Well, this sums up why I RP

  • Pitcrew

    "Authors also create lovable, friendly characters—then proceed to do terrible things to them ... This makes readers feel hurt and worried for the characters. The simple truth is that authors like making people squirm. If this weren’t the case, all novels would be filled completely with cute bunnies having birthday parties."

    Brandon Sanderson, Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians

    This is also why I am so bad at fluff scenes.

  • Pitcrew

    @silverfox It used to be that there was a difference between an author and a roleplayer in that an author controlled all the characters so no one's feelings were hurt when something bad happened to a character & the author avoided most flak for writing the hurtful, worrying thing - while a roleplayer needed to be at least somewhat mindful of not hurting other roleplayers' feelings lest they lose a roleplay partner.

    Nowadays, authors run the risk of getting 'cancelled' for writing anything too far beyond cute bunnies having birthday parties, and roleplayers who play villains are practically paralyzed in terms of their roleplay unless they're willing and able to expose their real, OOC selves in ways they may not be at all comfortable with in order to ensure other players that they are in fact a nice, sweet, caring, nurturing person with your best interests sincerely at heart and that there is no risk of anything bad happening unless you actually want it to happen - and that they're willing to be crucified ICly when you play up the victim angle IC without confirming to anyone that you've gotten all these cuddles and assurances from the villain OOCly, thus leading to the crusade for their OOC head on a platter for being problematic.


    I'm gonna go

  • @Pandora Fucking so say we all.

    The only thing I'd add is that the OTHER major difference between an author and a role player is that an AUTHOR is someone who is intentionally trying to use the craft of writing a novel to create an entire story, cast of characters, and plot all by themselves for the purpose of publication with regular edits and chapter-focused scenes. A ROLEPLAYER is someone who is socially playing a form of make-believe for their own enjoyment, be it with text or dice or handcuffs or plaid skirts.

    Mercedes Lackey (ole MMO clanny of mine) once told me "Roleplaying isn't writing". She is 100% right. Writing is a whole lot more than just making a character and trying to showcase it, and IMO if people on these games stopped considering it to be some kind of avant-garde writing showcase it might be a more inclusive environment.

    Wanna write? Go for it. Create a plot, characters, and get into the craft of writing dialogue between 2+ characters, forging moving chapters, and wrapping it up into the great American novel. I'm sure plenty of people are willing to help edit.

  • @Ghost said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    Mercedes Lackey (ole MMO clanny of mine) once told me "Roleplaying isn't writing". She is 100% right.

    Respectfully, I think she's 100% wrong.

    At least in the context of MUs. Tabletop RPGing or LARPing is not writing, but MUSHing absolutely is. I mean, we're literally writing.

    We have characters. We have scenes. We have plots that sometimes tie together into larger stories. We have dialogue.

    It's not the same kind of writing as writing a novel, but all kinds of writing have different characteristics. How you write a novel is different from a short story, or a novella, or a screenplay, but they are all still writing. Also, how you write a story solo differs from how you write a story with a team.

    MUSHing is a hobby that blends collaborative writing and gaming together, to a degree that varies depending on which specific game you're talking about. In that, it definitely has unique challenges compared to other kinds of writing. But it is still, inescapably due to the medium, writing.

  • @faraday Counterpoint.

    I gave this some thought a while back. I used to think the same thing that you just posted. What changed my mind about MU being writing is the following...

    First, for a hobby about writing there sure is a lot of NOT writing. PBs have replaced character descriptions to the point where people have to race to pick up their favorite PB before it's taken. Some people are still into writing it all out and creating creative setting pieces on dug rooms, but it's not across the board. I'm sure there are other places (I'm just waking up), but there tends to be a lot of "move it along" and waiving of written description in lieu of pictures on a wiki.

