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 How to Roleplay, a guide

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Felix Barker
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PostSubject: How to Roleplay, a guide   Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:44 am

The Basics of the Basics

So you're new to roleplay! And it can be pretty scary if you're starting out on your own! Well never fear, for another Felix Barker guide is here to help make starting up a new roleplay site the easiest it can be. So let's start with the basics.


“Where am I?”

Well that's a good question, you've clicked through the internet and stumbled somehow (you aren't even sure how) on a site called The Fidelius Charm. This is a roleplay site set in the Harry Potter universe. Written by J.K. Rowling, this universe is vast an expanding. If you are unfamiliar with the book series, I suggest you give it a read!

If you are familiar with the books, then you know just how expansive and dynamic the Wizarding World is, and people have taken advantage of that dynamic and made a multitude of forum roleplay sites. These are sites set up so members can post threads with other members while writing as though they are a character in the Harry Potter Universe.

So that's the essence of roleplaying forum style, given the universe, the time, and the practice, any fandom can be roleplayed!


“So... how do I roleplay?”

When you first start a new site, it can seem pretty overwhelming. There's lists and claims and applications, but don't fear! Sites usually have a Getting Started area, such as ours. This area is chock full of information, from the rules the site follows, to helpful guides on what to do first.

Here's a quick guide on what you should do on OUR site!


“That's not REALLY talking about roleplay though..”

Well everywhere needs a start, and in order to start roleplaying, you have to create an account, as that guide talks about in greater detail. Once you're gotten your character set up, an application filled out, and all of the right lists posted on though, then it's time for the real fun to begin!

There's a few areas where you can find roleplay buddies, the The roleplay request area is a great way to find someone to roleplay with!


“Someone just offered their character for me to roleplay with!”

Awesome! Now the tricky question, do you want to start the thread, or ask them to? If you're busy, or completely new to roleplay, it's never bad to ask the other person to start a thread. Of course it may take a little waiting for a topic to be created, but while you wait you can chat in the c-box, or browse the rest of the forum.


“Okay, so they made the thread!”

This is the start of your adventure! You've made a character, so you've got a personality in mind, the first thing to remember is that your character is NOT you. Their past experiences and life has shaped them into a completely unique individual complete with memories and friendships you may not eve be aware of yet!

The basic roleplay format:


All roleplays are done in the third person, past tense. This helps create a sense of time, and individuality to characters, as well as provide ample opportunities for more descriptions and thought processes going on with your character.

Correct: “She looked around in amazement at the Great Hall.”

Incorrect: “I look around at the Great Hall.”

The first one is correct, because it refers to their character as 'she' and the character did an action, completed in the past tense (looked).

The second is incorrect due to the use of first person (I), and use of the present tense (look).

How about a short quiz?


Can you spot the correct statement?

A. He steps down from the Hogwarts Express and stares in amazement. Finally! Hogwarts!
B. He stepped down from the Hogwarts Express and stared in amazement. He was finally at Hogwarts!
C. I step down from the Hogwarts Express and stare in amazement. I'm at Hogwarts!


Spoiler:
 


“Alright, that seems pretty easy, but this person posted such a huge post! I don't know how to write that much!”

Don't worry! Everyone starts out somewhere, and some people's posts can be a bit intimidating. Some members of sites have experience in roleplay stretching years! But we all keep in mind that we began somewhere, so if you can't quite match the word count, don't fret and try again next time!

The most important thing in a post, is making sure to read and understand what the other person has said. Their character is doing an action, setting the scene for an interaction between your characters. No matter what their character is doing, you should find a way to interact with that specific character. Think of it as an important scene in a movie. We don't see all the filler bits, such as moving from place to place, but we see the action. Well this is your action!


“Well I understand what the person is saying, but how do I respond to it?”

So they set the scene, and now you have to get your character involved somehow! Think about a reason your character is in that area at all, you can start a post by adding beginning detail, something not directly related to the scene, but maybe a reason for them being there.

An Example:

The other member has made a post on the Grounds at Hogwarts, and they are sitting by the lake, throwing rocks into the water. A great way to start the post would be to start from their common room, or another place entirely different from where they end up. Give them a thought process and a reason for wanting to go outside to the lake.

