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literacy level?

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              Hello, Gaia, and welcome to the guide! I've been roleplaying with Gaia as my choice site for a few years, now, and over time I've noticed a LOT of bad habits that very few people seem to be able to break. Instead of being the kind of asshat that goes around telling individuals that they can't write to save their lives, I decided to be the kind of asshat who spends almost an entire summer writing a guide as if she knows everything there is to know about roleplaying.

              Now, I will be the first to admit that I'm no deity when it comes to roleplay, but I feel I'm experienced enough to write this guide so that it'll be helpful to others. I've had other experienced roleplays look over the guide, make additions, tell me what to take out, and all that jazz, so if you don't trust me, you can at least take some comfort in knowing that I didn't do this alone.

              (That said, I'd like to throw out a large studio applause to Teh Stripe, for co-writing the grammar section.)

              Anyway, I encourage you to read the whole guide, whether you think certain sections apply to you or not, because you never know what you might learn even in an area you already hold knowledge in (also, there’s some stuff I'd like more information on and you're free to contribute if you know something). But the more I blabber on in the introduction, the less time you have to read the guide itself, so I'll pull this intro to an admittedly awkward halt, and invite you to spend your time (hopefully) learning about the wonderful art of roleplay.

              Enjoy.

              PLEASE READ:
              I may have left gaia (see my posts on p 237), but please feel free to keep on posting in the thread and helping each other out! If there's any regret I leave gaia with it's that I never got a chance to finish the guide properly. With my being gone, it's very possible and very likely that the thread will become outdated, so please take it with a grain of salt. However, a good amount of these tips should stay timeless, so don't feel like just because some of the trend-ish advice doesn't apply, all of the thread is worthless! Keep on writing, everyone <33
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              I think that most of Gaia is under the impression that this section doesn't apply to them. Time and time again, I'll see people making group roleplays, onexone searches, hell, guilds, who are talking about how they want people to use proper grammar, and they themselves can't write a single paragraph without messing up. Simple mistakes, folks, are what really kills your writing. So the first section of this guide is the biggest way to improve - and fast. We're going back to the basics - hopefully, you'll see a huge difference.

              Homophones
                See also: Misspelling

                Let's start off with the mistake made in the example above. Homophones. These are the words that sound alike, but mean two different things, like your and you're. Other common mistakes are too, to, and two, than and then, its and it's, and also their, there and they're. Hopefully, you should know what each one means on its own (if not, get a dictionary), and even the smartest person will make a mistake and use the wrong word from time to time. But just in case, you should learn when to use each word.

                So! Let's break it down.

                Your and You're
                  YOUR is only to be used when referring to something that belongs to the person you're talking to. That is YOUR character. This is YOUR roleplay.
                  YOU'RE is only to be used to replace "you are". If YOU'RE (you are) writing a sentence and want to use YOU'RE, read it again and make sure that you can write "you are" instead. If you can't, then YOU'RE (you are) using the wrong word.

                Too, Two, and To
                  TOO is a word that replaces the word ALSO. HOWEVER, TOO can also be used in place of EXCESSIVELY (ie, that is TOO MUCH.) If you cannot substitute it with ALSO or are not talking about an EXCESSIVE AMOUNT, then you have no business using TOO.
                  TWO is the NUMBER that follows ONE and precedes THREE. If the two/to/too you're looking at is not a NUMBER between ONE and THREE, then you should not write TWO.
                  TO is basically the too/two/to you use for EVERYTHING ELSE. If the word is not TOO or TWO, then you can use TO.

                Than and Then
                  THAN is the word that you use when you are COMPARING something. If you have less THAN three toes, you might want to see a doctor. Rather THAN using the incorrect word, I request that you use the right one.
                  THEN is a word that refers to the passing of TIME. First, Sally made a post, and THEN, she was told it had many mistakes, so THEN she went to this guide and learned how to improve.

                Its and It's
                  ITS is the word that you use when you are referring to something that owns something else. ITS nose was bigger than Mount Rushmore. ITS favorite game is scrabble.
                  IT'S is a contraction, combining the words IT and IS. If you cannot replace the word with IT IS, then you need to use ITS instead. IT'S (it is) a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater. IT'S (it is) labor day weekend.

                Lose and Loose
                  LOSE is the verb for when you do not win, or when you misplace something. You can LOSE a game. You can LOSE your puppy. You cannot LOOSE one.
                  LOOSE is the word for something that is not tight. For example, shoelaces, a child's tooth, a pair of pants. My shoelaces were LOOSE. If you are not using the word to describe something that isn't tight, then you're using it wrong.

                There, Their, and They're
                  THERE is the word that refers to something in the distance. Look at that obvious spelling mistake over THERE! THERE is a fungus among us.
                  THEIR is to be used when talking about a group of people owning something. THEIR dog is so cute. I belong to THEIR family. THEIR class is having a contest.
                  THEY'RE is a contraction, short for THEY ARE. Like with YOU'RE, you should not use THEY'RE unless you can replace THEY'RE with THEY ARE. THEY'RE (they are) making this mistake over and over. THEY'RE (they are) my brother and sister.

              Apostrophes
                See also: The Oatmeal

                First and foremost, I would like to point out which key is indeed the apostrophe, as many people also seem to have forgotten this information as well. Let me make this perfectly clear: ` is NOT an apostrophe, and should never be used in such a manner. ' IS. If you do not know where ' is on your keyboard, let me point it out to you – on a QWERTY, it is right in between the semicolon and the enter key, and right below the brackets and above the question mark. It is NOT next to the one and above the tab key. I don't care how cool you think you are when you use the ` – it isn’t right.

                Now that we've figured out how to utilize our keyboards properly, let's talk about the apostrophe itself.

                Apostrophes have three purposes in life - to complete contractions, to show ownership, and to indicate slang. A contraction is a combined form of two words, such as do and not. Imagine that the two words have unprotected sex, and the contraction is their lovechild. In this case, don't would be the child. Now, without an apostrophe, their child would be horribly deformed and ugly, so you have to make sure that it gets that apostrophe so that it can live a wonderful, healthy life and pass on its lovely contraction genes and so forth.

                The second purpose - showing ownership - is the one where I see most people messing up. If something belongs to someone else, then an apostrophe and an S follow the word. For example, Jane's dog. Jane owns the dog, so there's an apostrophe S. However, there are many people who tend to throw in an apostrophe in words that are simply plural, that seem to sound wrong in their brains. For example,

                      Roleplay's.
                      Dryer's.
                      Belong's.

                These are all WRONG. The roleplay doesn't own anything. The dryer doesn't own anything. I certainly don't see how the belong can own anything. You have to be careful with these. It seems simple, but it's easy to make a mistake if you aren't paying attention.

                Apostrophes in slang are easy to point out – they simply replace parts of a word that have been cut out. For example, if your character is talking about how they were calling a friend, but you want to show that they were using slang, you’d say callin’. The apostrophe replaces the G. Just think about Hagrid’s dialogue from Harry Potter – he uses slang left and right and there are enough apostrophes in his passages to sink the Titanic.

              Punctuation
                When you write a sentence, you're supposed to end it with a punctuation mark. Most of Gaia is fine with this - you all seem to know where the period, question mark, and exclamation points are on the keyboard.

                On the other hand, it seems that most of Gaia has not yet learned which punctuation mark to use. I'm willing to bet that for every page of a thread - that's fifteen posts - there's at least three mistakes involving the period, question mark or exclamation point. Three out of fifteen. Reduced, that's one out of five. Percentage-wise, that's twenty percent.

                Education-wise, that's sad.

                Anyway, the biggest problem I'm seeing involves completely ignoring the question mark. There are some sentences that don't sound like questions when we're speaking out loud, but actually are. For example,

                      Wait, who are you supposed to be again.
                      Why don't you go and get yourself a drink.
                      Not so high and mighty now, are you.
                      Where does everyone sleep then, I wonder. ( Quoted word-for-word from The Host. But then, is it really a surprise bestseller Stephenie Meyer got something wrong? )

                When said out loud, some people tend to say these sentences with their voice dropping in pitch (as opposed to rising, like it does when you're asking a normal question). Some people think it's okay for this to translate over in writing, and let me tell you -- it's not. Look at the above "questions." Do they have any emotion in them? No. By replacing the question mark with the period, you automatically lose a lot of feeling in your writing. It appears flat, boring, and not to mention mediocre.

                Some people tend to make this mistake a lot despite knowing the rules of questions - they simply forget it's a question halfway through the sentence. A good way to prevent this from happening in your final product is to read over your post again before you submit it, especially dialog, where most of the questions will be. It's easy to miss while you're still writing, but if you re-read it you're sure to catch most of those mistakes.

                Alternatively, there are times when people make statements questions that aren't supposed to be questions (credit to ShadedGray for pointing this out.) You'll have a statement of uncertainty, like so:

                      I wonder why they went to the store.

                And because some people will say the following with a rising intonation, they think it's a question. But it isn't.

                      Do you know why they went to the store?
                      Why did they go to the store?

                These are questions. I wonder is not the beginning of a question; it is the beginning of a statement. Be careful and reread before you submit!

                Another mistake I've seen a lot is the overuse of question marks and/or exclamation points when the character is shouting. How many times have you seen people mocking the n00bs by typing OMG!!!!1111oneone!!!!!1!? Yeah, well, putting that many exclamation points in your writing doesn't make you any better than those n00bs are. For example,

                      "I OBJECT!!!!!!!!!!!!"
                      "I OBJECT!"

                Which one looks more professional? Which one is less likely to burst your eardrums? Unless you’re doing it for comical effect, I really, really don't recommend typing the former.

                The same goes for question marks.

                      "Are you my mother??????"
                      "Are you my mother?"

                You don't need to create the mental image of your character standing there, head sideways, and a puddle of drool forming under their mouth.

              The Fourth Wall
                The Fourth Wall is an invisible wall that separates yourself from the roleplay - it's why the characters don't know someone is controlling them, why fantasies are possible, etc. If you were to pretend that you were watching a News Broadcast on television, then your characters would be the broadcast - they are still going about their own business, but have no idea that you're watching.

                In generalized writing, there are a few instances where you can break the Fourth Wall. There are novels where the narrator is talking directly to you, comedies where including the audience makes things funnier, online guides to help people with things like roleplaying correctly. In roleplaying, however, reasons to break the Fourth Wall are few and far between. I can't think of any reason at all to do so - though Kazza Reaper has mentioned a Marvel character who does, so roleplaying a character like him would obviously be an exception - but time and time again I see people who do, and it really gets on my nerves.

                Some people tend to think that the narrator (NOT the character you're writing for, but the invisible person who's telling the readers "Johnny did this" and "Johnny did that" ) exists outside the fourth wall and can talk to the reader directly. In very few cases is this true. Generally speaking, in roleplay you should NEVER directly address the audience - that is, refer to them as "you" or, God forbid, include the narrator with the audience and type "We". Time and time again I'll see something like "We all know this isn't true" to try and give the audience a hint, and it looks really unprofessional. If you want to point something out that your character may not notice, that's FINE, but there are other ways to do it. Just keep that Fourth Wall in tact and you should be alright.

                Her symphonic smile has written a helpful post about, well, how she disagrees with my opinion on the fourth wall. xD It talks about how, if written correctly, the fourth wall can be used as a way to enhance your writing, not take away from it, so if you're interested I suggest you take a look.

              Commas
                Used whenever you pause in a sentence, commas can either make your sentence flow nicely and allow you to make them longer than they usually could be, or they can make your sentences choppy and mediocre. We're going for the former, here, so let's talk about how to use them correctly.

                The first time you would use a comma (or more) in a sentence is when you're listing things. This can either be the list you take to a grocery store, or a list of adjectives you use when describing a noun.

                      I spent five hundred dollars on socks, tissues, and bell bottoms.
                      She ran into a big, fuzzy, terrifying bear.

                These are probably the easiest ways to use commas, and the ways I've seen the least amount of problems with. Most people consider the last comma optional, though if you're not sure or if you don't agree, adding it in certainly doesn’t hurt.

                Anyways, another case where you'd use a comma is to separate the first word in a sentence from the rest. This is called an introductory clause. I can give you about a billion examples - I use these so often whenever I write (if you scroll through the guide I'm willing to bet every other paragraph starts with an introductory clause.) Here are a few official examples, though:

                      First, you pick up your foot and swing it in a circle.
                      Really, I'd prefer it if you didn't touch me there.
                      Anyway, I'm continuing with my thought.

