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Advice/Help Stone's Comprehensive "WTF is detail" Guide

StoneWolf18

Within the Depths of a Dream
Moderator
Stone's Comprehensive "WTF is detail" GuideIt's all too frequent that I see people say something along the lines of:

“I don't know how to add detail.”

Which commonly means, I don't know how to make my post longer than a few sentences. Now that necessarily isn't a bad thing. Some people prefer shorter posts, others haven't been writing for while, or maybe it simply just doesn't 'click' with you like it does some. Or maybe you never really cared to pay attention in your high school English classes. But if you do want to increase your posting length without filling it with purple prose or controlling other people’s characters, then you, my friend, have come to the right place!

Disclaimer: This is my method for adding to my posts, as it just comes naturally to me. This is by no means an official thing issued by RpN and most definitely not required in anything you are writing. Just thought I’d throw out a more updated guide is all. And, if you have a better method that works for you, great! Stick with it. I’m not trying to step on any toes, paws, fins, tails, and so on here.

The Wills and WIll NotsWhat this guide will contain:
  • Tips on how to lengthen posts by adding more detail without being over the top/annoying and frilly.
  • Give examples of helpful and not-so-helpful descriptions
  • A list of random little pieces of advice
  • Link resources
  • Possible references, sarcasm, and a few jokes here and there. (If I was actually funny..)
  • Cake!
What this guide will NOT contain:
  • A for-sure method for enhancing your posts, as everyone is different.
  • Fancy BBcode
  • My fire mixtape
Step 1: Establishing a SceneThe first thing you wanna do whenever writing a post is get down the basics of what is my character doing, where, and why. Pretty simple whether in the middle of action or heavy dialogue. That’s a pretty basic post you might see in a simple roleplay or maybe when you roleplay on disord or any other IMing service. Its short, sweet, and gives out the basic main idea of the post. But can we go deeper?

I dunno maybe… it ain't like I can write or anything...

Step 2: The SettingYes so we are aware where the characters are, great! Lovely! Amazing! I need more. So after this, try and elaborate more on where they are. This doesn’t need to be a detailed description of the drapery hanging off the windows in the corner of the room, feel free to be general but if there is something you want the reason to specifically focus on, focus on it yourself.

Step 3: The Five SensesI like to treat characters as if they were another living, breathing, person. That being said, the characters would experience the stimuli (things) happening to and around them. Things such as:
  • Sights (E.x colors, actions, physical objects/beings)
  • Sounds (E.x the sound itself, the intensity, pitch, tone, volume)
  • Scents (Ex. The scent itself, its intense or subtly, the undertones)
  • Tastes - Hold up. Yes this one is possible without actively having to be eating, drinking, or basically putting something into one’s mouth! Smell is after all a large portion of taste (which is why we hold our noses if something tastes bad or something tastes almost exactly how it smells.) The air could be thick with an ashy-tasting smoke, blood from a head injury casting a metallic taste, and so on.
  • Textures (E.x how rough or smooth it is, comparing the texture to something the character already knows, whether the character is fond of the texture or not, etc.)
These in combination with the emotions, thoughts, and other such things they spark within a character is a GREAT way to add to a post. And if you don't know how to describe it, google is a great resource.

Step 4: Inner MonologueOn the subject of characters being actual people, they must also think to themselves similarly to how we do all the time. So add their thoughts! Normally, people would indicate these by using apostrophes but that isn’t always necessary. I just add it into the flow of the text such as:

She had been waiting in the booth for almost a half an hour, and even though the restaurant was extremely busy, a watier still hadn’t been her way. What on earth was taking so long? Did he take his break? End his shift early? Regardless, it didn’t matter anyway for here he was coming now with an apologetic look upon his face.

Its in bold there. The characters thoughts. You don’t always need to interrupt the middle of a paragraph to insert ‘something like this.’ It isn’t necessary.

Step 5: Show, Don't TellOnce again, another step playing off of the idea that characters are real people. The trick is to instead of telling me what the character is feeling, show it through their actions. An example would be instead of saying:

He was anxious.