Once they get outside, now you have to get them to where the action is, where the scene is taking place! Perhaps they wander down and see the splashes made by the rocks? Maybe they don't see them at all, distracted by their own thoughts, and trip over the person! The possibilities are limited only by your imagination (and common sense).


“Alright, so I started the scene before-hand, and now they are at the right location! What do I do now?”

Engage! Start dialogue with the other character and converse. Say hello! Or in the case that you tripped over them, apologize. Some members like to start their posts in a way that forces action, such as running into someone, or tripping. This is a great way for your character to get involved and start talking to the other!


“What's the best way for my character to talk to others?”

Dialogue can be so different in different books, but there is a basic format to it: “Hello! This is a dialogue statement!” She said. All dialogue is surrounded in quotation marks, and end in a punctuation mark of some kind. If the sentence is broken by a statement such as 'she said' then you should end it with a comma. If the statement ends at that point, end it with a period, or in this case, an exclamation point.

An important thing to remember, is that dialogue can get boring if you use the same format for it each time. For example. “Hi, have you seen my cat?” said Bill with a sigh. “I've lost her and can't find where she went!” said Bill. As you can see, even in that short couple of sentences, said Bill can feel repetitive. It's okay to use 'said' a few times, but try using other words to vary and enrich your posts!

Here is a great list of words to use instead of said! 188 words in fact! Try using different words to give variation and depth to your posts!


“So my character said hi, is that all I need to do?”

The last important step in writing a post, is making sure you have provided enough detail (Through dialogue or action), for the other person to respond to. Starting out this may seem more difficult, but if you pay attention to other member's writing styles, you'll notice that posts tend to consist of multiple parts of different conversations, tied to one. You can respond to all the different sentences said, or respond to the conversation as a whole! Just give something back so that the person you are roleplaying with can respond back in kind!


“Alright, so my character tried to shake their hand, is that all?”

That should be great for your first post! The other member will respond in kind, and you two may continue talking. Sometimes posts don't always have to be amazingly long however, don't get tied up trying to make an interaction become pages of roleplay, occasionally it's alright to finish a roleplay early if there is no more action to be gained. Maybe talk to the other roleplayer about having those same characters meet again at a later date, now that they've met!

Starting a thread:


“The other member wanted ME to start the thread.. what do I do?”

Starting a thread is very similar to responding to the first post of a thread. Open it up with some before-hand action, and close it with something the other member can respond to. This way it gets the scene started and gives the other member a reason to join in the thread.


Use Detail!


Getting started in roleplay can seem scary, and when the other member posts are large, you may feel inadequate. A great way to make a post appear longer, and give more depth and quality to your posts, is to provide detail! Describing their surroundings, or providing thoughts made by your character that the other member cannot see, gives your character personality and helps us see what kind of person they are on the inside, even if their outward responses are different.

Thoughts are made in a similar way to dialogue, with one key difference. When made as a thought, try using single quotations, and putting the text in italics. This helps the reader separate speech with thought, and adds an interesting variable to your thread, to give it a pleasing look.


Spacing!

When making a post, keep in mind that large chunks of text can be very difficult to read! It's easy to get lost, and distracting for the other member to respond to. A great way to make a large post easier to read is to separate it into chunks. Take a paragraph (5-6 sentence average), or direct dialogue and press enter twice. This creates an empty space between sections, so that the person responding can easier see breaks in the action, dialogue, and overall improve readability.


Have any questions?


The Fidelius Charm staff (anyone with a pink or light blue name) are always around to help members learn and improve their writing quality! If you are nervous about posting and wish for more direct answers to your questions, feel free to pm any of the staff, and they will help direct you, or help you directly with answering any of your questions.

This goes for knowledge about canon situations (“What happens when a werewolf scratches someone when not in werewolf form?), questions about how to roleplay, and comments, questions, or concerns about other members or the site! If an admin is unable to help you, try asking another (everyone has different views and opinions on different topics), or look up some things about it yourself!

Now get out there and get roleplaying!
Felix Barker

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