fewer words to draw in the reader making it seem bland. So basically the important things pertaining to mentality to describe are simply,
  • Thoughts and Opinions-
  • Emotions-
  • Personality Traits

Action~
Again, this is pretty straightforward. It entails movement and expression of a character. Being someone who strives to one day publish an animated series, I can easily say that this is my favorite thing to elaborate on when RPing. The way I go about thinking of a good description to add for a character's movement is I think of the scene I'm creating as if it were about to be filmed on camera. What does a good film need? Since you see the details on the screen already, the only thing left to elaborate on is motion and expression of a character. Try thinking your character is the movie star and they're following a script. Movies aren't just all dialogue. There's expressions and movement to add realism and/or intrigue to the scene. It's no fun reading something so full of dialogue that you don't see someone's facial expression. Adding movement can be part of expression, too. So, just two simple yet important things to consider describing when it comes to action,
  • Expression-
  • Movement-



Further tips~
  • Try using analogy and metaphor occasionally in times where you want to describe something yet you don't want to be too wordy.
  • To avoid having to write all physical appearance details in every post, a lot of times it's good to elaborate on as much of the important detail you can in your first post. You can just gradually make note of little details here and there as you RP in a topic, but don't leave out physical descriptions that someone can make their character react towards.
  • Try looking back through your post before you put it up and read it as if your were reading it for the first time. While doing this, ask questions here and there to yourself about things you can elaborate on. Should your character be able to just reach for a jar of pickles in the fridge with out trouble? Maybe there's clutter in the way of the pickles or the pickles aren't in their normal spot your character leaves them when their done? You write that your character is eating the pickle, but how fast are they eating it? You write that your character was surprised. Wouldn't their eyes widen and heartbeat go faster?
  • Don't forget stepping-stone details! Especially when you're the one replying to a topic. When someone puts up a detail about something being gross, cruel, enticing, physically attractive you have to at least try to make your character respond to that.
Last edited by kaidan K on Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.
People talk about combining the Way of Learning with the Way of the Samurai,
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but when properly combined, they aren't two-they're one.
Only one Way, Takezo.

~Takuan Sōhō, Musashi
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Re: Please DESCRIBE this for me!

PostPosted by Hanya » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:56 am

This is actually pretty helpful, I've been trying to work on adding better descriptions to all of my posts.

also, sequin.
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Re: Please DESCRIBE this for me!

PostPosted by kaidan K » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:11 pm

Hanya wrote:This is actually pretty helpful, I've been trying to work on adding better descriptions to all of my posts.

also, sequin.


I'm glad it's helpful! That's why I put it up, anyway.

Also, thanks. Fixed. *thumbs up*
People talk about combining the Way of Learning with the Way of the Samurai,
Image
but when properly combined, they aren't two-they're one.
Only one Way, Takezo.

~Takuan Sōhō, Musashi
Profile page | RP request page | the Way of the Artist
User avatar
kaidan K
Blind Justice
 
Posts: 469
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:51 pm
Location: Over the Hybrid Rainbow
Gender: Male


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