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When to SPEAK, when to THINK, and when to DESCRIBE


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one thing I am running into and having confusion with is finding out when it would be best for my character to speak, even if it's to no one in particular, when to have the character think the line (via italics or similar), and when to describe what the character is feeling at the moment (like "Kallera felt blah blah blah, a slight reminder that she needed more blah.")


Is there any advice with this? I want to make sure I'm giving the next responder enough to interact and play with on their next interaction.

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I find that internal thoughts are best left for forum roleplay, and not so much for in game roleplay! Ultimately, no one can read your character's mind. It's nice flavour I find for well forum roleplay, but not so much in game roleplay; because it tends to be a lot more faster paced and less detailed ect.


You can always just skip the internal thoughts, and instead if they are for example nervous, make them smile nervously, fidget ect. So the person you're RPing with CAN pick up on that, because their character can SEE yours doing that.

That's not to say every character will act onto it, by choice or not, but you give them tools for their characters to interact with yours. Because well, they can't read your character's mind (or I assume they can't because most don't).


But really, there's no right or wrong at the end of the day! Best of luck o/

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I'm going to echo a lot of what Virella said. By and large, people keep their characters' internal thoughts to themselves since others can't just read their minds and know what they're thinking. It's much better to, as Virella mentioned, use your character's actions to show how the character is feeling, rather than just telling.


This could be as simple as using -ly adverbs, but sometimes I do find myself clarifying or summarizing a character's disposition when it's the result of multiple motions or expressions (e.g. "John folded his arms and gave Jane a flat stare, clearly not believing her." "Lara sat quietly and got a distant look in her eyes, the gears in her head clearly turning as she processed the information.") I also usually just say something along the lines of "gave such-and-such an incredulous look" instead of going through the long form of all the different visual cues (motion in the eyebrows, staring, leaning in a bit, maybe a slightly slack jaw) that would create that effect. Sometimes, I'll have one, maybe two of those cues, but never the whole shebang.


Outright using thought like internal speech, however, isn't very fruitful, as no one else can hear you think and they have no way of reacting to it. At best, people might view it as a flowery and unnecessary addition in a medium that's usually concerned with space constraints, and at worst, you're opening the door for someone to magically know things they shouldn't or running the risk of someone forgetting two months down the line that you only thought that super incriminating thing about yourself and didn't say it. Any internal thoughts you write essentially become OOC knowledge that needs to be kept separate from what the characters know, and they come with all the same baggage.


Anyway, that got a little soap box-y, but I hope that helps!

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I like to put the emotions and thoughts my character is having into my emotes because she's the kind if person who isn't really capable of hiding her true feelings. Something like "Jana shuffles nervously, the look on her face obviously pleading for the situation to end."


If your character isn't the same way and isn't meant to be obvious, you can still include their thought and feelings in your emote: "She kept a cool face, lazily gazing over the crowd as she hid her anticipation for what was to come."

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I won't disagree with the "do what feels right" suggestions, because really this is a hobby activity that we all do for fun, and you should not feel compelled to follow a specific set of rules or to even "do it right".


But I do think there are differences between that and discussing what is most expected, and what is most effective.


I think the suggestion that expressing thoughts is something that should really be left to prose posts on forums, or stories.  I say this for a number of reasons, but most especially because RP emotes are largely meant to be taken in the context of "this is what your character is experiencing", and they cannot read thoughts.


That said there are exceptions, and there are times that I do express thoughts in emote form, but they're rare and often intended humorously.


In terms of expressing emotions: I would suggest not straightforwardly expressing emotions, but instead utilize the wealth of communication potential in body language.  We often share our emotional state indirectly through our expressions, posture, pose, voice, and movement.  That is, probably, the greatest gap between real communication, and text communication, but we can draw upon it to voicelessly communicate to other characters in players in our interactions.

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Describe (emote) what you do not what you feel. Like others said you could add some emotional descriptor for effect.


Internal dialogue is between you and your character, so think it yourself but don't expose it. Unless they want to speak it.. Deadweight slapped his right palm over his good eye and she shook his head slowly, "I can't believe I fell for that! The Captain will kill me."


Also have you character speak, because no one knows unless they speak. Most people wont even think about others as they are focused on playing their character.


The exception I would say is for comic effect, but keep that for light occasions. Deadweight considered the odds, and he found them incalculable for his tiny thuggish mind. So with a broad smile of hope he handed the sword to his would be victim so they could show him the right way to run a man through.

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So keep in mind what I do is a controversial thing. I've gotten my ear chewed off by people with some differing opinions in the past, but I will throw thoughts, feelings, internal dialogues, nearly anything into emotes. I write in third person omniscient when I emote, even in game. This is not right or wrong, but it's not always considered 'good.'