                These clauses don't have to only be one word, though. You can throw in all kinds of lengths and stuff, which you'll learn about later in the "What makes a Sentence" section, submitted by the lovely Teh Stripe.

                The biggest mistake I see with commas is when people use a comma in a sentence that doesn't need one. For example:

                      At Royal Caribbean, reducing waste and conserving resources such as water and electricity, is a large part of the company's Save the Waves program. example from a flyer in the Royal Caribbean Cruise line bathroom: photo evidence here

                Read the sentence out loud. Does the pause sound awkward to you? Did you even pause at all? You're supposed to pause whenever you see a comma (or a period), and splitting up that sentence breaks the flow of your writing. There are specific grammar terms and whatnot that I'm too lazy to think about, but really, what you need to remember to do to prevent this is read through your work before submitting it. It's amazing how many mistakes you can catch just by re-reading - especially if you do so out loud. Whenever you find an awkward pause like the one above, just get rid of the comma. It doesn't need to be there.

                (Added by ShadedGray) A comma goes before a conjunction only when the conjunction joins two complete sentences.

                      Jane went outside and she got the mail. Right.
                      Jane went outside, but she got hit by the mailman before she could get the mail. Right.
                      Jane went outside, but got hit by the mailman. Wrong.

                Also, this is a note from Blueberry Pwaunch about Appositions:
                  Appositions are segments of extraneous information within a sentence. They are separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma on either side of them. There is no verb in an apposition. They contain only adjectives and/or nouns.

                  So say you have the following:

                  My coach's name is Johnathon Griller. He yelled at our team yesterday.

                  It sounds a little off, right? So you can shorten it into one sentence.

                  My coach, Johnathon Griller, yelled at our team yesterday.]
                  Or
                  Johnathon Griller, my coach, yelled at our team yesterday.

                  Appositions cannot stand on their own. Since they contain no verb, they are only fragments.

                  A vampire killed my boyfriend, Carl. Correct.
                  A vampire killed my boyfriend. Carl. Incorrect.

                  It may seem silly, but people do that, often without realizing. See that? "Often without realizing" is an apposition. Amazing, isn't it? In general, if your sentences contain only one verb but more than one fact, you're using appositions, so be sure to separate them correctly.


              Paragraphs
                Okay. I've had this argument with three different people now, and I'm going to tell you now: a paragraph does not have to include any defined amount of sentences. Every teacher I've had since fourth grade with the exception of one has told me and my classmates that a paragraph needs to have at least three sentences, and no more than seven.

                What the ********?

                Counting sentences is so elementary it's not even funny. You click on ten different group roleplays on gaia, I guarantee you nine of them have a rule telling you how many sentences, words or lines your paragraphs should be. Look at the two paragraphs above this - the first one has three sentences, the second one has one. They are both paragraphs. This is because one paragraph should focus on one idea. If, in your post, you have to mention something about a cat, a chair, and dialog another character said to yours, then you should spend one paragraph talking about the cat, one talking about the chair, one talking about the dialog, and perhaps one responding to the dialog. If you only have two sentences to say about the chair? Too bad. You can't just be talking about one topic and HEY LOOK A PONY I'M TOTALLY MAKING THIS PARAGRAPH AS LONG AS POSSIBLE SO PEOPLE WILL THINK I'M GOOD AT WRITING 8D

                The only time where counting sentences should matter is in a formal essay. As in, when you're submitting your paper to your science teacher about how satellites affect global warming or something. But since roleplaying is about creative writing (ie: not your science paper), you need to learn how to separate your paragraphs.

                Adding dialog helps. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, if you spend a while writing in narrative and you're gonna interrupt with dialog, you should start a new paragraph. On that note, every time someone different speaks, you should start a new paragraph. Like this:

                      "Hello there, John," Bob said cheerfully, tipping his hat like any gentleman would.

                      "Good day, Bob," John replied.

              What Makes a Sentence ( Submitted by Teh Stripe )
                A sentence is, at its most basic form, made up of a verb and a noun. Anything less is a fragment, and though you can certainly add on clauses and conjunctions, adding too much without the proper punctuation leads to a run-on. We're going to break this down into little pieces, to make it more comprehensible.

                Fragments
                  Sentence fragments, when tastefully done, can add an excellent emphasis to a point you want to make in a post. In fact, when breaking grammatical rules for literary merit, you're most likely to use a fragment. Many people, however, don't actually realize when they're making a fragment, and there are a few reasons why that pop up quite often. An example of a bad fragment:

                        For the fireworks to occur.

                  Keep in mind that 'good' fragments (ie: He stopped and looked behind him. And realized he was screwed. Hard. - ShadedGray) should only be used in creative writing. Again, if you're writing that paper on satellites, then you shouldn't be experimenting with fragments.

                Clauses
                  Complex sentences are sentences which have two sections - at least one independent, and and least one dependent clause. An independent clause is, much as its name suggests, a clause that can stand as its own sentence. For instance:

                         I can use clauses correctly.

                  That on its own is not a complex sentence, of course. To do that, you would need to tack on a dependent clause. Such as:

                         Because I paid attention in English class, I can use clauses correctly.

                  The dependent clause in here is "Because I paid attention in English class." This cannot stand on its own as a sentence, because of the "because" up front. "I paid attention in English class" is a perfectly acceptable sentence, but when you add a term like "Since," "Because," "After," and so on at the beginning of a sentence, it becomes a dependent clause.

                  A few other examples of clauses, just to make things clear (the dependents are bolded, and independents are italicized.)

                        After I wet my bed, my mother became angry with me.
                        I decided not to go to school since they dunked me into a trashcan last I went.
                        I can't think of another example, even though I just did.

                Gerunds/Participles
                  Now, I'm sure you're probably looking at this title and going "What on earth are those terms? I didn't learn these in first grade." And that's because you didn't. Really, you probably know how to use them, but they can be tricky when trying to formulate a grammatically correct sentence. Why? That's because gerunds and participles are verbs that act as either nouns or adjectives, respectively, in the sentence. Confusing? Yeah.

                  But an easy example of a gerund is swimming. You like swimming. Swimming is not the verb in that sentence - like is. Swimming is the direct object of like, making it a noun. It isn't a verb, because think about it. You swimming. Does that sound grammatically correct? No. Easy way to tell if you've got a gerund instead of a verb is to replace dog into the sentence. You like dogs. That makes sense. You dog. Not so much, unless you're practicing for your caveman speech test.

                  Participles are a bit more tricky, because they usually show up in phrases that seem as though they can be separated from the sentence. For example: Studying through the night, the poor Gaian had no time to roleplay. A lot of people - and really, a lot - thinking that "Studying through the night" can function as its own sentence. It can't. It is modifying "the poor Gaian," meaning that the entire phrase functions as an adjective.

                Run-Ons
                  Alright, so we've tackled fragments, so let's get on to another big no-no in sentence construction: run-ons. Effectively, run-ons are multiple independent clauses haphazardly strung together without proper punctuation. For instance:

                        My name is Casy I like bees my favorite color is blueberry.

                  Pretty hard to read, right? Luckily, there are about a thousand ways to fix this up, if you throw around your punctuation and conjunctions correctly. Some examples:

                        My name is Casy. I like bees. My favorite color is blueberry.
                        My name is Casy, I like bees, and my favorite color is blueberry.
                        My name is Casy. Though I like bees, my favorite color is blueberry.

                  And so on. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it? There is, however, one "correction" that you actually want to avoid making:

                        My name is Casy, I like bees, my favorite color is blueberry.

                  This is known as a comma splice. You cannot separate two independent clauses with only a comma, because it doesn't put enough distance between them. Luckily, if you find yourself doing this, all you have to do is add a dot on top of that comma. Yup, you heard me - just use the magical semi-colon! Like so:

                        My name is Casy; I like bees; my favorite color is blueberry.

                  And now the world has been righted. Not only is your sentence corrected, but it's been proven that correct use of a semi-colon makes you appear approximately 41.3% smarter. Dashes are also suitable replacements.

                Dialogue ( Submitted by Teh Stripe )
                  The most common means of interaction in a roleplay is through characters speaking to one another - also known as "dialogue." Depending on the roleplay you're a part of, you may be asked (or sometimes even required) to color and bold your dialogue so that people can find it and respond to it all the easier.

                  There are a lot of mistakes in grammar that can be made in dialogue, particularly when ending punctuation is concerned. First off, no matter what, your punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks. Take for example:

                        "Oh my god!" she screamed. "Are you OK?" (correct)
                        "Oh my god"! she screamed. "Are you OK"? (incorrect)

                  There is no exception to this rule, even if it seems like there should be. Another common mistake comes with periods. In some dialogue, periods get turned into commas, like so:

                        "I'm not really sure," she admitted.

                  This only happens, however, if you are going to tag on more to your sentence after that. If the sentence ends there, it's still a period. For instance:

                        She shrugged and admitted, "I'm not really sure."

                  And there's more! Commas also end off the quote if there shouldn't be any punctuation there to begin with, such as when you break up a bit of dialogue with a "he said" or "she said."

                        "Well, that could be right," she started, "but I'm not so sure myself."

                  Also, notice how there are no capitals in there apart from the first letter? That's because this is all one sentence. "He said"s and "she said"s should only be capitalized if they're at the front of a sentence, not if they come after a bit of dialogue. So your sentence should look like this:

                        "Stop!" she screamed.

                  And not like this:

                        "Stop!" She screamed.

                  That's all as far as official grammar goes, but there's also an unstated rule about dialogue that should be paid attention to if you have a character that enjoys screaming at the top of their lungs. It doesn't matter how emotional your scene is – I would never recommend typing in all caps. Take this for instance:

                        "NO!" she shouted, leaning down to her wounded lover. "I WON'T LET YOU LEAVE ME! I WON'T!"

                  See? Isn't that a little hard to take seriously? (Not to mention how difficult it is to look at when it's bolded and colored. - Kiza) You've already told us that she's shouting - no need to emphasize it with the capital letters. If you really need to intensify some dialogue, however, you can always use italics. Here's that thing above fixed up a bit:

                        "No!" she shouted, leaning down to her wounded lover. "I won't let you leave me! I won't!"

                  It's best to only emphasize the really important parts - otherwise, all of it loses impact. The same rules apply to any one word that you need to place emphasis on; use italics, not caps. It makes the world a better place.

                Cursing
                  I've noticed that a lot of times, people try to add cursing to their writing to make it more mature. I can understand the thought process behind it - the more asterisks I can make appear in someone's filter, the more adult and risqué it must be! Well... No. That's not true. I'm not going to go all Catholic School Nun on you and tell you to never ever use a swear word - hell, I use them all the time - but you have to know when to use them.

                  It’s hard to put a number on how often you should have your character curse, but if you put a gun at my head and told me to do so, I’d advise you to not use more than one curse word a paragraph. Once every other paragraph, even. If your character's going off on a huge rant where they're swearing every two seconds, fine, but know that it really might not look that good. Even if you're roleplaying somebody from the 'hood, I'd really advise against cursing too much, because it reflects more on you than it does your character, and... I don't know. It just looks kind of bad, like you're trying too hard to make yourself seem older than you really are by cursing a lot.

                  Also, try to refrain from using "sex" and "********" interchangeably. Really, you should only replace "sex" with "********" if you're using the word in a degrading manner.

                Verb Tenses ( Submitted by Teh Stripe )
                  Verb tenses are not very difficult things to deal with, and yet they get confused at a surprising frequency. There are three different tenses - past, present, and future - and they're generally quite easy to distinguish. Present tense is the basic form of the verb, such as run or jog. Past tense would be ran or jogged. Future tense would be will run or will jog. Simple, yes?

                  Now, in writing, I have never seen future tense used, but past and present are both viable options. Past tense is typically used for roleplays, but generally speaking, you should match the tense of those around you. And most importantly, once you've got your tense, you stick to it. Either it all happened in the past, or it's all happening now. You can't have it both ways. Thus, a post like this is absolutely not acceptable:

                        She climbed out of the car, eager to get her day started. She then runs up to him and smiles, but not before she killed a small furry animal first. She hates being written in two different tenses.