    Secondly, I think people speak of it as "collaborative writing", which i suppose it could be between specific players. As a whole? Its 20+ players all stabbing at similar plots with individual efforts and little coordination. I cant remember ever playing on a game where the plot outline was detailed beforehand and group conversations were had about necessary scenes, plot development, and who would be in charge of writing from X character's perspectives. I would say more so that players make a character and try to coordinate, but see @Pandora above; the end result isn't really intentionally collaborative writing as it might be described as "loosely collaborative storytelling environment where some characters are so clearly idealized extensions of the player that it can be difficult to do anything outside of what others want to happen". There is no chapter craft, no coordinated plot progression, and you could say that scenes are crafted, but most of the time (in Mu) a scene isnt something you go into with a point, but more to "see what might happen and it keeps going until someone gets bored or has to sleep". Turns are not taken in any form of novelization. A novel where every other paragraph is some writer taking a turn without pre-planning the content of said turn with the other author would be horrible. It reads differently.

    So, I cant feel that this is evidence of actual writing, but a roleplaying hobby that considers it to be because they're emulating the style of writing. In truth, most published authors in the hobby have either left or consider their writing to be a separate entity from their RP hobby.

    What happens in MU is something nebulous, but I would describe it more as a "text-based Second Life" before I describe it as being in the same vein as what Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, or Jim Butcher (former MUer) do for a living.

    In fact, the MU paragraph/turn style may hinder one's ability to get out of that mindset to make better, less purple, more impactful writing pieces. To be a writer, a MUer should get out of that MU mindset and dig into exactly what these novelists are doing, how it's done, and understand the importance of how those novels are put together. The writing style of an author/novelist is entirely different. There are no "poses", 8 paragraph purple prose entries are simply not novel quality no matter how much people think they are amazing, and the writing level of most contemporary writers targets the imagination of an adult at the reading comprehension level of an 8th grader.

    So, counterpoint. I still agree with Mercedes Lackey. People can disagree with me as much as they want, but until someone publishes a 75000 word chapter of a 25000 word per scene log list of a MU that has 450 scenes, I'm gonna have to agree to disagree.

  • @faraday

    Respectfully, I understand the context in which she made the comment and agree with her completely. Also respectfully, I believe you moved the goalposts to make your point.

    Lackey's opinion, to me, relates to the difference between improv acting and script acting. Your opinion, to me, suggests that because we are writing something when we MUSH we are engaged in the act of writing and therefore are writing.

    And, to me, both opinions are correct.

  • @Ghost said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    but most of the time (in Mu) a scene isnt something you go into with a point, but more to "see what might happen and it keeps going until someone gets bored or has to sleep".

    I think that depends on the game, and on the games I've played, that just isn't the case. There are story arcs, on an individual level, a game level and in-between ('seasons' or 'arcs' or what have you). The story thread on BSG:Pacifica was pretty cool, IMHO, and it even had a nice big finale and an epilogue and everything.

    I think MUs have more in common with episodic TV show screenplays than they do with novels. Right down to the "crap, Michael O’Hare quit and now we have to write out a big character" type of comings and goings.

    Still writing to me. So yeah, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  • @faraday said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    Still writing to me. So yeah, we'll just have to agree to disagree

    Totally. No love lost. Just perspectives.

    Also, siiiiick Bab5 reference there, killa.

  • I'm seeing one point missing in this discussion: Writers like to relax too. I should know, I am one.

    I will readily agree that writing scenes for a mush is not writing as in writing a novel, not even close, not even on the same planet. However, writing a novel is a very lonely job. You're entirely alone with your 60k-120k piece for the duration of writing it, editing it, editing it again, and only then can you start hoping for some kind of feedback from beta readers and editors if you have one. It may be literal years here, where you get nothing -- nothing -- socially out of writing.

    No wonder, then, that you need to take breaks. Talk to people. Use your passion for words in interaction with actual real people.

    Many writers use writing prompts in a social context. They subscribe to some blogger who tosses out a 200 word prompt every morning, and then discuss what they got out of it with other subscribers, or they join Facebook groups with similar purposes. All in order to challenge themselves, write something they wouldn't have written for their novel, get forced out of the familiar. And to talk to other people because did I mention that writing is a very, very lonely job?

