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Old 06-12-2018, 08:09 PM
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Your classroom Begon Udo

Welcome to the Writer's Block! This thread will be your personal classroom, and it in you will proceed through a series of lessons and exercises intended to bring out the best writer in you.

For your first task, I'll need you to go through your existing games and find me three posts emblematic of your work. They needn't be your best or your worst -- we're just looking for some average representations of your writing style. Try to vary the context a bit if you can (combat, diplomacy, etc).
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:35 PM
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Before finding this site I had never wrote a single fiction paragraph in my life. I really do appreciate the opportunity to improve in any way possible. Here are 3 recent posts

1: Drevan coming to terms with being a revenant.

2: Vigdis embarrassing the boys.

3: A DM post from my Lost Mines of Phandelver.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:14 PM
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Cool, thank you.

We are going to set those aside for the moment, and use them in a later exercise.

Before we begin, I just want to let you know two three things:

This is your space, and we proceed at your pace. I will give you some exercises (homework), but you can do them in an hour, a day, a week, or whatever. It's your pace, you take your time.

I will be offering my opinion, a lot: my job here is to have an opinion, not necessarily have the right one. So, you may not always agree with what I say or think of your work, and you are free to debate with me on that. Just know, starting out, that my job here is to have an opinion, and push you to be better.

and lastly: It may not always seem like it when you are in the middle of the homework, but many of the lessons are built to work from earlier lessons. Not saying you have to learn anything, and use it, but... sometimes, later exercises are easier if you remember earlier ones.



Oh: and generally, when we ask for "a game post", I usually want something in the two to five paragraph range. I do NOT expect novels, short stories, or entire pages filled with text. We have a lesson on brevity, but I thought I would get that out of the way too... more verbosity is not always the answer to good writing.


Ready?
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:16 PM
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_______________________________________

Lesson 1
_______________________________________

PREFACEAs a player (or GM), your goal is to write a good, solid post each time you interact. One way to think of a good, solid post (GSP) is to think in fours:

A GSP contains a DESCRIPTIVE element, a HOOK (or ENGAGE) element, an ACTION element, and a MOTIVE element. Getting one, two, or all three into a post will help your fellow gamers out, and improve the quality of your post. Not all posts will have every element, and they don't need to be in any order, but the more you can work into a series of posts, the better.

I like trying to include these four elements because they give a GM (and other players) reminders of who you are, and give them little hooks to latch onto in their responses, i.e. it helps to ENGAGE your fellow gamers. It also tends to help the GM when the time comes to write THEIR posts, and honestly, anything you can do to help a GM makes you a better and more memorable player. It also helps the GM, because he is usually summarizing your posts in his own during combat, so knowing that you use daggers (for instance) is nice. So, your post shouldn't be that you simply "swing your weapon;" instead, use your MACE. Better yet, CRUSH them with your MORNINGSTAR. It lets your GM add spice and flavour to the post too, without having to open six threads and look to see what weapon you favour. It can't always be done, and sometimes you just have to do your thing with your post. But it helps, and if you practice, you will improve. The more info YOU provide your GM, the better for him/her to remember you and use. The same goes for your fellow players.

for exampleYOU know that you have a half elf archer, named Desethet, but for a long while, your fellow gamers and GM don't really know that. People forget things in between posts, and you should remember, most people who play here in one game are probably playing in another 3, 4, or 6 games at the same time. It may be a day, two days, or even a week since they've looked over and thought about the game, so do what you can to keep your PC fresh in their minds. Most players become focused on themselves, and people won't click open six pages of threads in order to find your character background. So, help them out. Use it every post, when you can. Give them your name, your race, age/gender, class, etc. right there in the game thread they are reading.


A good rule of thumb is to try to not use the same term to describe your character twice in a row. The first time you mention them, use their name. Then, instead of their name the second time, use their class. Then, switch up, and use their gender, age, race, ethnicity, etc. before you repeat.

exampleKari wasn't sure if she liked the idea. The half-elf had never trusted wizards, especially those who seemed to offer free gifts. "No strings attached?" the druid asked, doubting it even as the words tripped across her lips. She hadn't live to the ripe age of fifty without learning to listen to her instincts.