                  Instead, it should read more like this, with the bolded words changed:

                        She climbed out of the car, eager to get her day started. She then ran up to him and smiled, but not before she killed a small furry animal first. She hated being written in two different tenses.

                  Simple, right?

                Adding Style ( Submitted by Teh Stripe )
                  Now this last section doesn't have to do so much with grammar, but rather making your writing interesting. After all, with all those rules to keep in mind, it's easy to get too bogged down in technicalities and make your writing completely dull in the process. Now, it's impossible to completely teach you how to make your writing interesting, and different writers will offer you different suggestions. But this, at least, should help you get started.

                  The most important thing to remember is to vary up your sentence structure, which entails complex sentence structure from time to time. For instance, take this paragraph:

                    The dog wanted to go to the store. Bill did not want to go to the store. The dog decided to attack Bill. Bill was very hurt. Bill's hand wouldn't stop bleeding. Bill went to the hospital too late. He died.

                  These are all rather simplistic sentences, and even though the story is about somebody dying (and thus automatically fascinating) you kind of want to die yourself while reading it. Now, take a look at this paragraph:

                    The dog wanted to go to the store. Bill didn't want to go to the store, though, so the dog decided to attack him. He was very hurt, and his hand wouldn't stop bleeding. He went to the hospital, but it was too late. He died.

                  This is still not the most fascinating story, but it doesn't seem to drag on as much as the other one. The "He died" in the end also has a lot more impact, because it's a different structure from the sentences before it. This was all done without replacing a single word with something more verbose.

                  And this brings us to another stylistic topic: vocabulary. The words you use can either make or break your post, and you need to use a Goldilocks mindset when writing. If you make your writing too simplistic, it will be boring to read, and people will think you stupid. If you throw in every vocab term from your SAT prep book, it will become too difficult for the average roleplayer to read, and you run the risk of misusing a word here and there. Just use standard vocabulary, and use your synonyms wisely. The example above is obviously a bit simplistic, so here's a version that is too difficult to read:

                    The canine desired a visit to the local market. Bill was dread to think of traveling to such a locale, however, so the domesticated wolf deemed it best to mutilate the man. Bill was terribly disfigured, and his phalanges wouldn't desist in oozing his A positive. He journeyed to the local healing center, but it was all for naught. He had expired.

                  See? Doesn't it sound like somebody has a stick up their a**?

                    The dog wanted to visit the store. Bill didn't really wish to go there, however, so the dog decided to attack him. He was heavily injured, and his hand wouldn't stop bleeding. He went to the hospital, but it was too late. He died.

                  All in all, you should probably aim for more simplistic vocabulary. And please, for the love of all things holy, do not use the words "maw" or "oculus" in place of "mouth" and "eyes." It may sound smart, but it’s a stylistic choice that might leave people struggling to take your post seriously.

                  Breaking up your paragraphs is another important thing. Follow the suggestions already mentioned in the paragraph section, of course, and keep in mind that you can put a sentence as its own paragraph and really make it stand out.

                  The final thing I can advise you to do is throw in details. This is another Goldilocks thing, however. Too brief, and your post is bare bones and boring to read. Too much, and there's too much to read, and people decide to skim it, which runs the risk of them missing an important detail. Obviously, our dog story is lacking detail. Here's what it looks like with too much detail:

                    The dog wanted to visit the store, because the store was where his mom had raised him from a little puppy. He really loved his mother, and every time he thought of her, his eyes lit up with the kind of joy that could only be seen when angels cried. And, indeed, crying angels is what he thought of when his dear, doggy mother came to mind, for she had died in a tragic logging accident only a year prior.

                    Bill didn't really wish to go there, however, because he simply didn't understand the dog's pain. It wasn't that he was an unsympathetic person, but he had never felt the stinging pain of the loss of a mother, so he was unable to understand just how nostalgic the place could be. Regardless, this led the dog to attack him. The dog launched himself onto Bill, and began to bite at his hand, gnawing at the skin and flesh, ripping tendons, and generally enjoying the taste of fresh blood in his mouth.

                  And I could go on, but I'm sure you get the point. Of course, there are some points at which more detail is necessary, but if you go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about a topic that's really only peripheral to your plot as a whole, you should probably cut some of it out. Now, finally, this is how I would write this story:

                    The dog wanted to visit the store, because he had grown up there and was starting to miss it. Bill didn't really wish to go there, however, so he refused, because he didn't understand the dog's attachment. This led the dog to decide to attack him, and he launched forward and began to tear at Bill's hand mercilessly. Bill was heavily injured by this attack, and his hand wouldn't stop bleeding because of it. He called an ambulance and was taken to the nearest hospital, but it was too late. By the time he arrived, he had already lost too much blood.

                    He died.

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              No matter what type of roleplay you're participating in, you're going to have at least one character you're writing for. Many people on Gaia nowadays claim they know what a Sue is and that their characters are most certainly NOT Sues – this isn’t always the case. Not only will I explain to you what a Sue really is, but I'll explain to you how to prevent from making one and how to instead make a realistic, developed character. And other various things. *cheesy grin*

              Mary Sues and Gary Stus
                As many would say - AKA, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from Twilight.

                If you've been roleplaying long enough to call yourself advanced literate - or even just literate - then you've probably heard of Sues (for simplicity's sake, I'm just gonna use Sue as a unigender term), and you know that you should avoid them. You might have seen a Sue Test, even taken one, and gotten a score you were pleased with. You might have just gone on your merry way after that, without even really looking into what a Sue is.

                Well, folks, we're gonna fix this problem.

                In case you don't know what a Sue is (and a good amount of writers these days actually don't), I'm going to give you a brief rundown. A Sue is an extension of yourself - what you wish you could be in your character, all the drama you fantasize about before you go to sleep, the one who gets the romance you've only dreamed of. If she's a girl, she's normally very sweet, optimistic, modest and pretty, and everyone loves her. If she's a guy, he's usually either unnaturally kind but a bit withdrawn, or short-tempered but deep down a really nice guy. And he's hot and everyone loves him. Think shoujo manga. They're chock full of Sues - Fruits Basket, for example, has every stereotypical Sue known to man (Not to say that this completely kills the story – idk about you but it’s still one of my favorites).

                Sues almost always have some kind of tragedy in their past. She was raped as a child. His father beat him up. Their evil uncle murdered their father and usurped the throne. They're an outcast from society. Yaaaawn. Stuff that you think is "so dramatic" or "so screwed up" that "nobody else could ever think of it" has been thought of and written so many times that nobody's shocked by it anymore. Oh, look, another rape victim. Got anything else? Stray from the pointless angst and leave the melodrama to Shakespeare.

                So we know our basic sues - the girls with hair that flows gently in the breeze and the guys who can kill his foe in the blink of an eye and end up with only a sexy trail of blood running down his forehead. We know about Sasuke and Sakura, about Bella and Edward, about Sora and Kairi. We know to avoid those characters, and to put in every rule about characters known to man not to make said characters.

                This has eliminated gaia of a good amount of basic sues. But it's barely even dented the sue population as a whole.

              Dirty Trickers
                A lot of roleplayers nowadays think that by giving their character a "bad" trait, they are automatically devoid of being a Sue. For example, in a roleplay where the character is labeled as "Miss Popularity," the roleplayer might make their character shallow and bitchy. They might say that she stops at nothing to get what she wants. And then they'll go on about how pretty she is any how many boyfriends she's had and how she's secretly really lonely and doesn't trust any of her friends.

                These people think that this is an example of a developed character.

                It's not.

                Similarly speaking, people will give their character an evil vice, such as being addicted to drugs (sometimes without even bothering to give their character the negative side effects), or sleeping around, or smoking or something. And then the creator will harp on endlessly about how horrible the character feels about himself for being a druggie/slut/smoker/whatever and it just turns into an angst fest and another type of Sue.

                Or sometimes, the creator won't allow their characters to have any friends, and make them an adorable little bookworm who has this not-so-secret crush on Mr. Jock or Mr. Popularity or Mr. Musician or some other Stu and she gets bullied for some reason that people never get bullied in real life (like for not having parents or something - honestly, who knows children who are cruel enough to tease someone for being an orphan? o_o). "Oh, but everyone hates her and she's nearsighted and socially awkward so she isn't a sue~ desu~" No. She is, and you need to learn about development. >8|

                I'm sorry, this is turning into a rant. But basically, I'm trying to tell you that there's a LOT more to developing your character than giving them a single negative" flaw. You have to explain that flaw, give them a reason for having that flaw (people aren't born bitches, believe it or not), actually have them ACT upon the flaw ("She's so short tempered omg!" Then why isn't she blushing and apologizing ten times over IC?) and so forth. It's not easy, but it makes your characters so much better, I promise you.

              Bending the Rules
                "But Kiza!" You protest, pouting your lip. "Surely you must have good traits in your character, for people are good, too!"

                Well, yes. This is true. But you have to be very careful when handing out good traits in your character - keep the good and the bad balanced and make sure they don't cancel out (for example, someone generous is not going to be greedy. That makes no sense).

                This section isn't about how to create a balance for your character, however - it is telling you when giving your character suey traits is okay.

                Now, I wouldn't recommend doing this at all unless you were extremely comfortable with your writing and have no doubt that you're capable of creating a balanced, developed character. But there are some people out there (such as myself) who appreciate the slightest bit of disbelief when they're reading or writing characters. For example, I have a soft spot for "nice boys" - the pushover guys who don't boast every other second or try to get with every girl who gives them the time of day. There are guys like this IRL, yes, but they're more rare than your typical "you're cute let's ********" types.

                You can also play around with qualities that would never really exist in real life, but can make the roleplay more amusing or fun in general. I was once in a roleplay where a character had the power to lie and make anyone believe whatever she said, and I remember the interaction between her character and my character being absolutely hysterical. This isn't the best example since this was a power and not just a character trait, but you get my drift, yes?

                Speaking of powers, I'm going to go against the general public and tell you that giving your character a power does not automatically make them a Sue. Many roleplays out there require your character to have a power because of the setting - for example, an ATLA roleplay would probably have quite a bit of benders - and allowing your character to be good at what they do does not underdevelop them. In fact, it can add quite a bit of depth to their history, especially if you know how they gained/worked for said powers, who their teacher was, etc. You just have to watch out for the whole I AM THE LAST IN MY CLAN TO KNOW THIS or HEY LOOK I MASTERED KARATE IN A DAY idea, because those are obvious Sue qualities.

                Anyway, back to the subject at hand, adding slightly unrealistic/sometimes Suey qualities can add a lot of likability to your character, so long as you do it right. It works especially well with comic relief - slapstick, juxtapose, and many other types of humor that may not be realistic might detract from the believability of your character, but make them a lot more fun to read. Again, just be sure to not go overboard with it on the excuse that "it's funny."

              Character Development
                There are many different ways to develop your character, from taking OC quizzes to filling out profiles to... to... Well, I can't think of too many examples other than just writing them out. And that last one - writing for them - is by far the best way to flesh out a character.

                OC quizzes can help, but they normally ask such generic questions (What's your name? A-Hyuk! You're on your way to a novel already!) that it's really hard to give your character any depth based on those alone. And profiles are a really good start to coming up with a character idea - I mean, you've got the personality and history to work with - but that's all a profile is. A start. I don't think I've ever just filled out a character and felt like I really really knew them after finishing. Maybe it's just me, but all the major decisions I've made about a character have either been while actually roleplaying, or by writing oneshots about the character on the side.

                The reason being is that when you're filling out a profile, you're only telling yourself what's happened up until the point where the roleplay's started. You've made concise decisions about your character, yes, but you can't really know how a character's going to react to a certain situation until it actually happens. I've plotted ahead a million times when I'm offline, and if what I've predicted actually happens, ninety percent of the time I'm writing something completely different from how I originally thought my character would act. It's not a matter of consistency, it's just a matter of details; even one sentence in a post can completely change the situation. There are times when I write something and only just then realize something about my character, and it helps me develop them.