    To me, that's what mushing is. I love roleplaying games, always have -- but mushing draws me before more grinding-type games because they let me write together with other people. Get feedback. Talk about it in and out of character. Explore my own headspace and theirs. Learn new things.

    So, if you ask me, this is very much a writers' thing. It's just important to differentiate between mushing because it's a fun and great exercise and social opportunity, and deluding yourself into thinking that your collaborative fan fiction somehow is the next New York Times bestseller. It's not. But practising and playing may you enable to write that bestseller, some day.

  • @L-B-Heuschkel said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    It's just important to differentiate between mushing because it's a fun and great exercise and social opportunity, and deluding yourself into thinking that your collaborative fan fiction somehow is the next New York Times bestseller. It's not.

    Totally agree. MUSHing is writing where I don't have to do ALL the work myself and I can get immediate gratification of having other folks read what I've written and (hopefully) be entertained by it.

  • I'm with Gany on this one. It's writing. It's just not the same thing as novel/story writing; these two things are very different animals. The scripted/improv comparison is dead on, really. There's overlap, but there's overlap in watercolor painting and oil painting, too, but we'd never consider them the same thing.

  • @surreality said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    There's overlap, but there's overlap in watercolor painting and oil painting, too, but we'd never consider them the same thing.

    I'm not trying to be argumentative here, honest. But I'm genuinely confused.

    Watercolor painting and oil painting are both, literally, painting. Putting a brush to a medium to contain the color to make a picture.

    I don't see anybody saying that MU writing is the same as novel writing, or that MU writers are anywhere close to being in the same league as James Patterson and Mercedes Lackey. What exactly is the argument here? That we're not writing? That it should be called something else? I really don't get it.

  • @L-B-Heuschkel Yea. Solo writing can be very lonely. I've struggled with that silence. That's why theres so many groups about contact and support to keep people motivated.

    Yanno, I might even suggest a sub-board about writing on this forum. I think one truth is that MUers may consider this to be writing, but if they actually want to write something to get published there are a number of very common things in MU that need to be unlearned altogether. Stuff like:

    • Scenes in a book are not tennis-style all of the time. Characters in a novel dont take turns or rotate on a token ring
    • Chapters have a focus going in. If you take 22 pages to get to the point, you may lose the reader
    • Purple prose poses that are 9 paragraphs long need to be unlearned. The more impact in the less word salad is often the better. Hit harder, not lengthier.
    • Learn to write more from the character's perspective with less focus on impacting the other player. A lot of MU text is very self-aware of its own audience

    I think a forum/thread focusing on writing and writing advice would help encourage people who want to try to get published to do so, but also help them be prepared for it. Popular MUer != Good Writing Habits.

  • Pitcrew

    Yes, I take the "RP isn't writing" in this context as "RP isn't the same process as writing your own work, despite both involving writing" and I think it's very apt. I've actually witnessed it be difficult for players who are kind of novelists first in their heads to loosen that control for RP. It's a totally different process.

  • As a writer (as in: writes for a living):

    MUing is not remotely the same as novel-writing and I believe that's likely what the spirit of Lackey's comment was to @Ghost. I have met a lot (a lot a lot a lot) of MUers over the years who fancy themselves writers (penned with a flourish) because they RP.

    They aren't. You're not.

    With writing (as in novels, scripts, technical documents...) there come things like outlining, editing, having full creative control (which @Pandora hinted has somewhat changed in this shift for an obsession of 'my fun not your fun'). You're writing for an audience in professional writing. Yes, even someone writing a novel. You don't write a novel for yourself (after all it can just stay in your head). You write it to tell a story to someone else.

    RPing, on the other hand, is like doodling. Sometimes you might come out with something really great you want to share, but 99.9% of the time it's just fun scribbles for yourself. There's no editing (not in the same vein), there's no outlining (in the grand scheme of things; if you outline your character's entire story and expect to see it happen you're gonna have a bad time), and the story is, arguably (and not in a negative connotation!) just for you.