Element 1: Descriptive elementsEvery post you make should contain some descriptive elements about YOUR PC when you can work it into the post, without becoming "clunky".

NAME, RACE, GENDER, WEAPON, and CLASS are common descriptive elements that can be sprinkled about in almost all game posts. I think almost every post should contain your PC's NAME, period. There might be a time it isn't appropriate, but that's a rare, rare post.

Gender and Race are usually easy to work in (except, for some odd reason, HUMAN). But once again, unless it's blatantly obvious from your PC's name (Queen Anne), working your gender into most posts is going to help cement your PC's persona into the minds of others. If you are playing a character in a game who has a bit of fey/faerie in him, use Wildling, Feyling, Feytouched, Fey, Fairie, Faerie and rotate through them as you speak of his actions. This is just to remind everyone else in the game that he's not human, he's a bit of a nature child.

Class is usually easy to work in, but it can become easily overdone. For some variety, head to your lexicon for some synonyms. Tired of saying "wizard" all the time? So is your GM, most likely. Try mage, arcanist, conjurer, thaumaturge, evoker, etc.. And remember, "spice"; a sprinkle here, a dash there, not slathered on like roofing tar.

Another descriptive element can be an idiosyncrasy, a tic, a habit, a peculiar mannerism, a physical characteristic or attribute that helps define your PC as well. This is up to you, but many gamers find it helpful to have something unique about their PC, to help identify them, and make them stand out in a crowd(ed post). That may seem like a lot, but if you practice it, it becomes second nature.


Element 2: Hooks or Engaging elements
Every post you make should contain, if possible, some action or event to link/hook/engage/snag the other players. The simplest of hooks is to use other player's names, or to refer back to the DM's post and use elements from that. It sounds simple, but everyone loves seeing their name (or their PC's name) in a post. A slightly more useful engagement is to ask other player's a question, or to interact with the DM's NPC's through actions or questions. Lastly, it's very powerful to tie in an action of theirs into yours, or suggest an action in your post that they can carry on in their own.

In large parties, you aren't likely to hook every person and every NPC in each post, but you can try to spread them around across several posts, trying to weave your story with theirs. Remember, you aren't just gaming with the DM and his monsters, you are gaming with other players as well, so respond to their actions, include them in your post, and you'll find your posts more interesting. Your fellow gamers will too!


Element 3: Action elementsEvery post you make should contain some kind of ACTION that forwards the plot. Sometimes, this is easy: you swing a sword or cast a spell, or jump across a moving platform. Other times, it can be harder, because you may feel there's little you can do while in a tavern waiting for your contact to arrive, but remember, you can look, drink, listen, twist in your chair, etc.. You don't have to simply sit perfectly still and wait.


Element 4: MotiveA good post doesn't just describe what the character is doing, it gives us some window into their mindset and why they're doing it. This is especially true of quiet or taciturn characters, who may simply never hold many conversations with others, or those otherwise without much dialogue, and of deceitful characters. Motive can often be shown in thoughts, and the use of thoughts (formatted in italics) can also set your post apart. Getting inside the mind of your PC, especially in mid action, can allow for some VERY expansive posts, and properly done, can give us great insight into their egos, motivation, and emotions.


By giving others these reminders, these descriptions, you encourage them to draw you into their posts too, and increase the ties between PC's, so it isn't just a bunch of people posting their own actions, it's an INTERACTION. It actually becomes a collaborative writing effort between your post and your fellow gamers.
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:16 PM
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Exercise 1.1

Please improve the following post by rewriting it using any number of the four elements (Descriptive, Engagement, Action, Motive). You can add elements, ideas, even other players into the post as needed.