                Outside of posting, I find that the best way to develop a character is to write oneshots - little stories that last no more than a few pages in a word document. The topic can be anything: a scene from their history, a "what-if" from the future, a description of how many lovers they've had, if they're a cat person or dog person and why. Through writing these, you'll find out more main ideas about your character ( such as, "Hey, so and so likes dogs!" ) but you might figure out smaller details that help "complete" them ( "So and so likes strawberries because they're sweet but healthy" ). If you're having trouble with your character and you want to flesh them out a little more, I suggest finding one of those 100 challenges with one-word prompts (they're all over the internet), chose one at random, and just write.

                s i l k y SOY has suggested just chatting in OOC chats with other roleplayers about your characters - just plotting in general before or during the actual roleplay. This, too, helps work with your characters (especially new ones), and you can also incorporate the whole "Character: Oh no you did unt *Z snap*" sort of thing.

                Ruruka also pitched in with the idea of coming up with traits that could be good or bad - generosity to the point that someone has nothing left for themselves, or fear of sex. She also suggested asking "why," for that too can help add depth for even the most simple of decisions.

                Said SUP3R DORK, "I find it very useful to find another character in the same roleplay and have your character and that one interact together. I use MSN a lot for this, but I'm sure private messages can work just as well. Anyway, just throw them together in different situations, the good and the bad. It allows one to really understand their character, figure out their inner workings. Basically it would be mini one on one. Don't put pressure on length or anything like that, just let the characters do what they want to do in those situations. Some of my best characters developed that way."

                Another good idea, from [~lil_Citrus_birdy~]: "I take personality tests as my characters and write down why "I" would pick those answers to help get in the mood and state of mind for my character. I also open up a page in the dictionary (I still have one in book form! o: ) and pick the first word I see. Then I write a short drabble applying that word to my character. Those are my two cents in that aspect."

                If anybody else has suggestions for development, feel free to share. <3

              Prioritizing
                Now, I just went on a rant about how it's nice to know details and how they can be used to flesh out your character, but I'm going to be a hypocrite and tell you that it's not necessary. Confused yet? Bear with me. It's nice to know these things, and likes and dislikes can be used to help develop your character, but these alone do not develop your character.

                For example. If I had a character profile that only had "She likes carrots, golden retrievers, the color maroon and roller coasters," would that tell you anything about the character's personality or history? No. It would not. You could assume things, like that she likes roller coasters because she's a thrill seeker, but that may not actually be true. This is why it bothers me when roleplay skeletons have "likes" and "dislikes" as things that need to be filled in - if you're starting a character from scratch (which, in roleplays, is not uncommon) you're not going to know all that right off the bat. It's an unnecessary holdup to getting the profiles in sooner.

                Similarly, things like height and weight are not important to your character development. Should you have some general idea of what your character looks like? Yes. That's why I'm a fan of getting models - you just grab someone who looks generally what your character does, slap it on the profile, and you're done. But if you're spending ages describing what every strand of hair on your character's head looks like, then... Well, you're just wasting time. You ever hear that you can't judge a book by its cover? Well, you can't judge a character by their appearances. I mean, you can use them to develop them a little - ethnicity and culture, sure - but they shouldn't be the main basis of your character.

              Character Skeletons
                On the note of what should and shouldn't be on a skeleton, I'll go ahead and break down what a good profile would consist of, and what you should avoid. If it's too tl;dr for you, here is a sample profile I whipped up.

                What to Include in Your Profile
                  Character's name. Obviously. Middle name is optional - I rarely come up with a middle name for my characters - and last should be included for most roleplays, unless based off of a series where last names aren't common (coming up with last names for a KH roleplay, for example, would be kinda pointless). You can put nicknames in if you want, but I'd mostly just leave nicknames to the roleplay - it's more likely you'll come up with something you like OOC more. Age, gender and sexuality are all important, but shouldn't need elaboration - who cares if your character is a libra or virgo?

                  Personality and history are musts, though they can easily be combined if you want a minimalist profile. I do recommend requiring at least a paragraph for each, so that you can get elaboration in your profiles, but having a limit, too, so that you're not reading about every day in the life of so-and-so.

                  If you're modding a roleplay that involves characters with powers (superhero, fantasy, HP, whatever), then it's also a good idea to include a section where you can explain such powers. Again, I'd suggest making a limit so that you're not reading on and on about how a character can kill people by sneezing.

                  Other than that, the only thing you'd really need is Username (if you plan on posting all the profiles with one account - otherwise even that's not necessary) and posting colors, so that other people don't have to quote someone else's post just to figure out how to color someone else's speech properly (though they might do so anyway). You can provide a profile code or allow others to spiffy it up themselves - either way, fancy skeletons aren't mandatory (though they do look nice). Anything else to be included in the profile is pretty much just fluff, and doesn't need to be added.

                What NOT to Include in Your Profile
                  Anything else.

              Flexibility as an Author
                Flexibility means more than just being able to play a girl with blond hair versus a girl with brown hair. You see on almost every search thread nowadays "be capable of playing The Guy," because before, there was almost nobody willing to play The Guy other than players who were guys IRL (It should be one of those rules of the internet - nobody wants to play The Guy). Technically, it's still the case - seeing "well I can play The Guy but I like playing my own gender too" seems to translate to "I can only play girls but I want people to roleplay with me anyway."

                I don't see why people aren't comfortable with playing outside their own gender. I'm a girl, and I normally enjoy playing guys more than I do girls, because I'm less worried about "does this character act too much like me? D:" and I'm more focused on the actual roleplay. I know that people want to play their own gender because it allows them to play out their romantic fantasies a lot easier, but if you're still worried about living your life through your character, I want you to stop reading right here, and start back at the top of the post labeled "MARY SUES AND GARY STUS."

                Ahem.

                Flexibility is about more than playing both genders, however. You have to get out of your comfort zone when choosing new characters - play the bad guy if you're used to the good guy, and play the good guy if you're used to playing the bad guy. Play characters of different ethnicity than Asian, American, or European. It's so rare to see a black character these days, and Middle Easterners are about one in one hundred. I'm not gonna go all preachy and NO RACISM on you or anything, but using someone who isn't this pasty little ghost who looks like every other OC in gaia gives you a huge head start in making your character different from others.

                Another thing you should look into is age. Everyone plays teenagers these days; it's so yesterday. Same with those in their low/mid twenties. I mean, it can be fun to play a honeymooner, don't get me wrong, but when was the last time you wrote for a seven-year-old? How 'bout a seventy-year-old? A plot with a wise old man involved is gonna have a bit more depth than one with ten crazy kids discovering what happens when you stick your finger in an electrical socket.

                Finally, I'd recommend experimenting writing characters with different sexualities. I am NOT talking about yaoi or yuri - which is why I recommend doing this by yourself, and not in roleplays with other people - because yaoi and yuri aren't accurate representation of homosexuals in real life. I'm talking about legitimate LGBT characters who are looking for love in their partners, not something to rub up on. If you're normally a yaoi/yuri writer, try writing homosexual love without sex involved. If you normally write for homosexual characters, try writing for heterosexual ones. Variety's the spice.

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              I'm already regretting having an intro to each post before the actual content, because I don't really know what to say anymore. Uhh. Plotting. It's important, because without a plot, there's nothing to do with your characters, and the roleplay's boring... and stuff. You coooould come up with something on the fly, but most people prefer to plot anyways, so of course I’ve included a post about it.

              Coming Up With Your Plot
                I could go on for ages about crazy voodoo to come up with a killer plot that everyone will want to join or something, but through experience, I've found the best way to come up with a plot is to let it come to you. All of my favorite roleplays have sprung from jokes - "Haha, what if we made a roleplay involving all of our characters at once?" "That'd be difficult." "LET'S DO IT." - or, incidentally, sprinted across my mind while I'm brushing my teeth (don't ask me why, but that seems to be my magical idea time - yours might be and probably is different).

                Trying to force a plot (like I do for NaNo every year, ahaha) is never a really good idea. Because while you might come up with something decent, it's unlikely that you'll come up with something you love enough to put the time and effort into making a roleplay out of it (or a story, for that matter). Once you have the basic idea, it's fine to sit yourself down and work out all the little kinks, but you need to save that until after you've come up with a killer brainblast that'll knock Gaia off its feet.

                I want to give a quick piece of advice about briefing on plots in group roleplays - try not to make them too long. Like, if you have a 600px banner aligned to the left of your 10pt text, I'd advise against making the plot run longer than that banner. Not many people have the attention span to read that long on one sole subject, and it's likely that they'll miss important details if you make it too long. As for onexones, don't even think about making your plot longer than a paragraph. Any more than that and you aren't leaving your partner enough room for input, so they'll feel detached from the plot and won't want to continue the roleplay. Who wants to read a whole frikken' website describing a world their character has to take part in, yeah?

              Plot Necessities
                The two most important things for your plot to have are conflict and a starting point. Many people come up with good plot settings, but they leave out these two things and the roleplay goes nowhere because of it. A conflict is the problem the characters have to solve - the dilemma they're faced with. No good plot could survive without a conflict, because without it, there's nothing interesting to read about. So and so woke up, had breakfast, went to work, and came back home. Over and over and over again. No one wants to read that. You need at least some sort of problem to keep people interested in writing, and to keep people interested in reading.

                A good starting point is also absolutely crucial for your roleplay to survive. If you don't know where your roleplay starts, you might as well declare it dead right now, because you're bound to receive ten waking up intros, which will include So and So waking up, getting dressed, and having small talk with their parents/siblings/roomies/pets as they prepare for their day. Reading. That. Ten. Times. Is. Painful. It's so painful it could practically be torture - I don't see why the government doesn't use it as such. I'm not saying that you should plunge right into the conflict before anyone's even gotten an intro in, but you have to remember that in a group roleplay, everyone's already submitted their profiles - they don't need another chance to really introduce their character. If you're seeing post after post where people are recapping their character's history because they have nothing else to write about, you've got a problem.

                Starting Points aren't quite as important with onexones (as normally you don't have character profiles and you'll need a sec to learn about the opposing character), but you still need to have a good idea as to where to begin. Character Interaction is the key to onexones - if you don't have the two characters talking to each other by the fourth post, then you need to readjust.

              Fluff
                Fluff can be known as "pointless cute romance" in writing, or it can be known as "what you don't need." We're talking about the latter definition, here, and what you should avoid when writing out your plot.

                For one thing, don't plot out anything past exposition, or your starting point. If your roleplay is about two characters competing to be class president, then your plot should include a basic background of the school, why being president is important, and maybe a brief description of how elections are usually run. You should NOT, however, decide which candidate will win presidency, who's going to vote for who, etc. If you want to have someone be an underdog or something, that's fine, but make sure that nothing's set in stone.

                This is the same for character relationships. It really bugs me when people have a plot set out, and then they say "This character is dating this one and has a crush on this one and is siblings with this one--" No. It’s really difficult to plan character relationships before you even have applicants, because you don't know what types of characters are going to be applying for your roleplay and what their chemistry will be. I'll say it again, in bolded letters: do not plot past exposition.

                Also, if you're making a group roleplay, you need to keep character count in mind when creating your plot. Having a Lady Gaga roleplay could be really cool, but if you're going to be waiting for one character to represent every song she's ever sang, you're going to be waiting for a loooong time. I'd recommend not having any more characters up than fifteen - and I say this because it is the magical Fruits Basket number. Furuba plots are very popular even now that the series is so over it's practically dead, and almost 100% of the time a Fruits Basket roleplay is made, you've got at least one person vying for every character up there. And there's usually (at least, there SHOULD be) fifteen characters - the twelve members of the zodiac, the cat, the rice ball, and the God. Any more than that and you're pushing it; frankly, I prefer ten characters because it allows you to be a bit more picky with applicants.

              Ideas to Stray Away From
                Now, when you're making a roleplay, you're generally free to roleplay whatever genre or story you want to (though you should keep in mind that if there's ten roleplays going on centering what you want to roleplay, you should wait until those stop so that the fans will come to you), but there are some ideas that you really shouldn't include in your plot if you want people to join.

                For one thing, if you're making a roleplay on something that has a really small fanbase - I don't know, banking or something - then you shouldn't have too many rules (because then people who aren't a huge fan won't want to join) or slots (because it'll be hard enough to fill the slots as it is) if you want it to fill up. It kind of sucks, but hey. A small, simple roleplay is better than no roleplay, right?

                Anyway. Regardless of the roleplay, you should never have one all-powerful character that the roleplay completely centers around, y'know? This is especially true for original roleplays, because if you make this roleplay about this poor little half elf that's been estranged from her country and needs to make her way home, there's very little room for other characters to have a purpose. It then becomes like a Pokémon game, where you've got supporting characters tagging along and fighting the battles for you, but you know in the end that it's only that one character that matters. And people don't like that. So they'll leave.

