WHAT IS YOUR LEVEL?
It's a question we're often asked as roleplayers, and something that is very hard to define. Many sites define it these days by a number, the amount of words a person can churn out per post. However, there is a lot more to good writing than just the amount of words on a page, and indeed, some of the greatest works of fiction have been shorter than this very documentation.
So what does make a good writer, and how can we distinguish the difference between the different levels of RP in a manner that doesn't rely on something as completely superficial as word count?
Below I've attempted to define different levels of writing, based on what I believe good writing in roleplay is. Not all of these definitions will apply to all members, and just because someone fails to run their post through a spell checker before posting does not make them a poor player - there are exceptions to every rule. But first, let's look at what makes a successful thread.
SUCCESSFUL THREADS HAVE...
* Storytelling - do the players successfully communicate a story through the thread?
* Pacing - is the thread paced appropriately? Does it take forever to walk to the shops for no good reason, while it takes minutes for characters to travel hundreds of kilometres?
* Flow - are the posts easy to read, easy to understand and entertaining? Do you find yourself bogged down by irrelevant detail? If yes, the flow has been broken.
* SPAG - although good spelling and grammar is not necessary to a good thread, it certainly helps with readability. It's simple enough to fix, just run it through a checker before posting.
* Action & Reaction - characters should work together to attain a common goal. This means that if one character sits, the other should not mention them standing - if one character drops a bottle, the other should respond to the dropping of the bottle. This combines with storytelling to make the thread more complete.
* Sharing - this means one character does not hog the limelight. Especially in long posts, for a character to waffle on and accidentally take the moment well beyond where the thread was at the start of the post, leaving the others in the thread to play catch up.
* May not understand the conventions of RP such as the Mary Sue, god-moding, thread-hogging, explained below.
* Mary Sue -- the beginner's character may be overly perfect, attractive, depressive/self-destructive, the character may be 'evil with a nice side' or have a terribly tragic past that only presents it's effects in the character when attention is needed. We're all pretty familiar with the Mary Sue, and methods to avoid her appearing on our boards.
* God-Moding -- another well known RP phenomenon, this is where the player controls aspects of the game they couldn't possibly control. Whether by knowing information their character couldn't, by controlling other people's characters or by being all-powerful, god-moding is a standard no-no.
* Thread-Hogging -- this is where characters take center stage of the thread and effectively bulldoze over all other characters. It is not always intentional, none of these now well-known mistakes are. Learning to take turns telling the story takes time, and thread-hogging is an unfortunate characteristic of the beginner.
* Actions -- may be expressed in asterix's, as they are in some roleplays.
* Response -- the character may not respond to the previous posts in the thread at all, or may misinterpret the situation entirely. While the player may get the setting right, other aspects of the post may be off.
Handling the Beginner: Note that while these are some of the more extreme characteristics, there are exceptions to every rule. Some beginners will come to a board with a sound knowledge of writing, and may (despite the short amount of time they've been roleplaying) automatically jump to intermediate, or advanced. This level of play typically describes someone who is generally a very young player, who may not have a particularly good command of the English language. With the right guidance, any beginner can quickly make it up the levels to more advanced roleplaying techniques. It is up to administrators to be patient, and to teach where they can.
* The intermediate player generally has a better command of language, and understanding of roleplay concepts and regulations.
* Mary Sue -- the characters may still display some MS characteristics, but not to extremes. The player consciously tries to make a balanced character, and to play a diverse set of characters.
* God-Moding -- the player displays an understanding of god-moding, and makes a conscious effort to avoid accidentally control the environment around the character.
* Thread-Hogging -- the player plots with other members and allows other players a turn at the limelight.
* Storytelling -- the player successfully uses posts to further the story in the thread.
* Flow -- posts are entertaining, and not a chore to read. Posts may include irrelevant detail, but description is included, and the setting is more easily imagined than in posts from the beginner.