Instead write:

His eyes flicked nervously around the room, unable to stay in one spot for long as his weight shifted from foot to foot. His sweat-coated hands were shoved deep into his jean pockets while his mind raced with possibilities that only made his face pale further in response.

Here we can clearly imply that the character is eating themselves up over something, rather than just telling the reader.

Step 6: Characters are People, Not RobotsWhat I mean by this is, people do things in their daily lives without realizing it. It could be something as simple as standing a certain way, forgetting what they were going to say mid sentence, using "umm" and "uhhh" when they want to continue but don't know how, starting new phrases without ever finishing their old one. This one can easily make characters you portray seem much more alive and lifelike then if you simply wrote them as, well, a robot.

Step 7: When Writing, Rules Don’t (always) ApplyNow, yes. Grammar and basic knowledge of sentence structure is nice and all to make it readable, but this was some of the best advice I had gotten from an author while young. Its actually what got me into writing more. If you’re struggling with roleplaying because you don’t think you know enough as an English major, I would toss those worries away. So what if you can’t begin a sentence with the word ‘And’ and can’t use more than a few Adverbs in an entire work or need to use commas in a certain place. Take the words and literary devices you have at your disposal and use them how you see fit. Not a textbook or a teacher. I believe if we all wrote perfect English, the world would be boring. We wouldn’t have authors such Charles Dickens with his insane sentence length and others like him.

(Note that this is specifically for a roleplay perspective. Not an academic one.)

Extra: On Writing Nonhuman or otherwise Fantastic CharactersI wanted to include this because it's another thing I see happen often. I enjoy playing a nonhuman or mage as much as the next guy, hell its the reason I roleplay (okay okay there's plot and other things in there too, but besides that...) but there's always parts neglected about the character that could add more to the post itself.

Let's say you have a character with, I dunno... wings. If the character is stuck with them (meaning they can't be hidden in any way) and they're clearly present on their back, they can and should be used when the character is expressing... something! For example, is the character is angry...

Her eyes narrowed deeply at his remark, hands balling into knuckle-bleaching fists. Drawing her lips back into a snarl of sorts, the wings upon her back extended somewhat, her feathers quivering trying to give herself a much larger and intimidating appearance without even realizing it.

Make sure to call attention to them subtly and often, but don't make the character revolve around their traits. There is a happy medium I assure you!

Extra: On Writing as a GM or in a 1x1There's a reason I prefer to run my own roleplays aside from being a power hungry and strict ass and play in 1x1s. The world, depending on a few things, is free for you to manipulate and construct. So what if you already have a large portion of lore created or your partner has already built up the world for you, take charge! I've been able to write posts that exceed 5k words just because I've been able to world build and play NPCs. This also why I leave the plots on my partner search so vague, because I come up with things as I go.

Extra: You Don't Have to be the Very BestThat no one ever wasssss... what I mean is, if you're struggling to get massive posts out each time or the added bits are pure fluff then don't include them. A large portion of the time, most people and partners are forgiving about a swaying post length as long as you give them enough to work with. I know I rarely stay around 3 paragraphs, especially in dialogue. If you are sure about your partner, GM, or so on, ask! I'm sure they'd be happy to explain their rules on posting.

Other Little BitsJust some more information I thought was necessary to toss in here...

Helpful VS Not Helpful Description
  • Base physical traits we're already aware of such as height, hair color, eye color, and so on are all unhelpful.
  • Clothing is unhelpful unless the character is wearing something they normally wouldn't, but My Inmortal length descriptions aren't really all that great.
  • Little things are helpful! Maybe they had just gotten out of bed. You could describe how messy their hair is, but what about how rumbled their clothing is for falling asleep in what the wore yesterday?
  • Setting is always great to throw into a post, but don't go too far as to make it not so helpful.
Personal Pet Peeve: Repetition
This is why I can't stand reading anything in the first person. To me, using the same word in close proximity to one another is awful and sounds horrible to me. If I'm writing a roleplay, I'll use other nouns for characters instead of their name, or have synonyms for words that I really wanted to use again and again. It just sounds better to be that way.