                Also, keep even gender ratios when coming up for your cast. Even Ouran roleplays these days have a second female host club to keep from everyone having to play The Guy (because as we've discussed in the flexibility section, NOBODY wants to play The Guy), and if you end up as the only girl character playing against ten amazingly smexy single males, then... well. People will know what you're up to.

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              Personally, posting is my least favorite part of the roleplay. >O>; It becomes something that I have to do, and it kills my inspiration. But if you ever want to get a reply - and that's my favorite part - you need to post, first, so you may as well know how to do this right, too.

              Formatting
                I know that there are a lot of roleplayers out there who are kind of ">8| Hrmhrm formats are pointless they don't add anything to your post blah blah blah." I can understand their point of view, believe me. Your format should not be the only good thing about your post. I've seen people go absolutely crazy with formats, using every special character known to man and then some, and I'm just as annoyed with them as the next person. Roleplaying isn't a graphic competition, after all.

                On the other hand, I strongly recommend you learn how to make at least a basic layout.

                It doesn't have to be anything complex. A favorite layout I have is this, and I don't think it took me more than fifteen minutes to code. Notice how I used only one special character, only six colors other than black, and only one graphic. It's not perfect, granted, but it's pleasing to look at and it would also look nice with any amount of text longer than a paragraph. I'm not saying your format has to be that complex (or simple, depending on how you look at it), but it is a good example of something universal.

                In onexones, formats are usually allowed to be a lot less complex, but I still recommend at least having a picture of your character (whether it be anime, model, celeb, whatever) so that the person you're roleplaying with has some sort of mental picture of your character. I can tell you right now that my biggest problem with reading fiction is not being able to picture the characters according to their descriptions - actually having pictures prevents that problem.

                Besides, you're more likely to get fanart if the artists have a clear ref. c:

              Content
                Okay, your posts should always have two things included: Action and interaction. Without these two, your post will be incredibly boring and not to mention impossible to respond to, and it'll most likely either slow down the roleplay (group) or leave you ditched (onexone).

                We'll start off with action. This is, obviously, what your character is doing. Your character woke up. Your character went to breakfast. Your character ate a hamburger. Your character jogged five miles. Your character threw up. Et cetera.

                The key to having interesting action is to write not every single detail of what your character is doing - Marisu inhaled slowly for what would be seven counts in a fast-tempo song, and then exhaled for three counts in a slower waltz. Then she looked three degrees to the left and saw a butterfly - but instead explaining what's most important to the post (Marisu drew in her breath slowly, and looked to the left to see a butterfly). Yes, this will take out a chunk of length, but it'll also keep your readers from falling asleep on their keyboards as they try to keep up.

                At the same time, you need to moderate how much your character is doing, and make sure that you aren't having them move along the plot too quickly. Say you're in a pokemon onexone. Your character chooses their starter, leaves the lab, is confronted with a Starly, and wins the battle. All in one post. That's moving way too fast - your partner will have trouble responding to the post. Their response would end up something like "Bob watched Joe pick the Mudkip, and then chose a Torchic for himself. He followed Joe outside, only to be surprised with a Starly attack, but didn't need to worry, because two seconds later the Starly was flying off just like Team Rocket." That's not fair to your partner. You need to remember that you're not writing this roleplay yourself, but with other people - give their characters time to react, too.

                This leads me to interaction. You need to include it. This means giving your partner(s) something to respond to. Think of it as one of those annoying questions on a test that asks the question, and then asks why. The same goes for roleplaying - if you keep on killing the interaction by having a silent character, you're bound to be left in the dust. Characters aren't mind readers (for the most part); they need dialog to respond to.

                Again, don't go off and have your character talk on and on for hours, unless they're giving a speech or are supposed to be particularly annoying. If you want to have a conversation, that's fine, but you can't have your character say something like, "Hello, my name is Sally and I'm from Canada, where are you from? Oh that's very interesting despite the fact you haven't responded yet I'd like to visit that place sometime, teehee, by the way I'm a black belt in karate, have you ever fought before? Oh well, I'm still not giving you a chance to respond, let me give you my whole life story..."

                You see? You need a balance of the two.

              What Not To Include
                Now, while we've talked about how you shouldn't go on and on with action or interaction, there are still things that you should generally avoid when posting.

                Firstly, avoid mind reading characters. I don't mean in a superhero roleplay, don't have a character that can read thoughts - that's taking things too literally. What I do mean is having your character respond to something that wasn't said or done. For example, if Joe is thinking about what he wants to have for dinner, and Jill randomly decides to invite him to McDonald’s, then it’s easy to see that Jill only made the suggestion because you, the author, read your partner’s post about how Joe’s dinner arrangements were still undecided. Doing this once or twice isn’t so bad – there are times where it can even advance the plot – but there are many situations where it borders godmodding and is just plain annoying. If, for example, someone had a closeted gay character and you had your character immediately realize his homosexuality, it would be unrealistic. I realise that you could argue your character has a strong gaydar or that the opposing character is just extremely flamboyant, but for the purpose of the example let’s assume otherwise. The easiest way to break this habit (and also most amusing) is to have your character thinking on the exact opposite track as the one who posted before you. Using the homosexuality example, you could post about how your character believes the gay character is straight, or something similar to it.

                Another thing I'd like to mention is the difference between internal dialog and a giant bucket of angst. It's fine to have your character musing to themselves - it can add quite a bit of flair to your post - but you shouldn't be going on forever about how the current situation relates to some kind of milestone in their angsty lives.

                ... You know, even if your character doesn't have an angsty life, you shouldn't do that. Maybe for an intro post, since it is an introduction, but once you've got the plot moving, focusing too long on the past can get really annoying. You have a profile for a reason, folks.

User Image

              What a lot of newbie roleplayers don't know is that there are a lot of unspoken rules in roleplaying. It's not their fault they don't know - they are, after all, unspoken - but it's still an annoyance to more experienced roleplayers when they break them, and embarrassing to the newbies when they learned they've made a mistake. Still, even those who've been roleplaying for a while can slip up and make mistakes, resolving in 'bad manners,' so to speak, so I've added a few more points of etiquette that you should keep in mind when roleplaying.

              When to Post
                Obviously, in a onexone, you're not going to post until the other person has replied, but how do you know when to post in a group roleplay? Sometimes, you'll have enough fodder for a response after only one person posts, and sometimes, you're stuck with writers block for pages at a time.

                I have a rule of three that I like to follow - do not post in a group roleplay until at least three people (assuming three isn't, like, the entire cast) have posted. At least. And this number should rise as the amount of people in a roleplay rise - if there's, say, twenty characters, I'd raise the quota to five. This is because if you post too much, then you don't give other people time to catch up, and then they're going to struggle to keep their character involved in the plot and not feel left out.

                I remember a long time ago in a different roleplaying forum, I made a post before I went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning, there were about ten new posts from the same two people. Those two characters had advanced the plot before anyone else in the roleplay had a chance to reply (because everyone else was asleep - gotta love those time zones), but it left the rest of the characters confused and disoriented. Please, gaia, don't let this be you.

              Multiple Characters
                A lot of people think that it's a good idea to double or triple in a group roleplay, because it means the slots will fill up quicker, and you won't have to go out advertising and hope someone takes an interest in your roleplay. While it's fine to pick up a second character or something if it'll keep the roleplay in motion, I really don't recommend playing more than three in one group roleplay. For one thing, it shows a bit of a lack of modesty (kind of like "NONE OF YOU PEASANTS CAN PLAY THESE CHARACTERS FOR I WILL PLAY THEM BETTER >8D" ), and even if you're polite about it, it's very easy to show preference for one character over another and completely neglect others.

                I was in a roleplay once where people kept on dropping out, so one person would pick up all the others, and that person ended up only writing responses for one character by the time the roleplay was in motion again. It was really frustrating because if you tried to have your character involve the other, they'd just be ignored, and then all of a sudden, you had nothing to respond to, either. .__.;

                Playing multiple characters in onexones can be great fun, don't get me wrong (my favorite roleplay has over one hundred, but that's a different story), but in a group roleplay, I strongly advise you to stick to just one.

              Godmodding
                Now, almost everyone knows the normal godmod rules - give your character a weakness, don't kill other characters without asking, blah blah blah. But there are simple types of godmodding that are actually allowed.

                For example, if your characters need to go to the store, and at the moment they're standing outside the car, you should feel comfortable enough with your roleplay partner to be like "OK, Sally, remind me to get the potato chips," and then have a brief timeskip to the store. I remember I had a partner who did this all the time, and I loved him for it, because it kept the plot moving along. We actually reached past the exposition by the second page, which is quite a feat, knowing roleplays these days.

                Of course, you should godmod tastefully - don't have another character laugh at something your character says or something, because it might not be something they find funny. There are some people who don't mind this (myself included, because I like trying to find an IC reason why my character might do this), but most people will get very annoyed, very fast.

                Just exercise caution, is all.

              Continuity
                This is one of the easiest things to mess up whenever you're not being careful. Continuity is about reading what your partner wrote and sticking to it. If your partner mentions a chair in the corner being red, don't go and say the same chair is blue (excluding smart-alecky reasons like a magical color changing chair or your character being colorblind, of course). I like to think of this as similar to the "Yes, and" rule most improvisers follow - if your partner says something, it is true. You say "yes" and agree, and then add to it. "The chair is red." "Yes, and it is made of wood." And so forth. If there's something that's waywayway wrong for some reason or another, you should PM the poster or something - COMMUNICATE (as communication is crucial for good roleplays) with them, and most of the time, they'll change it. Don't just make your own post completely defying what they said unless your goal is to annoy your partner.

                Really, though, I think this problem happens most because posters are just forgetting the smaller details. The best way to avoid this problem is to just give both your partner's and your own post one more quick read-over before hitting that 'submit' key. You'll catch the small mistakes, fix them, and nobody will be the wiser. C:

              Propose a Plot
                This mostly appeals to onexones, since group roleplays usually (hopefully) already have a plot, but there are certain methods to plot proposals you should follow if you want someone to roleplay with you.

                For one thing, be concise. I remember someone PMed me linking me to a website dedicated to their plot, and when I turned them down they started yelling at me because I didn't want to read the whole thing. Not only was it unrealistic for them to expect someone to want to put that much energy into just seeing if they were interested in the plot, but pitching a fit is not a good way to further convince people to roleplay with you.

                Just a hint - be nice and willing to compromise.

                Anyway, like with group roleplays, you shouldn't plot past exposition. I know that it's fun to think ahead and plan out how many kids your characters might have and all that, but especially in onexones, other people will want to feel as if their input matters, and they'll be more inclined to roleplay with you if the plot belongs to them, too.

User Image

              This post serves as a testimonials page of sorts, where YOU can input what irks YOU and let people know how to keep from pissing YOU off.

              If you want to add something, post it in the thread or PM it to me or something - just let me know you officially want it up here. Usernames won't be mentioned, so that no one will be targeted for thinking one way or the other.

              Okay. What Irks Me? GLITTER.
              It makes my eyes bleed.
              Glitter In A Post Format = You're going to get your a** kicked.
              I know that everyone doesn't have photoshop, but what happened to a nicely sized picture as a side bar, some lyrics, and then the text?
              Even myself, I still use picnik and I have photoshop 7.
              I have friends that even do graphics for free!
              Plus there are graphic shops.
              So yeah, Glitter is what irks my nerves.


              When somebody tells you what model to use for your character, or request that you play a certain type of appearance for them.

              It's like, do you even care about the character himself? What if it doesn't fit him to have a lip ring? What if I don't want him to be an Asian pop star with long flippy hair? Huuuuh?


              this isn't really... a big thing,
              but it annoys me during role plays with pre-set characters,
              where the owner of the role play has like 5 people crushing on her, and the super-strong-super-power,
              while everybody else is stuck with crappy and/or nonexistent powers, and nobody crushing on them.
              then she/he makes her/his characters all good traits, or whatever, like 'kind, caring, strong, powerful, pretty, 2sexyy4youu'
              and then i go up to read the rules, and the owner is just like
              'oh, yeah. i hate it when people make their characters mary sues/gary stus, so please don't. also, all characters must have severe weaknesses, etc'
              in other words? i hate hypocrites >:c


              I hate it when people put several unrelated icons (commonly animated gifs
              which they likely stole from some livejournal community) in their posting formats.
              It's like "What the hell does an icon of a blinking eye have to do with your character?"