    I like RP because it's lazy and casual and not as structured, rigid, and demanding as professional writing. I also like RP as a test bed. A lot of the time I'm testing writing methods/styles or characters (in my current novel, my protagonist was once trialed as a PC on a game... she's not in the novel exactly the same, but elements of personality and background definitely exist).

  • @Ghost said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    writing on this forum.

    add the Creative group, n00b.

  • @faraday I think she's specifically talking about 'writing a novel/short story/etc.'. Basically, we would call ourselves 'roleplayers', not 'authors'.

    They're both still writing to me. Just different kinds.

  • I'm genuinely not a pandering person, but I kind of want to upvote literally everyone on this thread because I genuinely do agree with everyone's perspective here, including the people who disagree with each other. And that's pretty rare.

    I think MU* are what you make of it. (Sparkling cliche, I know.) I think it's an incorrect blanket statement to say RP isn't writing but certainly, depending on how you do it, it can be very poor writing, and I'm not just talking in terms of technical writing capability. If you're using a MUSH for wish-fulfilment to just make a sexy blank-slate extension of yourself, sure. There's not a lot happening there that the average reader would care to connect with (but I mean, it worked for Twilight, YMMV).

    You absolutely can, however, find the right people with similar intentions to write meaty, consequential scenes with a full cast of colourful, three-dimensional, flawed and interesting characters with diverse relationship dynamics. You absolutely can have two characters hate each other's guts without players behind the scenes having their feelings hurt and not having a good time. One of my favourite people to RP with in this hobby — @dev — is someone I almost always make IC frenemies/rivalries with because we just enjoy having that kind of dynamic and without knowing we get on like a house on fire OOC, you'd be very easily forgiven for thinking some problematic shenanigans were going on and that you need to get involved to stop some villain from raining on the other's parade or whatever.

    Good Omens was written by two very talented authors and is largely from the perspective of two very enjoyable characters. I don't know how exactly they sat down and wrote it together, if they took turns giving each character a voice or what, but the finished project, which was collaborative, is spectacular and fun, and definitely feels like it contains elements of each author's usual flair and style.

    I do yearn for something @Pandora touched on; less "fluff" oriented dynamics and storylines where it's OK for characters to have tension without anyone getting upset OOCly. Sometimes I do wish that players wouldn't make it so easy for characters I've intentionally written with flaws to get a free ride to be themselves unchallenged. Sometimes I do wish someone would call them out and take me on an exciting, wonderful journey of character development, instead of just clinking glasses over how great we both are.

    But you know what? Every now and then, someone bites. And that makes it all worth it, in the end. It is perfectly possible, if not easy, to find other writers who are in this hobby for the exact same reason you are, and make that magic happen.

    Tangent: I will gladly join @Ghost in launching a campaign to burn the played-by trend at the stake. Finally someone said it. Write your fucking descriptions, people.

  • @Auspice said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    @Ghost said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    writing on this forum.

    add the Creative group, n00b.

    Ugh. Okay. Perhaps.

    Though looking back I think you nailed it.

    Okay, so MU may be "writing" in the sense that players are emulating the concept of writing dialogue and content in a novelesque style, but writing is not the same as being a writer, and no one is going to go down in history as being a prolific MU character writer. So if you want to be a writer, one will have to achieve that outside of MU.

    I still think my "Text-Based Second Life" reference was hot fire.

  • @Kestrel said in Well, this sums up why I RP:

    Tangent: I will gladly join @Ghost in launching a campaign to burn the played-by trend at the stake. Finally someone said it. Write your fucking descriptions, people.


    It's a very simple way to be a better writer. Each character is its own little writing project to showcase your ability to flesh out the character using your skills as a writer.

    I always feel like "PB over description" is a missed opportunity to actually treat the hobby like it's a writing hobby.

    I wanna read, god damnit. Tired of seeing all these actors and actresses and want my mind to make new faces.

Log in to reply