So play devils advocate for me for a moment. Here is why.


The act of roleplaying is at it's core, an expression of a fictional character to another person. It's a team effort. Anything your audience doesn't know, has no value. This doesn't mean it's useless, or that you are doing something wrong! But rather, these private facts or feelings only exist once it is out of your mind and onto the chatbox or page. These private thoughts, feelings, expressions, can be almost essential to knowing the full situation or to fully grasp your character in a given moment. To hide that from your audience is to deny them the full picture of the story they are creating with you. Yes, they are not controlling that particular character, but both players exist outside the world your creating.


This is meta-gaming. I know for many that is a sin, but I do not believe it's inherently bad. To use emotes to give another player information they otherwise wouldn't know, is giving them a perspective they otherwise wouldn't have. It can be a very powerful tool. Especially for introverted or silent characters. Instead of just standing there, you think. You feel. You get confused. You move with context. There is something for people to read, maybe OOCly they get an inside joke because of it. When done properly, it can enhance a scene.


But! You are breaking an unspoken rule. It's important you do so with intent, and confidence. I don't recommend it to people who are new to role-playing or haven't the ability to explain why they are emoting what they are.


To sum it up, I think of it like this. Roleplaying is just a form of creative writing. Creative writing is like any other piece of art. First you learn the rules, then can you break them.


And always remember: This world is fake. No one has more authority on it than anyone else. Be respectful of your fellow rp'ers, take into account their preferences, but don't be bullied by them either.

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To sum it up, I think of it like this. Roleplaying is just a form of creative writing. Creative writing is like any other piece of art. First you learn the rules, then can you break them.



I think you are correct for many folks, and a lot (like myself) come to this place from a more vocal approach to RP. Examples would be tabletop and live action role play, we probably think is pictures not words and may not be that into writing at all.


So what we have is a mash-up of styles in a virtual melting pot. That is why, depending on your tolerances, some people you will get along with their style and others will piss you off. That does not mean any is good or bad.


I suppose I'd add, do what feels right for you as there will be others with a similar approach.

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I feel this is a relevant clip for this discussion:




In all seriousness, though, I like to believe it's simple enough to give general emotes that can kinda-sorta tell what your character is thinking for others to pick up on. However - and I've seen people do this - when you're doing paragraphs of what's going on in your character's head a la a film noir scene, it might be necessary to trim it down some and remember that, as mentioned, most other characters are not mind-readers and a lot of that would be impossible for them to pick up on. I think a hard-and-fast compromise is adding just enough to provide enough context for the message you're trying to convey to your partner in the RP scene.


* She hesitated, having been burned once before by something like this.

* He cast the line with the experience of several cycles experience at fly fishing.

* He took in the scent, closing his eyes as memories of grandma's home cooking flitted across his mind.


... I dunno. Something like that.

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I consider roleplay to be a cooperative effort like anyone else does, but I try to weigh a lot of my posts with "how does this move forward the scene." Failing that, a simpler "does this give my partner(s) anything to respond to?" Roleplay is like tennis in my opinion: If the ball never gets to the other side of the court, it's not much of a game.


To that end, I find 99% of internal emoting and dialogue worthless. As an audience, sure. Seeing other people RP that way, it gives me insight I wouldn't otherwise have. The thing is, not everyone is your audience. Some people are your co-stars. Anyone interacting with you might find it wonderfully interesting that your character thinks back to something, but if you don't put anything out there to earn a response? I think that's sort of inadvertently downplaying the give-and-take of a scene. It's somewhat similar to the wallflower discussions that pop up every now and then: Without a hook or something to draw other people to you, it means everyone has to work harder to get anything worth a damn out of someone else.


It makes roleplay a one-sided game of pursuit. When people actively resist becoming engaged or deviate from an encounter (in walk-up, anyway, formal groups tend to ignore most of the rando-RP "norms") it becomes a chore for some.


I also tend to do most of my roleplay in just dialogue. I'm atrociously bad at emoting anything in expressive detail beyond general actions or movements and to some degree I blame MMO roleplay being a visual medium, but that's covering my own ass and excusing it.


Thoughtful edit: I am a fan of one-sentence offshoots that give players more depth of someone's character. I am bored to tears by the paragraphs-long waxing and navel-gazing that is just IC-blogposting in an MMO format.

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Thank you for you responses and I'll continue to welcome more. I've found myself writing lots of internal dialogue but emoting and saying not a lot of stuff. That might work for unconsciousness but not for someone that is actively interacting or wants to get closer and easier to get along with to people. so I'm going to make a good note of that, that a post that is mostly dialog and emotes is not necessarily a bad post if the actions and motivation are conveyed in a clear manner.