              I get especially angry if said gifs have some kind of glitter/sparkle thing in them. >C


              Centered text. I cannot read it. ;~;
              If it is one line, then it's fine, but for an adv.lit post it's so distracting and I cannot focus on where the sentences start.... etc.


              it irks me when people play the same character types over and over and over.
              I know I do it; I tend to favor alpha males when I play guys. But it gets annoying.
              When every character you make is a homosexual male, that gets boring. Branch out. Try something different.


              When, in a roleplay that uses anime pictures, somebody uses an appearance of a very well-known character. Especially if said character is supposed to be in the roleplay that's based on that universe. Also, there is one picture in particular that I see used for character appearances all the time, of a busty redhead. I swear, if I see it one more time, I will scream.

              There are other overused pictures, too, of course, and those are annoying, too. But that one just gets me every time. I swear, you look around at semi-lit group RPs, that girl will be in half of them.

              Find more original pictures, please. D:


              when people describe their characters appearances
              and call them beautiful.
              or whatever.
              has anybody covered this yet?
              beautiful is a vague word, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
              what you think is hot damn might be what someone else thinks is butt ugly.
              it does nothing to actually describe your character, it only puts your opinion into the post.
              it just... I don't know, it bothers me. xD


              Actually, something that bugs me about one x one search threads is when people ask for something specific of the writer/player.
              AKA you must be male, you must be asian, you must be over eighteen, you must only eat strawberry ice cream because all the other kinds suck, you must not condone botox, you must be gay or know somebody who is gay, etc.
              Role play should be about my characters, not about me. ;;


              People who nag for posts. I was in a onexone on a different account of mine with this one person. Now, this person was a completely awful roleplayer. Spelling and grammar that would make your eyes bleed, a gary-stu character, an inability to push the plot forward, and severely lacking in the ability to use periods, among other things (like completely changing the plot without telling me). But I liked the roleplay, so I stuck it out. Now, for my onexones, I have a tendency to post as soon as I get a reply. I may leave it off for a while if I've got writer's block or something, but that's usually how I do it. So the fact that this person would pm me every five minutes to see if I'd responded yet, really got on my nerves. I mean really, I was posting basically as frequently as I possibly could with how little she gave me to work with, but she still had the gall to pm me demanding why I hadn't replied yet, ten minutes after my last post. In the end, that was the one thing I couldn't tolerate, so I started deleting all of her PMs and generally vacating any roleplay she entered.

              I'm getting kind of sick of only seeing characters who are ridiculously
              messed up in the head. It seems that in order for a character to be
              interesting, they need to be completely and utterly insane and have roughly
              nineteen different complexes. Guys, it's possible for a normal ( "normal"
              being a relative term here ) character to be interesting. Not everyone has
              to be the most messed up and "broken" ******** to ever walk the earth.
              Endless wangst and bitching does not automatically make a character deep.


              Equally as obnoxious are the characters who are defined by who they're sleeping with.
              But I don't think that's as common on Gaia as it is on other sites. : |
              Srsly, though, your character doesn't have to shag everyone within three miles to be interesting.
              I also get annoyed with people who play a homosexual character and have the sexuality define the person in the worst of ways.
              I'm not talking about how a transgendered person is going to have gender identity issues, I mean when people say "Oh, I'm going to play a gay man, so he's going to be ridiculously feminine and cross dress."
              : | No.


              when people say: " (color here) orbs" in replace of eyes. it's really overdone now and kinda retarded. LOL.

              when role-plays REQUIRE you to use a celebrity. what's wrong with using an unknown model... if it's a realistic role-play set in modern times, it wouldn't even make sense to use celebrities... 'cause 9 times out of 10 people may mention a well known celebrity in their post and one of the characters has that celebrity as their appearance. QQ if you get what i mean. you wouldn't really get to talk about pop culture in the rp cause your characters are those stars. >>

              i hate when people think that because they don't have ~~**~~amazing graphics in their profile, their profile is unworthy and thus not good.

              if you think that about your own profile, how do you expect me to like it either? @_@ know what i'm saying? graphics aren't everything, it's the things within your profile that matter, the substance, ya know~


              Half Japanese and Half European characters. ._. They've been popularized by Furuba and Ouran, which, of course, are popular RP subjects. And they've been abused. It seems like people make them just so that they can give their character a Caucasian appearance yet still allow them to KNOW JAPANESE CULTURE DESU DESU.

              Don't you guys just hate it when someone posts a response
              where every sentence starts with either he, she, or a person's name?
              Especially in Semi-lit's, where everyone does it.
              It makes reading a pain and kills all my motivation to post myself.


              But something that bothers me in threads is when people call series characters "cannons." It should be canons, because the characters are canonical, not monstrous weapons.
              I'm certain it is (in some cases) a typo, but... I dunno, thought I'd throw that out there.


              I hate it when someone PMs you multiple times asking you to make your character do whatever for their character. In one roleplay I participated in, I had this one guy PM me asking if my character could go along with their character to the nearby village. While my character was in the middle of talking to theirs. And my character even HINTED that she would follow along. That in itself isn't terrible, really, and yet not a week later, he requested that a different one of my characters pick up a briefcase that was left behind (whether or not it was on purpose, I haven't a clue) and then take it to such person so that it could eventually be filtered down to some of his characters. And of course, where was this briefcase? Completely out of my way. I'm sorry, but I don't want to be there just to cater to your characters.

              What really irks me most, to be quite honest, is the whole post length bit determining your literacy. Like, I understand that if someone posts 150 words you're probably not going to consider them adv. lit, but I get called advanced frequently and I usually only post around 500 words. On top of that, I know a lot of people who can post like 700 words or more but everything else about their writing drops them down to semi-lit in my mind. If they have no style and their character is a cookie cutter, why do they get rated higher just because they can ramble?

              I can't stand people who think they're all that just because they can post a crapload. Like, I don't care if you can write 700 words, okay? If your character sucks then you're still not advanced. I don't care what you say or how many nasty names you call me. I have better things to do then sit around and see how good you are at using a thesaurus.

              I can't stand people who ditch me without saying a word, or worse yet, when someone is in an OOC for a group roleplay and they're being all "mysterious" and I know they're thinking nasty things about me but they just won't come out and say it and then make some big plot to ditch me. What the hell is that? Just because I don't play a cookie cutter hero like everyone else in your stupid roleplay doesn't mean I'm stupid.

              I'm sure you all experienced somewhere. When someone has their character and all they do is say, 'beautiful.' I know if your character is someone that is pretty, sure it's fine to say they are pretty but please don't say that every little thing about this is beautiful and 'God practically made an angel and brought it to Earth.' No, sorry, everyone has flaws. Your character isn't perfect! I use to do a roleplay with this girl who would always say things like, 'she tossed her beautiful hair and her beautiful eyes looked over at Bob over there while her beautiful face gave off a sense of beautiful fear.' (Oh lord that made me cringe actually) This really bothers me, anyone else think that?

              What really irks me is when people put two words together to make a compound word when they're not supposed to. One of the most common of these is the word "alot"--THIS IS NOT A WORD! It's two words, "a" and "lot" separated by a space. PLEASE do not type "alot" when writing. I can't really think of any other examples right now, but...ugh.

              I hate when people (most non lits who want to be semi literate/literate) say "this is a literal roleplay". As opposed to a figurative roleplay? I'm like are you kidding me right now? What are you talking about? If you don't know the difference between literate and literal, this is obviously not a "literal" roleplay.

              one thing i hate most of all is when someone makes a post that i'm supposed to respond to, yet they never involve themselves in leading the story anywhere.

              we'll have five or six posts each and the entire time they're sitting down at a bar, sipping a drink, looking pretty. no context, no subject matter at all. not the slightest hint of storyline offered. it's impossible to deal with.


              I hate it when people aren't ethnically and culturally diverse in their characters.
              GRANTED, I understand. People tend to RP what they know.
              However, I was once in an international competition RP with four different "Regions"
              The Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
              Needless to say, I was slightly disgusted when the only way Africa team could get filled was when the thread owner told everyone "Not everyone in Africa has dark skin"
              So it looked odd to have my Sudanese character next to three people white as snow.

              I mean for goodness sakes, if I absolutely have to use a character image I'll do everything I can to find a picture of someone Middle Eastern or African and if not I at least try to Photoshop it a bit. They have enough time to pour effort into making graphics but not enough time to make their character a bit realistic?


              I had one partner who, if she wasn't reacting to something that I did to progress the story, she'd only complete half an action in her post. Like, her character needed to investigate a murder that involved confronting an NPC that I was controlling at the time. Instead she posts with her character telling her NPC that she needs to talk to this guy...and that's it. I'm supposed to make this character psychic and have him just SHOW UP at her front door because, evidently, that was the most logical course of action for either of us to take.

              She was also constantly throwing her character in front of danger so I'd have to rescue her, so that if my character wasn't conveniently waiting around the corner when she screamed for help she'd be killed.


              Graphics. Everyone loves them. Some people are good at making graphics while some
              unfortunately suck. I'm not saying that I'm good or anything. Compared to a lot of my
              friends I suck too, but some people will not admit that they suck.
              Some people would much rather spend their time adorning their pictures with default
              photobucket decor and doing it in great quantities as well. Not only that, but these
              people will throw together so many pictures in a single layout that it would resemble a
              montage rather than an actual post.

              And while I'm on the subject of post layouts . . . If you're going to make one then please,
              please, please do not ever give your post so much coding that the reader has
              difficulty finding the body of text that contains what really matters.
              I've seen it happen and I kinda sorta wanted to punch the screen.


              I would like to say, however, that this trend toward simply using a photo as a character description worries me a touch. I had hoped that it was just a passing fad-thing when I was told I needed to go find a photo for my character and to look on DevArt and a few other places, but it appears to have stuck. While certain editors out there may think that the web is public domain, there are many things on it that are not. Which means that folks who are out there swiping pictures from artists and cropping them should at least be kind enough to provide a citation/credit/link somewhere.

              What bugs me a lot are the over used roleplay themes/names. For example, a school filled with mythical creatures named Black Rose Acadamy for the Gifted. I'd be personally creeped out if I found a school in real life named something like "Doki Doki Love Highschool!"

              Alphagirl101's List

              For the people who refuse to use anime images because it's not realistic enough, WTF. It's just as weird using real people because those are actual people's images you are using. Those models can come on this site and see their pictures and be, "WTF!? I'm a sparkly vampire!??" I know I'd find it creepy as Hell and weird to see that my picture is being used to play a pregnant vampire or whatever the ******** people are playing to fulfill their wet fantasies. I find it weirder when people use well-known celebrities for their character because I see it as them trying to actually be that said celebrity. Yet that's only SOMETIMES. I DO NOT mean everyone that uses celebrities. And that's what I mostly think for people that play canon characters from movies or TV series or whatever else. (Especially when they cannot do the original character justice and screw them up with their own skewed vision of said character!) I'd probably be more for describing a person's appearance now than using any kind of image, anime or model wise.

              People who start out role playing just fine, and then begin to make mistakes that you clearly stated, before role playing with them, were against the rules, such as godmodding or using Mary Sue type characters. You continue to role play with them, correcting them via narrative or otherwise continue to role play with them after correcting them via OOC, such as either saying (No, he isn't wearing a shirt.) or "Despite not wearing a shirt..." after your partner says your character was, or they have several characters and they didn't specify who spoke up, and you ask. Either way, they get offended, or maybe they're not offended, but they're just losing interest, but they keep posting and don't say anything, except maybe that they were offended. Anyway, you notice that as you continue, their post quality drops. They used to post so beautifully before, but now they're posting as though they're writing a script in second grade, without saying who did what, or without using punctuation or capitalization, or their characters start acting bored and their post length drops, so finally, you pull them over and ask if they're losing interest in the role play, because now they're suddenly giving you cruddy posts, and they blow up in your face, lashing out at you, saying that they thought it was obvious they weren't having fun.

