Wednesday, 17 November 2010

RP for XP

I'm not an educated writer. I'm not an educated anything. I don't have fancy diplomas that supposedly mean something. I'm self-educated in everything I do, from writing to drawing. I'm guided by friends and family and the connections that I have. But I'm just your average highschool graduate, ergo I am always learning.

However, I've been making up stories for as long as I can remember.

There's a habit I have that  began in childhood that I never grew out of which is at night, I would imagine characters in situations. When I was young it was usually characters from cartoons. I would imagine it until I eventually fell asleep. I still do this only now it's with original characters.

Like every typical child I played Imaginary Friends with the neighbourhood kids, acting out what our characters or alter-egos were doing. In truth, I never stopped playing.

Only now I call it "Writing".

In highschool I got into roleplaying which involved not only tabletop RPs, but also writing the stories down in binders and notebooks with other people. It involved no stats, rules or anything else. It was complete free-form story writing. Around that time I was also RPing on IRC and over ICQ and email.

The more I did this, the more my writing evolved. When looking back at old archived RPs, it's truly embarrassing. It's all very childish and attempting to be edgy and deep. At the time characters seemed tortured and angsty and when revisited, well, I just want to smack them. Hard.

But it's only RP, right? It doesn't mean anything...

A few months back, I got into a mild spat with a friend over the quality of writing in an RP we were writing. My character knew he was going to receive a lecture due to certain actions and he was not much in the mood for it, so he was rather apathetic and taciturn. His motivation being the sooner the lecturer vented, the sooner the whole experience would be over.

The other RPer commented that she wasn't "feeling" the scene, and I explained my character's motivation, pointing out that in the prose I had made it clear. She wanted to do it over anyway.

I said "It's just RP". This hurt her.

She pours everything she is in everything she writes, no matter what it is. She is constantly honing the craft. That's impressive.

To me, RP is relaxation, it's downtime. While I have to think, I don't have to polish, I don't have to revise, I don't have to pin any expectations on it.

Regardless I know that RP has taught me numerous valuable lessons about writing. I am always mindful of terms and language and dialect. I am always focused on things that the characters  would or would not say. Constantly I delete dialogue muttering "Dude, you wouldn't talk like that, you don't know words like 'vernacular'."or "Dude, you don't say 'dude'."

Where I know RP aided me the most is characterization. The ability to get inside the spark of an idea and create a multi-dimensional entity with flaws and faults and unique quirks is amazing.

What I said to my friend isn't really fair. RP has at one time or another made me run the whole gamut of emotions. I've cried when characters die, I react in disbelief when a character does or reveals something unexpected. I laugh at their idiocy or the heart warming moments.

There is validity in just writing, in talking to yourself, in playing pretend.

All fiction comes from an idea, the source of the idea is irrelevant.
Sit down.
It's ok.

Next up: Fanfiction!


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