Quote:
Tobias searched the body of the dead goblin, to see if there was anything else of importance. He kept his weapon ready in case something else surprised him. Don't want to be surprised, he thought.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:51 PM
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Exercise 1.1Tobias gingerly picked over the rancid goblin corpse, feebly poking at it with the worn wooden handle of his large war hammer. The young dwarf knew that, while appearances might suggest otherwise, there might be something of value to be found on the filthy beast. Ay...ye never ken what ye may find on these crafty bastards. Might just git lucky today! He thought as he rummaged through the pockets of the sickly green goblin’s threadbare vest.

As the warrior continued his search he made sure to keep track of Elon. The hare-brained tielfling had a habit of shirking his responsibilities during moments of rest and Tobias did not want to find himself in battle again due to lax security.

The dapper, yet persnickety dwarf motioned with his war hammer and drew the attention of the almost napping warlock. He jabbed two stubby, but well manicured fingers in the tieflings direction and growled, “I be watchin' ye slacker!” The well armored fighter than turned towards the venerable elf ranger, Vistia, who was busy searching the chest in the far corner of the room and called out, "What have ye found thar elf...anythin' worth mentionin'?"

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Old 06-14-2018, 12:20 AM
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Very nice. I can also see, when we get to the lesson on Dialects, you will be well prepared.

Good descriptions, incorporating some of the senses, some nice internal dialogue... good, solid post.

And since you will be writing a lot of such posts in your career here on RPGX...


Exercise 1.2

Same as before: improve the post below using any number of the four elements.

Post
The paladin reeled from the pain and hissed at the spider as though he suddenly gained some knowledge of how they communicate. It seemed as though he too would need to reevaluate the expected tenacity of his opponent.

Being mindful of the furniture, Slyter did his best to get the nightmarishly large creature flanked by seat or sofa before lashing forward again.
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:29 PM
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Exercise 1.2Slyter fell back as the scurrying spider’s claw skidded across the lip of his iron shield. The curved claw bit into the paladin’s cheek and drew a jagged line of blood across his face. Helm hold me...I have to get out of this room. The paladin of Helm scrambled backwards, growling in outrage while trying to match the chitinous’ beast’s naked aggression and tenacity.

The lithe elf scrambled on his hands and knees across the floor, his eyes darting about the unfamiliar room, looking for something to interpose between himself and the advancing horror. For every second that the spider delayed him, the wicked warlock Vrazzk, slipped further and further away. The monstrous arachnid reared up on its rear legs, green tinged venom dripping from its fangs. At the last moment, Slyter spied a rickety bar stool, hidden under a layer of cobwebs and dust, in the corner of the room.

In desperation, the agile paladin dove across the floor, rolling through the spider’s stabbing legs. He reached out and grasped the stool and without looking, turned and shoved it forcefully into the beast’s gaping maw.

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Old 06-15-2018, 06:13 PM
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Nice, you even added a villain as motivation. Nice touch.

I think you are having zero problems with this lesson, so... let's skip some of the practices, and move towards the end (not all the way, but almost).



Exercise 1.5

Same as before: improve the post below using ALL of the four elements.

Post
Completely taken by surprise by the axe blow from his opponent, Tordak staggers for a second, only to find the poison on the blade to be burning him intolerably. Shaken, he gathers what energy he has left and prepares for, he hopes, the final blow.

"You DIE this moment, worm!"

The barbarian seems to be growing more furious by the moment, but a combination of dodging and armour allows Tordak to avoid another hit - a good thing too, as any solid hit at this stage will likely knock him out, if not kill him outright. Tordak swings his mace again, and calls to his friends to attack.
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Old Yesterday, 09:16 AM
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OocWow...this one was quite difficult Please proceed in ripping it apart as needed!
Exercise 1.5Tordak focused in on the scurrying red scaled kobold as it darted about to his left, away from his blood glistened mace. The elderly dwarf quickly circled his stance towards the right, trying to keep the reptilian beast from flanking him. As he shuffled and turned he was suddenly struck across his armored right shoulder by a shoddily constructed stone axe. Ahhhh...they never fight alone these bastards. I shou' have known better!