Resources
  • Thesaurus.com is a great resource to vary up your word choice, but please avoid from using it too much or your writing will become a purple-prosey mess.
  • Fighter's Block is a fun little way to get yourself a little motivated to write! Just set in your desired word count goal and click fight to be put up against monsters that slowly loose health as you type. But for each moment you sit idle, you will also take damage. A pause function is available so don't worry about dying all the time, haha.
  • Suggest things!

Sample PostFor those that would like to get an example. I am by no means a grand writer, so please keep that in mind!
Sky was distracting herself. Truth be told is all she ever did since Chloe went missing. Being overworked to the point where she didn’t have time to pause and think about all the possible ‘what-ifs’ or grieve. She had already allotted herself time to break down, and if she were to stop now, then she doubted that she could force herself to get up again.

The woman had been up early as she always was, 6 AM sharp and already taking inventory. The leader of their settlement, Sophea Valentinov, an aging russian hard-ass with a knack for keeping people in line was clearly taking note of this, watching worriedly from a distance. Whether it was pure concern for Sky herself, or for the community she watched over (as she was one of the best they had) it couldn’t really be distinguished as she would make her way over. “You should really be resting more.” The older woman scolded her, her accent making the words difficult to disconcern to those not used to her speech patterns. Sky marked a few more notes down on the nearby clipboard, having to push with the pen to get ink to flow. The weather had been growing colder, which mean they needed to stock up before it grew too frigid to scavenge. “You tell me this every morning, Vedus. And every morning you know I don’t listen.” The younger woman called her vedus, a shortened version of vedushchiy (ведущий) which meant ‘leader’ in russian. It began as a joke among the settlers here but soon it was found out that that Sophea was rather fond of the title, so it was kept.

Sophea rolled her bright eyes at this, but still remained by her side as she finished counting and recording. Glancing over the barrels, bags, and boxes with a sour expression forming. “We’re running low on food…” She muttered, the cans and other such goods dwindling by the day. Looters had gotten through their stationed patrols and raided the stores that they were saving, taking a large majority of the non-perishable food items. Water wasn’t a problem as they had access to a makeshift water filter that was going to keep them going for many years to come. “There might be a few crates of supplies let at the south NYPD checkpoint.” Sky thought outloud, shifting to look the concerned russian in the eye. “Aye, go, but-” As the teal haired figure turned to leave, her right arm was grasped with an iron grip. “Be careful.” She commanded. “Don’t do anything stupid as we don’t need to loose any soldier.” Sky hesitantly nodded in response before jogging away, going to her tent to prepare for the excursion.

After putting on a darkly colored jacket over the tank-top she wore, set of leather gloves, holstering her glock 22 (which has been taken from the NYPD police department’s armory) on her hip along with a sharpened military grade knife she had received from her girlfriend on their first christmas together, and slipped on a small backpack to not only carry her haul but with a few other supplies as well.

Exiting and finally heading out on her way, she ignored the gaze of Sophea as she exited, knowing that this was simply a routine run.

Sky had made a small detour on her way there, to a small corner store that her and Chloe used to frequent before hell broke loose. There was a small stash here that she resorted to should they need it, the elderly couple that had stored it all giving them they key before escaping the torture that life had become. Thankfully they had passed with each other and weren’t not only alone, but not risking becoming one of those shambling freaks. But at the same time, she was still willing to fight as the fear of death was still wholly present in her and many other's lives.

Entering the establishment, she moved behind the counter and dug in her pocket for the key, inserting it into the lock. But as she was about to turn the object to open the trapdoor, she felt the cool muzzle of a gun up to the back of her skull. “Stand slowly.” The young man spat, digging the weapon in deeper. He held the weapon sideways, a clear mistake. Slowly rising to her feet, she was about to finish standing when she sighed.

Having a girlfriend in the National Guard really paid off.