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Thank you for you responses and I'll continue to welcome more. I've found myself writing lots of internal dialogue but emoting and saying not a lot of stuff. That might work for unconsciousness but not for someone that is actively interacting or wants to get closer and easier to get along with to people. so I'm going to make a good note of that, that a post that is mostly dialog and emotes is not necessarily a bad post if the actions and motivation are conveyed in a clear manner.


Not all posts need dialogue, keep in mind. If you're capable enough at it, it's perfectly fair to just demonstrate an opening without the need to verbally prompt someone. If you're asked about a touchy subject, for example, emoting distress and looking away or otherwise descriptive body language can be just as powerful as outright telling someone something.


Like Gegenji mentioned, I've also seen people just string together long runs about thinking of their harsh journey and how difficult their life was and how challenging it is for them to hold together despite the immense crushing pressure of their responsibilities and - good for them, but if you don't mention any of this at all in your body language or expression, it's not possible for people to jump in on that juiciness.


If the only way you leave for someone to get into your attention is to force them to metagame, that feels unjust to me. Just one dude's opinion!

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Writing and role-playing are two different things. When you're writing, you're strictly entertaining an audience, not directly interacting with other people.


When you write, you have license and ability to put all the thought and feeling that you want, because you're the only one telling the story, so you should knock yourself out. This works in forum RP to a an extent because you cannot physically see anything going on around you, so expression must be explained and expanded upon.


When you Role-play, you are interacting very directly with one or more other people, so beyond a couple adverbs now and then to allow for something the game mechanics will not, a lot of description is unnecessary and really slows down the pace of RP. We don't need to know everything that your character is thinking, because they should say it to someone else. They should not have an inner monologue with themselves as if there is no one else around. If there are things that the character is thinking that are being kept to themselves, then the other RPers don't need to know it either. Their characters can figure out what your character is thinking based on the situation at hand and your characters reaction.


As to description, the game IS limited in what you can do. You can only move in certain ways, emote in certain ways etc, but if you need more than a single block of text that the game permits to describe something outside of combat, you're probably going on too long.

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I tend to rely on actions and speech for the most part. I also tend to emote actions as well, generally with text off unless we are somewhere traffic heavy. I do throw out thoughts sometimes, generally for humor sake.


Personally I am not a huge fan of para unless it is needed for description - like a DM'ed event. If we are sitting having tea or something, I rather if be shorter as if we were speaking to each other.

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Thank you for you responses and I'll continue to welcome more. I've found myself writing lots of internal dialogue but emoting and saying not a lot of stuff. That might work for unconsciousness but not for someone that is actively interacting or wants to get closer and easier to get along with to people. so I'm going to make a good note of that, that a post that is mostly dialog and emotes is not necessarily a bad post if the actions and motivation are conveyed in a clear manner.


I'd say that's definitely a good takeaway. Heck, some people are even fine with posts that are pure dialog, though I personally really like having accompanying emotes to catch those things like body posture and a person's expressions. From the sound of it, you put in enough thought and care that I don't think a lack of detail will be much of a concern.

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I'm gonna toss in something really important that (in my admittedly brief skimming) I haven't seen anyone else mention yet.


I can't respond to your inner thoughts.


That's the biggest issue, imo. A player can say all kinds of stuff, even mean and rude stuff (and yes, this happens)(a lot), and I. Can't. Do. Anything. Back. My characters aren't mind readers.


As an example, I was rping one day and my rp partner said something. I responded. They then said, "lol, i didn't say that out loud." : |  Ok, so I'm just supposed to stand there looking dumb? No thanks.


This is not fun.


Can someone's inner thoughts being broadcast be funny? Of course! But are you there to roleplay with other people or to just entertain others with your funny commentary?


As others have already mentioned, there are many ways to add in body language and expressions, patterns of speech, etc. through your /em text.


Example: /em winced as he overhead someone mention a house fire. He rubbed nervously at the burn scars on his arm and seemed to shrink into his seat.


There. That's all stuff that other people can actually see on their own and respond to. No inner thoughts about fear, pain, and memories needed.

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I don't do "inner dialogue" in role play.  I can't presume other characters can read minds and I certainly wouldn't want them to.  And I definitely don't want to read other character's minds.

FFXIV has a number of useful emotes and I have macros for the ones I use most and I have my UI customized for play and for role play.  One thing that I can't do is through emotes is display the subtle movements of Mia's ears and tail.  I will write out what her ears and tail are doing if it's relevant.  For example, if she's getting irritated with someone.


/em Smiles at you weakly using only her lips as her tail swishes quickly from side to side.


If you know cat behavior, that's a sign of getting angry or intolerant.  If you don't know cat behavior, that's fine too.  As a role player, I don't expect you to know what I'm about or where I want to go.  