              The other kind is the kind who keeps giving you good posts, despite being offended, except that their characters may be getting frustrated, or their characters may be lashing out, and then when they ditch you, and you ask what was up and they respond, they say they thought it was obvious that they were getting frustrated.

              People, people, quit putting too much of yourselves in your characters. Maybe good role play partners let their characters lash out even if they're having a good time. I mean, why should their characters' emotions match their own?


              Post length requirements. Not the minimums, but maximums. I've seen a few search threads where the creator goes 'I usually type such-and-such number of paragraphs, and don't you dare go over such-an-such number because I'll just drop you/won't read it.' I actually saw one chick say that she loved to type, but hated to read. I wondered, just then, how she edited her posts if she hated going through them.

              I may not write a novel for every post, but if the mood strikes I will extremely angry if my partner or partners can't be bothered to read through it all. It's especially bad if they claim to be lit but won't read over like 5 paragraphs.


              I tend to like posting longer posts, but I hate it when people use meaningless junk to fill space and make the post larger, I tend to feel less likely to read a very long post, unless of course it needs to be that long for all the important details

              When, you're really interested in a role-play, and you and this person make up this amazing plot, and then they just disappear off the face of the earth. :c and you check if they've posted, and they have this other thing going on and its like q_q; was I not pro enough for you. =c Thats saddening, as well as a big irk.

              I think my biggest irk that follows me around with RPs is how everyone view things.
              Too many RPers seem to base around GOOD AND EVIL, but these are mere fictional things we made up to make ourselves feel better at night. I just make all my people neutral because they are capable of both types of tasks. Only a few actually mention how silly the terms are anyway.


              I joined an advlit RP where not only was the only African team filled with characters of general lighter/pale complexion (that were either Asian or white) but one of them was even a goddess to her people or something. I dropped it. Even if people say Africans don't only have dark skin, how many dark-skinned characters are represented in the RP, especially in the only African team? If anything, it should have as diverse a skin tone set as most of the other teams (North & South America, Asia/Islander, Europe), which also failed to have anyone with a skin tone beyond Edward Cullen's. Then again, some people probably fail to realize that dark skinned people exist in places outside of Africa and America.

              If a RP focuses of characters or organizations from all over the world, Africa might be slightly mentioned, but won't actually appear in the RP. If it does, it's likey to be represented by just and only Egypt. I'm not sure if people just don't know anything about Africa, if they believe that it's all one monolithic country or they just think the entire contintent is war-torn and impoverished and thus incapable of fitting in with the rest of the world in their RP. Either way, it's pretty bad. (Never any mention of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Morocco or any of the many countries in North, South, East or West Africa.)

              Oh, and my favorite is the But Not Too Black trope (how I love TvTropes). Because you know, some people don't mind playing a dark-skinned character, but they don't want them anything more than a very light shde of caramel or a light cream-and-coffee color. It wouldn't actually be bad at all if there was simply a greated range of brown, tan (and even some pale) skin tones in any one RP, let alone all of Gaia.


              when the RP masters either take up the 'best' role, or take up like half of them. i mean, if they want control of that many characters, they might as well write a story.

              I absolutely hate when people (girls especially) join roleplays just to find "romance" it is quiet agitating to have someone join your roleplay just because they think they'll get a boyfriend/girlfriend in it. Not only does it irritate me, it makes me very disappointed that they don't see the real reason of roleplays are to exercise creative writing outside of school and work. Roleplays are for fun, not just fictional romances. Now I'm not say it's bad to "fall in love" in a roleplay, I would just like to see people roleplay just to roleplay and have fun.

              I really hate when people take roleplaying way to seriously and expect you to post a certain amount in a given time. I personally, believe roleplaying is a hobby not a job. Most people have lives outside of the roleplay and that needs to be taken into consideration before you say "You have to post every single day and say when you're going to leave blah blah blah"

              I hate it when people make up words for hair color.
              Seriously, I just read a post where this kid has white hair. It started as, "The whitenette boy woke up alone."
              I literally head-desked. The same goes for anyone trying to do "bluenette" or "greenette" or "rainbowcrazyhairnette."
              What happened to "The white-haired boy woke up alone," huh?


              I actually saw a lot of complaints about the exact opposite of this, where a character does nothing in their post, but I roleplayed with someone once who did too much in her posts. Her sentences had the tendency to be five run-ons in one go and her grammar was terrible. She didn't use proper punctuation at all. More often than not, I couldn't even understand what she was trying to say, and yet she sincerely believed that she was 'really good' because she could post three chunky paragraphs. But she made these three chunky paragraphs by moving the story along so much that you didn't have time to respond to most of it. In one post, she would order ice cream, eat all of it, have the waitress comment on how cute you look together, offer her coat, drag you back to her house (without your permission,) and offer you a change of clothes - and then leave before you could respond to even that. So, by the time you got the chance to insert anything, you couldn't really have any proper interaction or say in what was going on.

              Pre-determined crushes. I can understand that the creator wants some control over what kind of characters there will be in the roleplay. But I hate it when I'm told who my character will be romantically interested in! Why can't things like that just happen as the rp moves along? Or if it has to do with the history of two characters, then why can't the players plot that out?

              This whole seme/uke/whatever deal. That has to do with how a person likes it in bed. Not the way they are as a person. And realistically, I think that things like that depends upon the situation your character is in as well as it being relative compared to any other character.
              Those seme/uke stereotypes are just so increadibly annoying in every possible way. Gosh.


              First it was, "I only play girls!" Then it was, "Don't you dare come in here saying you only play girls! I won't play the man to your prissy princess!" Now it's, "I'll play either gender, but I only want to be the kidnapped / slave / virgin / goody-two-shoes / experiment / I could go on for hours." I'd like to assert that, really (in my experience), they're more or less the same thing. All of them. Just sometimes someone is "willing" to play an extremely submissive, almost feminine* character with outy genitals to your mean and evil lady. Argh! Just argh!
              (This is not to say all women are submissive, of course. But this is gaia we're talking about >.> )


              It's more of an ironic irk to me, but it just makes me laugh when I read the rules and the owner says, "No God-moding" as rule one and then as rule x they say "I am God in this role play". I also think the idea that having characters with a pre-determined personality are annoying. I see so many interesting stories that have space open for people to join, but they won't because the only characters are left have such negative connotations with them. (An example of this being a role play where they had an artist, musician, nerd, and then the (I'm not kidding you) "Gossip Whore". Who in their right mind would look at that and say, "Gee, that's a character I would love to play as?"

              As far as the irks go, I'm really bothered by people who can't put the research into their characters. If you're going to play in a part of the world, an ethnicity, have a career then you should at least put the 10 minutes worth of research into understanding and developing your character.

              Example: If you're going to play the character of a scientist, I don't expect you to know quantum physics by heart. However, if you're going to role play a scientist you should at least be able (in basic detail) to be able to tell me what it is your character does.


              The last irk is devotion. I think in every role play I'm going to put it in huge, obnoxious bold letters across the first post. If you're going to take the time to write out a profile and ask the creator to add you to their role play, the least you could do is be devoted to it. I'm not saying you have to click the refresh button repeatedly. Just, if you don't have the time and aren't really that interested, why join?

              I know people have talked about how people go and sometimes require fancy pictures and all that jazz for posts and stuff. When in reality that is outrageous when many people don't have the ability to make those kinds of things easily and they don't have gold to spend/ they don't have gold they want to spend just join in a role-play. However, when it comes to me choosing a role-play the set up of the first post has to look decent or else I won't even consider looking at the plot to it. It may seem a little selfish and picky, but to me if I have to see this front page to look for updates and what not I would like for it to look nice. I mean come on how hard is it to put a couple of lists into your post, change the font size to something smaller, add a little color, and possibly put in a decent sized picture that doesn't take up to much space compared to the text or so small that the text seems like it is going to attack picture. I don't know maybe it is just me, but seriously, sloppy looking opening posts bother me with a passion.

              Oh my goodness, another thing that bothers me is really really bright colors. How does anybody expect someone to read something when it seems like they're looking into the sun? I mean there are all the colors of the rainbow, yet yellow had to be the color chosen. Why not ust stick a flashlight right in front of my face until my eye sight gets even worse. I already have glasses. Why does it have to become even worse as a result of people's stupid color choices?

              One thing that really bothers me is when someone types up a seven giant paragraphed post, goes way overboard with detail, and talks about things that most people would just skip over (such as four paragraphs describing waking up and thinking about sleeping in). When you finally finish reading their post you look at their OOC speak and they apologize for the crappy post. Really?

              And it would be different if this was the only time they apologize for "crappy" posts, but no... they have to do this each and every time they get a post up. Seriously, it makes everyone else feel like you are whining about your own posting--which is beyond annoying.


              I hate it when people try to use celebrities as their characters. In my opinion, part of character development is the frustration of finding a model who matches your mental image of the character, and has good pictures that you can edit enough to not be violating copyright laws. [i'm a journalist - i have to be serious about this kind of stuff. In fact, it's become one of my top priorities recently. If i can't edit enough, i credit. Still technically illegal, but eh, it works.] Blood sweat and tears attach one to one's character - googling 'Zac Efforon' doesn't.

              People who make Sues, and then get offended when you point it out. I recently got in big big trouble recently for sarcastically joking in an out of character thread about how original one of the other Rpers characters was as a rape victim. Granted, there were probably nicer ways to say it, but i could have said what i was really thinking; "Your character sucks and you're a terrible person for thinking that was a good idea."

              The worst part about it? She was a vampire. A rape victim turned vampire by some random vampire. I cried tears of blood.


              People who b***h about the rules. Gee, I'm sorry that we're all being flexible for you and waiting for you to find a picture for your character who isn't a celebrity, but trying to slip an 'obscure' celebrity, or an overused model [i call them meme models] past us is only going to piss us off. And it is a rule. So don't b***h about the rules when you blatantly break them, and quitting an Rp you've already applied to because you got caught breaking the rules? That makes you a super huge, amazingly awesome, golden god. Oh yeah. You keep doing that bucko.

              Incorrectly edited pictures. I'm not talking about posting styles here, i'm cool with pretty much anything as long as it isn't obnoxious and makes my eyes bleed. It's when pictures are distorted beyond belief and/or incorrectly cropped that i flat out reject someone despite their abilities as a roleplayer. Generally, for my reserves, i have icons or some other small picture of the characters on the front page. If they're anything other than 100x100, then i provide detailed, step-by-step instructions for creating the correctly sized picture. If you can't follow simple instructions - i don't want you in my Rp. If you don't understand that 100x100 is a square, i don't want you in my Rp. If you think that a man's face should, in fact, be only three inches wide when he's six feet tall, i don't want you in my Rp.

              When someone posts a 5+ paragraph post, and only the last paragraph is something new in the plot. I hate it when someone recaps your entire post from their character's point of view and then makes you do all the work. I have a bad habit of slowly posting shorter and shorter responses to these type of people before simply giving up all together. It's exhausting; I imagine it's rather like Sisyphus' life. Or after life. Same difference.

              People who either refuse to help you plot, refuse to let you plot, or ask you to change the plot in your roleplay because they like everything about a character except for one thing. The first two have probably already been bitched about, so i'll simply share and anecdote about the last. I once created an Rp in which one of the characters had a sexual relationship in the past with one of the other characters who was of the same gender. The character was now straight, as i tend to stick to hetero Rps to keep the numbers even, but someone who wanted to apply for the role wanted me to change up the character's past so that she'd be more comfortable filling it. Needless to say, someone else got the spot.

              People who super list! If your text takes up an inch of the right side of my screen, i'm not going to bother reading it. I hate this with a burning passion, and i have no idea why people think it's visually appealing. I understand having the text line up with a side graphic, i do that myself, but too much white space is a no no! This may just be the journalist in me again; when laying out the pages we have to be careful about our use of white space, though on a newspaper it's more like dirty smudgy grey space. I still hate it.

              I can't stand it when the laws of physics clearly are not applied. gonk I mean, in some roleplays it's okay because it's fantasy and all, but when there's someone out on a spaceship without a helmet on...they're going to suffocate! Okay, that's not physics-y, so I'll try again. When someone's in outer space without a helmet on and ignoring the not breathing part and sucking through a straw. It's impossible! But really only someone who cares enough to nerd out about that stuff notices. xD On another note in the same strain, a case of Did Not Do the Research also irks me.