With a quick and practiced motion, she unsheathed her knife, spun and drove it into the man’s arm. He cried out, dropping the weapon. As she removed the blade from his flesh and kicked his pistol away, pushing him to the wall and holding the knife to his throat. The 16 year old eye’s widened, terror consuming him. “Fucking idiot… Get!” She shouted, letting him go, the kid scrambling over the counter and out of the building faster than he could’ve ever entered.

After grabbing a few canned goods from the stock below, Sky exited the building and continued to the checkpoint, it soon coming into view with a few apparently unlooted squad cars littering the area. Entering an alleyway, she began to sift through the first one, prying open the door and getting a good look inside as a beastial snarl filled her ears. Cursing as she realised one of the infected had tracked her down, she grabbed her pistol out of her holster and held it out, prepared to fire when her breath caught in her throat.

It was undeniable. Her features, the uniform…

Chole.

Or… was would be more of an accurate description.

She looked awful. Bloodied and broken, disheveled from days of stumbling around blindly with what she assumed an intent to kill.

Sky’s breath quickened, body shaking as she tried to take a step back, to get away from her but soon seeing that she was backed up against the police car. She tried to open her mouth, to say something but her voice was unfortunately buried beneath a constricted throat.

What the hell was she going to do.

Ending ThoughtsI could most likely find more to add but I'm going to stop myself here. If you have any questions on anything above, have a suggestion to add something, want to comment, or anything else, please feel free to do so! And if you feel like you want some extra help extending your post length, don't be afraid to shoot me a PM.

Oh... and uh, the cake was a lie by the way. -braces for abuse-
 

NekoQueen49

女王の猫
What?! No cake? You horrible fiend!

Anyway in all seriousness, this is a great guide. Several of the tips I use myself (when I'm actually in the groove of writing). Another thing I do is ask myself what my character thinks of the other character/s. Basically another version of don't your character be a robot XD Still, I could use some of these in my writing. We all have stuff that we can improve on, writing or no.
 

Bacon is fluffy

Wut'n th'name of davy jonez lockr is uh sall-add?
I'm personally against inner monologue. That falls under purple prose, fluff and unnecessary detail as it adds nothing to the rp. A character can not read what another character is thinking without the player being meta. While the responder can infer that the person with the inner monologue has some sort of body language that tips their character off, it's highly inorganic since it's a light form of control.

So instead of advising people to use this, I'd do the opposite and double down on showing it. Perhaps your character has a grimace or a deathly expression in response to there being no more tacos on taco day. Which is a lot funnier or dramatic(depending on the situation) than internal screaming.

Although inner monologue isn't bad. It can be a crutch without actual action being shown in the rp process. :)
 

StoneWolf18

Within the Depths of a Dream
Moderator
I'm personally against inner monologue. That falls under purple prose, fluff and unnecessary detail as it adds nothing to the rp. A character can not read what another character is thinking without the player being meta. While the responder can infer that the person with the inner monologue has some sort of body language that tips their character off, it's highly inorganic since it's a light form of control.

So instead of advising people to use this, I'd do the opposite and double down on showing it. Perhaps your character has a grimace or a deathly expression in response to there being no more tacos on taco day. Which is a lot funnier or dramatic(depending on the situation) than internal screaming.

Although inner monologue isn't bad. It can be a crutch without actual action being shown in the rp process. :)
Inner monologue is normally done alongside an action or expression while relying on it specially wouldn't work, which is why I had section 5 directly after it. So if the character wants to gripe internally about the lack of tacos while giving everyone else death-glares, that's perfectly fine.
 

Bacon is fluffy

Wut'n th'name of davy jonez lockr is uh sall-add?
Inner monologue is normally done alongside an action or expression while relying on it specially wouldn't work, which is why I had section 5 directly after it. So if the character wants to gripe internally about the lack of tacos while giving everyone else death-glares, that's perfectly fine.
It's your guide, but that's not actually stated in the guide. In fact, it would be super helpful if that was in there, to avoid someone actually doing this(monologue without action). If this was a serious guide and not just an idea dump.

Overall the tips were fine, but I've got a personal vendetta against inner monologue. Except for Sakura(naruto) that used to be cute
 

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