In fact, I don't usually have a plan.  It's like meeting and talking to people in real life.  I don't have a plan for an interaction.  If, after 20 minutes or so, it's not going anywhere, I might excuse myself and move on.  My point is, I don't want to use people to further my own plot.  If our conversation serves to move my plot, that's great.  If not, that's also fine.


And sure, it can be frustrating for the person I'm role playing with.  They don't know what I was looking for but that's like real life too.  If we are getting together to specifically work out a scene or a plot development, that's different.  But just casually role playing a chance meeting, I don't want someone writing their life story into internal dialogue, expecting me to read it.

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When to speak - A pretty simple rule of thumb here is to ask yourself what you would do or what would be appropriate IRL. Sometimes we may talk to ourselves or mumble things aloud, but we don't speak out our every thought or talk to ourselves at length in public, because it just makes you look like a crazy person. Unless your character is a crazy person, when it would be logical for your character to speak, or when you want to clearly convey an idea directly from your character is when to speak.


When to think - I guess I'm going to break the mold here and say that internal monologue is okay. I'm really not sure why MMO RPers have such a stigma against it. Sure, we've all run into people who ramble on for paragraphs in thoughts we can't respond to, or who have used internal monologue to get in passive aggressive OOC inspired jabs, but people misusing the idea doesn't make the idea itself bad.


You insert your character's thoughts into the RP when you feel it adds something meaningful to the RP--something funny/witty to entertain the other RPer, some important detail that gives us more insight into who your character is as a person, etc. You'll need to clarify whether your character's thoughts are potentially being broadcasted via their expression and body language, and you'll need to make sure that there's some more substance to your post. The other character can't respond to your character's thoughts alone, so you'll need to give them something more substantial to reply to in your post. I'd also be cautious about sharing any negative or rude thoughts your character has, as this can be used as a way to toss around insults while pretending it's all IC yet also being immune to the any IC consequences from it. Even if you're not using it this way, it can be mistaken for it if you aren't careful.


Use thoughts when you want to convey something about your character (usually for purely meta value) that is too complicated or abstract to get across simply with body language, and that your character for any reason would not speak aloud. Don't use thoughts when you expect the other character to pick up on them and react to them (they might, if you make it seem like the thoughts or obvious and/or if the other character is intuitive--or they might not). Use thoughts sparingly and impactfully, and try to avoid using them when you could simply use description instead, which brings us to...


When to describe - Always! Whenever possible! Description is good! You can show us how your character feels. Put your character's feelings into their body language. The better your character is at hiding their feelings, the more subtle and subdued you can make the cues. The flaw here is that sometimes it may be unclear what the body language is supposed to mean--misunderstanding and miscommunication do happen. Sometimes that ambiguousness is good--in real life, you don't always have a perfect insight into someone else's feelings based on their facial expressions. But sometimes, you may want to convey something more clearly, in which case...


You can also tell us how your character feels. You can outright state that your character is happy, sad, etc. The flaw here is that, much like with thoughts, unless you specify, the other role-player will not know if these feelings are visibly obvious to their own character. It's a lot more impactful and makes the scene feel more real for your RP partner to have an idea what your character looks like, what they are doing, what they sound like, etc. That being said, imo the most effective thing in most situations is to show and tell. You can combine the two to tell us how your character is feeling is clear to see ("Her expression was forlorn.") or you can use both at once ("She jumped up and down, ecstatic.").


The only time I would avoid using description is when it's something you don't want the other character to pick up on (i.e. don't say your character frowns or that she is upset if you don't want the other character to have a sense that your character is unhappy). Otherwise, description is almost always useful to have, and only best left avoided when it's a scene that calls for short, quick emotes and/or doesn't involve much complex emotion to need described, like a casual conversation at a crowded place.

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I guess it depends who you're writing with. I'm not terribly attached to either style, and will pepper internal monologue or fourth-wall breaking pieces into my emotes here and there. So far, no complaints -- if people don't like my RP style, they have the choice of not RPing with me. Actually, more often than not I get whispers from strangers saying my RP made them laugh or smile and that's always nice to hear.


Just do what feels natural, don't use RP as a means to be nasty OOC, and don't assume reactions for other characters. You can say a lot with body language and play with your emotes to decide how much you want to conceal and how much you want to reveal, and that depends entirely on the type of character you write and the kind of scene you are doing. Sometimes it's just easier to say "Marcellain looks perturbed" than typing out four paragraphs about chewing nails and pulling hair in the corner.

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I find I vary it based on what mood the scene I'm writing has. More serious = more "showing", more speech. More silly = more "telling", more amusing internal thoughts.


I say "I find" because the switch isn't really conscious, but I can definitely see it when I review my chat logs. >.>

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