              Japanese names on non-Japanese characters in non-Japanese settings.

              I grit my teeth and bear it for fantasy settings, but it makes me RAGE otherwise. Because it's so. Freaking. Overdone. And so often it is just a package deal with someone's terrible Mary-Sue character. It makes me want to punt people.


              What really gets to me in a roleplay is when someone joins thinking they're all high and mighty because they've joined a literate roleplay, but then on the first post in the ooc they just say "sorry for the crappy post." Yeah, okay, it's fine, you're human. We make mistakes. But then the next post comes around and in the ooc, "omg soooo sorry this is baddddd and I'll get betterrr(:." Really? You will? Are you sure about that, cause you're not better yet. But it doesn't stop. Every single post is them nagging on themselves. What are you supposed to respond to that with? 'It's okay, you tried your best...it's not so crappy..." I mean seriously. Either be a decent writer or don't join a roleplay. >.>

              I hate when people judge a character on who their using. I see this especially in literate roleplays with celebs as who they use. People have crushes just because, 'ooh look its JUSTIN BIEBER! My character loves him! And we gonna grow up and have children and-" seriously. Roleplaying is not a way to create a character after yourself and start dating people.

              Y'know a major irk of mine? It's when a single person has 5+ characters in one role play (not counting NPCs) and therefore practically controls the plot and makes it all about them. Has that ever happened to you guys? So many a wonderful role play have been destroyed by one person with too many characters ;[ No one else has any response time in that situation because the person winds up role playing with him- or herself, and it's just frustrating because all the other role players can do is watch as things happen that they would normally want their character(s) to react to.

              When people have characters that say that they grew up in the street or had really abusive parents or just something like that. Normally when that happens in my roleplays, oh look here comes five more profiles with characters with a very dramatic history. Yes I know it helps form a character, but some people I've roleplayed with you mention their parents and they slap your character, leave, or burst into tears. I just don't get it.

              people who have crazy coding in the OOC thread. I personally have seen a decline in it, but every now and then you will be in an OOC thread and one person will have a pimped out posting style and act like the rest of us are inferior peasants because we didn't so much as re-size our text. Who cares?

              How come Gaians always limits themselves to certain genres(Especially fantasy)? It takes experimentation to create a good RP'er, but if a person isn't willing to experiment, how can they ever grow as a writer and a roleplayer?

              While there are certainly many things that piss me off about roleplaying these days, I hate, hate, hate, hate, HATE when people have the title of their roleplay all done up in fancy characters. If it takes me twenty minutes to decode the title of a roleplay, it isn't worth it. Many people tend to forget that some computers can't even READ the characters, so you end up with a row of weird, box-like symbols with numbers inside as your title. It makes me want to punch babies.

              The creator of the roleplay either says in the rules "not everyone is beautiful!" or predetermines certain characters to be trolls, gremlins, swamp monsters, etc. But if you deviate in the slightest bit from traditional beauty, good luck getting your character acknowledged. Ugly, old, fat, bald, or mutated beast characters? Nobody acknowledges you in the roleplay. They'll pass you, say "hey", maybe make some idle banter, but if it comes to plotting or -- heaven forbid -- romance, you're kicked to the dust. You can be a sidekick or something if you're friends with one of the other roleplayers, but good luck.

              Why do people assume Teens are the most hardcore. I dont mean like Everyones a Teen, I mean like the person whos 19 but THE STRONGEST SWORDSMAN IN THE LAND or THE MOST LETHAL ASSASSIN or THE MOST THIS or THE MOST THAT.
              >> for you Modern folks, we can say "THE BEST POLICE OFFICER" or "THE MOST RUTHLESS CRIMINAL" or "THE MOST HEROIC" ... etc... etc... <<
              It's a bit irritating because a teen aint gunna know sh!t compared to a dude in their 30's or 40's.
              If a 19 year old who was trained from birth to kill fights a 40 year old trained from birth to kill, aint no way in hell the 19 yr old's gunna win. The 40 may be older, but he's done it longer, and has way, way WAY more experience.
              The only way he'd lose is if he pulled a disney/hollywood villain and pulled an incredi-stupid.


              __ _ R i N N i E xx's list

              I call it - a plot killer.
              It's a character where several things goes against the plot. Like a cellphone in the middle of the stone-age, or magical powers where there shouldn't be any. When you then tell the RPers: "Hey, I think you've missed a thing, there isn't supposed to be la and la, try to replace it." some just can't figure out what to do. Dunno if it's because my writing is weird, as am I(which I'm proud of), but yeah; it irks me.


              And this leads me to my irk: Disrespect for any and/or all elements of the RP. The rules, your fellow role-players, common logic, whatever it may be, respect them.

              It irks me when I sign up for a one x one, get the plot and characters ready, start a thread, and spend a lot of time making a good first post only to have my role play partner disappear and never even post. They never even explained why they didn't post, or talked to me again. It was just stupid. >.<;

              When people in group roleplays don't even make an attempt to talk to anyone, then have the nerve to complain about it! Chances are, if you're on the opposite side of the town from everyone else and doing something completely unrelated, no one will be replying to you. So instead they go off and write sad songs with ____ instrument. At least come up with a more unique way to be sad.

              Telling people how many paragraphs you can post. I find that you can't measure in paragraphs because everyone's paragraphs are different in size. Mine can range from six words to six hundred words, and yours should range as well, granted that you break things up correctly.

              Keely Que Linda's list

              It irks me when all of the females in a roleplay are heterosexual while all of the males are homosexual. seriously ? not every man on the ******** planet is homosexual. in most roleplays, there are a set amount of characters for each gender. it's fine when there is one or two homosexual male characters. but it gets way out of control when you have eight homosexual males out of ten males, while all of the female characters are heterosexual. where does that leave the females ? now you have a bunch of females left out the loop of romance. i know that most people prefer homosexual male romance nowadays, but it's getting ridiculously out of control. 8|

              It really irks me when i see a character who is half this and half that. i don't mean races like black and white, i mean mythical creatures. like someone who is half vampire, quarter elf, one eighth god, and one eighth human. it is just ridiculous to see those kinds of characters, because they tend to be all - powerful and every character wants to have a intimate relationship with them. it's fine when your character is half vampire, half human. whatever. but when they have a shitload of races mixed in with them, it gets hair - ripping annoying.

              This is one thing that really irritates me when I look at one x one threads. It's when people mention 'I don't want to see a novel for every post'. I just want to bash my head on to my keyboard every time I see that.

              A couple of paragraphs a post automatically means it's a novel? Hell I can type out six or eight paragraphs on one page in word document and it won't even be long enough to be called an essay much more (or is that much less?) a novel.

              I know it's just some sort of 'slang' now in the rp world but FFF. Just say that you don't want any pointless stuff in your post. >.>


              Sometimes I want genuine feedback from the other writers in rp's and when I say something in the OoC thread they're just like "Your posts is fine darling." I want to get better at roleplaying, and I'm asking you for your genuine opinion on this post, and that's all you've got for me? Erg >.<

              The one thing that peeves me off most when I'm roleplaying with people, is when they're NAZIs about every rule they've instilled in their roleplay, and then make it nigh impossible for you to follow them.
              I mean, I get it you want 5 paragraphs with no fluff, and 3 posts a week, with perfect grammar.
              I get it. I can do that.
              But when you go off on me because my creativity cannot come up with 5 paragraphs without fluff because you didn't leave me anything to reply to, well, screw you buddy.
              Another rule I've run into recently is taboo subjects. Why should I be restricted from a particular subject? Doesn't the TOS do that for us? I understand you may be upset by someone going into a 'taboo' subject for you, but it shouldn't be outright banned from your roleplay. It should be handled case by case.


              It irks me when I'm role playing with someone and they're online but they're not posting in the role play. So, you figure they're probably busy, but you look at their recent posts and see that they've been posting in another role play the past hour. -.-'

              when people use real pictures & it's of Justin Beiber trying to pass as a 25 year old or some s**t. DD8

              It really bothers me when someone uses a scene kid for ALL of their characters. :I

              It's really made me (for lack of a better word) "racist" against scene kids. I can't stand 'em anymore.

              Scene kids were never all that cool to begin with.


              Another thing that super makes me mad about roleplays.. When two roleplayers only communicate among themselves. Like, character A & B only hang out together while character's C, D, E & F are left out of their loop. D8 & When characters C, D, E or F try to talk to them, they completely ignore/get away from those characters as fast as possible.

              Personally, it irks me when the role play creator has a bunch of his or her friends in the role play, and s/he only plots/interacts with them, and they have this whole thing going on.. and you feel like your character (and all the other underdogs) are just filler characters.


              People who posts 5+ paragraphs in RP's designated for casual or new players. >.<
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              Irks page continued. The first post finally got so long that gaia told me to cut it down xDD

              What really irks the hell out of me is when roleplayers make their characters with names that are considered foreign to the roleplay's setting, and have absolutely no explanation for it. Especially if the setting is OBVIOUSLY JAPANESE. I know, I know, Japanese culture is always the most popular in roleplays, but it makes my blood boil when most of the profiles sent in for a roleplay of mine, which was based on a fandom that is obviously Japanese, and read that their names and surnames are English, but when I read the character bio, there is NO explanation for it. No moving from *insert country here* to this country, no legal name change. Somehow, they were born in a pure Japanese family with English names. That's one way to make me rage.

              When roleplayers prove that they obviously did not read the literacy level of the roleplay. It shows when they send in profiles, and there are way too many grammatical errors that makes one wonder if they even stopped to read their profile over. I reject these profiles on the spot.

              It's more of an irritation than something that makes me rage; When roleplayers don't even look at the profile thread and try to at least understand the characters they will be interacting with. Now, this might be something odd to mention, but I would like to point out why, exactly, it irritates me. Most of the roleplayers that try to fill in a female role want "soft, quite, yet stern" characters. That is fine, I don't mind a level headed female in the roleplay. I do not, however, want nine of them running around in there. I believe this happens because they do not care to see the personality section on the other characters' profiles. Please, if you see there's already a forgiving female that's not a fighter, don't ever make a copy! It's quite annoying.

              When people claim they don't want to do a certain gender role just because they are the opposite gender. I am a female myself, but I find it fun to RP as a male every now and then. Maybe more than I do female characters. Really, it isn't the fact that they can't. The real fact is that they don't want to, and they prefer another person to be their awesome Bishi Boy that'll be their Mary-Sue's love interest forever and ever and ever.

              You say you "can't roleplay normal humans", that you're no good at it. No, you can't roleplay. You shouldn't need magic wings or magic powers or other bull to give you material to write about. Roleplay is about the character's psychology, now how omgawesomesauce they are.

              Stop calling yourself an "elite" writer. I read your work. It's trash. Even if it wasn't trash, let the person read your samples and decide.

              Your character revealing everything off the bat, and that little one-dimensional NPC who is obsessed with said character. Grow up.

              I just went in to an RP where one of the creator specifically said that it was an Asian/Caucasian roleplay. Did they seriously just opt out every other race there is in existence like that? I mean is it even possible to find characters that are Latina or Black in Barton? I know I've done it before. I'm pretty sure other people can to.

              Word repetition. It makes me want to vomit. I understand if it is done very rarely and is clearly an accident, but I despise when people can't expand their vocabulary. For example, "The red ball hit me in the face and made my face red, really stinging my face." No matter what it is you are trying to describe, there are millions of synonyms to aid you. Heck, use Google!

              Well when people add 'hehe' or 'hee hee' when their character is talking. Like "Oh that's nice hee hee" or "That was so funny hey wanna come over to my house hehe." It really ticks me off, I don't know why. It just does. And also, font size 12 makes me sad. I don't knnow why, either. :c

              the weather system.


              Something that really grinds my gears is perfect characters. I have to admit sometimes my characters sometimes can be "extremely powerful" sometimes but they ALWAYS have flaws, always, even if it's only one.
              I had a character, an elf, he had skin as hard as rock, and i specifically mentioned telepathy did not work on him due to his skin composition. (on the beginning of the roleplay) and SOMEHOW his mind got read, all the time, it frustrated me because everyone's characters were "special" or more than the others, they are always perfect in every way, always "distant, lonely and gorgeous" Heck, my characters used to be "Introvert, nature lover., had a weird tick on his nose sometimes"
              So basically my irk is how people have to be perfect and all fight for the main role.

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