The barbarian staggered and dropped to one knee but immediately regained his footing and his bearings. As Tordak spun about, looking for his assailant, his vision became clouded and his senses dulled. A sharp burning sensation erupted in his wounded shoulder and began to seep throughout his body, nerves firing randomly.

The grizzled barbarian dwarf stood at the ready, his body caught in the midst of excruciating tremors. He growled at the nimble kobolds, “Ye DIE this moment, worms!” Bravado notwithstanding, Tordak knew that he couldn’t fight much longer, he needed to end this battle now.

Gathering what remained of his considerable fighting spirit, Tordak launched a spinning attack towards the kobolds, feinting high while hitting low. As he spun, he nimbly ducked under a clumsy swipe from his original red tinged enemy and then reversed direction parrying an overhand chop from his darker skinned kin. The pace of the battle continued to grow as Tordak shook off blow after blow, his armor holding firm, but his ferocity diminishing with each passing moment.

Tordak, his rage now spent, prayed for deliverance. He was ashamed that these two mangy beasts had withstood his assault. For the first time, the old dwarf was forced to accept that he might have actually lost a step. Me lord...brin' me ta ye table if thats what ye want, but brin' me home in victory...I beg ye.

As if in response to his prayer, Tordak looked across the room, towards the far entrance and saw a flash of blinding radiant light. As the kobold’s turned and shielded their nocturnal eyes from the harsh light, Tordak saw the familiar silhouette of a shuffling little gnome who called out, “Looks like you could use some assistance Tordak...have no fear...the cavalry has arrived!”

Feeling a renewed sense of hope at the appearance of his dear companion Scupper, Tordak leapt forward, knees creaking in the effort. He brought his chipped mace down on top of the distracted red kobold’s skull. “Send them ta hell Scupper...straight ta hell!”
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Old Yesterday, 09:54 AM
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You handled it quite fine. Not a thing wrong with your post and writing.

If I had any comments (and honestly, this is a quibble, only because you kind of asked for me to tear into it), I would say that you could have formatted it a bit tighter, with less whitespace (I almost NEVER say to have less whitespace). But even then, there's actually not a paragraph that you have less than three sentences, which is right on the mark for an average paragraph (3 to 5 sentences is usually a "solid" paragraph, excepting conversations). You might, just barely, be able to combine two of your paragraphs into one longer one:

The barbarian staggered and dropped to one knee but immediately regained his footing and his bearings. As Tordak spun about, looking for his assailant, his vision became clouded and his senses dulled. A sharp burning sensation erupted in his wounded shoulder and began to seep throughout his body, nerves firing randomly. The grizzled dwarf stood at the ready, his body caught in the midst of excruciating tremors. He growled at the nimble kobolds, “Ye DIE this moment, worms!” Bravado notwithstanding, Tordak knew that he couldn’t fight much longer, he needed to end this battle now.


Not sure it's an actual improvement, but it is a different look at the post. I took the liberty of dropping the "barbarian" description in the second part of the original paragraph, since you used it already in the first para.


Ready for your next exercise? Last one of the lesson.
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Old Yesterday, 09:55 AM
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Exercise 1.6 - Wrapping it up

Write a post about a Halfling Rogue with a crossbow and a cleric named Amy interacting in a forest on a moonlit night. If you have difficulty writing dialogue for another gamer's PC, you can imagine them as an NPC that you have some control over, or imagine you are a GM, and you can control your own NPC (and the words of other NPCs).

Your challenge:

You must describe both characters' RACE, CLASS, and WEAPONS without using the words Halfling, Rogue, crossbow, or cleric. You must also include some type of hook/engagement to another gamer (a dwarf named Gorfan) that would draw them into your post/story AND use all four of the narrative elements we discussed (Descriptive, Engagement, Action, Motive).
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Old Yesterday, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for the feedback! This next one look like fun for sure.
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