* Size -- although not relevant for rankings, the intermediate player makes an effort to match the size of other posts in the thread.
* Response -- the characters of the intermediate player respond appropriately to the situation, but may occasionally break out of character at convenient moments. Smaller aspects of other posts may not be appropriately addressed, but the post is solid enough to respond to.
Handling the Intermediate: Intermediate players are generally very easy to handle. They may require additional assistance and guidance if the standard of your board is particularly high. As most boards are rated intermediate-advanced, these players should have no difficulty fitting in.
* The advanced player has a good grasp of roleplay ettiquette, and plays appropriately. They play well with other players, create interesting and unique plots, and their writing is easy to read, understand and respond to.
* Mary Sue -- is almost non-existant in the advanced player. The player does not god-mode, and only ever hogs the thread while it is their character's turn, or unless it has been decided that their character will carry out all further action.
* Flow -- the advanced player writes a very interesting and engaging post, that drags the reader in and makes them want to continue reading. The post may still contain information that is not needed, may be longer than is appropriate to the thread, and may carry the thread too far and not give other players a chance to catch up - but in general, the advanced player avoids these higher technical mistakes.
* Response -- the player responds to the situation beautifully, with actions appropriate to their character, and writes a post that leaves the next to post with a lot to work with. The player is conscious of the story, and works to tell it with each post.
* SPAG -- the player is conscious of good spelling and grammar, and makes an effort to keep their posts as error free as possible.
Handling the Advanced: Generally, there shouldn't be too much trouble with advanced players. Most players will fall between intermediate and advanced,
* The Elite player is very difficult to separate from the advanced player, and is a level often only achieved by those who formally study creative writing. In addition to roleplay ettiquette and storytelling ability, the player displays strong writing skills that keep even the longest of posts engaging.
* Flow -- is something the elite player does extremely well, keeping all sentences clear and not confusing, turning each sentence into a tool to move the plot forward. The elite player does not allow their characters to become bogged down in irrelevant memories or observations that may be irrelevant to the thread at hand.
* Response -- the elite player deals well with responding to posts, and reads through the previous posts carefully, ensuring they fully understand the situation they are responding to - rather than slapping a post together after skimming the post above. Their character responds always in character, and does not deviate from who they are, however tempting the circumstance.
* Development -- the elite player allows their characters to develop through the storyline, and does not hang their entire character's evolvement on a single event. The elite player establishes their character in a number of relationships, and does not solely seek out romance - unless this is the purpose of the character, plot or board. Relationships are played out realistically, and not fast-tracked for the sake of getting to the 'good bits'.
* Sharing -- the player shares the storyline with other players, and seeks to enrich them by bringing other players into the plot. The player knows how to accept other people's ideas and 'curveballs' in the RP, and responds to them appropriately.
* Conduct -- the elite player conducts themselves in an appropriate manner both IC and OOC, and does not hold themself above the less competent writers on board. Rather, they offer assistance and help - and present themselves as good staff members, or leading members.
* SPAG -- the elite member has near perfect spelling and grammer, and though this may not come naturally - makes an effort to run posts through a checker to eliminate typos and simple spelling errors.
Handling the Elite: True elites are far and few between, and can be a great bonus for your board. Beware of 'fake' elites, those who classify obnoxiously high word counts as a substitute for talent. While it is entirely possible to write a long post that is both engaging and appropriate to a thread, it is a rare thing to happen each and every post. Elite members are those who display a remarkably high ability to roleplay, tell a story, and engage others in the story. Threading with an elite member is also a fantastic way to pick up tips and tricks, and the best of elites will only be too happy to help others improve themselves as players.
THE FINAL SAY
At the end of the day, there is no true way to define what level a person is. However, allocating labels according to a system based on ability and understanding of writing and roleplaying will lead to a much clearer understanding of not only where you as a member sit in your ability - but also where the boards you visit lay overall.
credits to: this documentation written by mousie of RPG-Directory
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