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Osi's Unofficial Guide to Roleplaying
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Introduction

Hi, and welcome to my unofficial guide to roleplaying. ^^ Before we begin, I'd like to point at that I am not, in any way, saying that what I write here is the only, or the best, way to roleplay: I am merely setting up a guide for those who have no idea about how to go about it, or would like some hints on how to improve their roleplaying.

Questions, and suggestions, are both appreciated and loved.

The basics: Style

First off, I'll start with the very basics of roleplaying - the style. There are two main styles of roleplaying:

Asterisk style
The first is where you use asterisk to show movement or gesture that your character makes.

eg: *Osi stands on a soap box to address the crowd* Hi, thank you for reading this.

This is usually considered a less formal, or even 'illiterate' (I mean no offence by this term) way of roleplaying, and is usually used in forum chat or OOC threads. The tense for this style is usually present. Use of asterisk, or other alternatives (Such as -action -, or /action) are often a good way to ease into roleplaying for beginners, though I don't suggest you leap into an RP in this style unless other roleplayers are using it also.

Novel Style
The second style I'll talk about is the more formal, or 'literate' style of roleplaying (Again, no offence meant), where you write your words and actions much like you'd find them in a book.

eg: Crouching down in front of her laptop, Osi rubbed at bloodshot eyes, squinting at the screen.

"Wow." She murmured, not quite believing what she was seeing. "I'm at two-hundred and seventy five words on this thing already?"

This style is almost always used in past tense, and is the style used for the majority of roleplays. Unlike the 'asterisk' style, in 'book' style, it's best to try and observe correct grammar and spelling rules, though this doesn't have to be done to the letter.

As a general rule for roleplaying, try running your posts through a spelling and grammar check (I use Microsoft word) before posting it. Having corrected spelling can improve your post tenfold!

Second: Character

Obviously, to roleplay, you need a character of some kind. Usually characters are some kind of humanoid creature, though it is not uncommon to find animal roleplays and other varieties also. My suggestion to first time roleplayers is to start with a human (or something close to) character, as how humans react, move and speak will be much more familiar to you then how, say, a wolf would be.

Let's start with an example profile and go through it piece by piece.

Character name:
Age:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Family:
Occupation:
Weapon:
Magic:

First off, character name:
This one isn't incredibly difficult. I would generally suggest putting your character's full name, first and family (and even middle name, if you'd like) in here, unless you have a specific reason for your character to not have a last name. Its little details, such as a last name, that fills out a character. Also, if your character has any aliases or preferred nicknames, here is the place to put them.

This brings us to age:
Now, I know the majority of us want to play teenagers or young adults, yet this isn't a must do. There is no reason why you can't play a forty year old man, if you really want to. Try to pick an age that's appropriate for the roleplay.

Now we get to the more interesting things. Appearance and personality are two criteria that I've noticed people having the most problems with, so I'll try to break both down a bit.

Appearance:
Quite a few people get around appearance by using pictures, rather then describing their character. While this is alright, I personally feel that using just a picture fails to highlight all aspects of your character's looks - if you really want to use a picture, try writing a short paragraph, or even a few sentences, to go with it and truly make the picture into your character! For those of you who, like me, prefer written descriptions of your characters, we'll cover the basics.

- Hair/Eye color: Try not to be too cliche and unnatural with these (oh my word, every second character has red eyes!), yet don't just leave it as 'brown hair and blue eyes'. Going into shades of color, and different styles and lengths for hair, can really add to both your characters appearance and personality, and make them stand out from the crowd.

- Height: While this might not seem important, it can actually be used in later actions in the roleplay. Try looking back at how tall, or short, other characters are so you can have your character react accordingly, whether that is by looking up when speaking to another character, or failing to see them because they're much shorter then your own.

- Physical structure: Again, whilst not seeming very important, your character's build can say a lot about their personality. Weight can also come into this category, if you wish to include it. For example, if your character is a body-builder, you will want to mention how muscle-bound his body is. The same were your character a ballet dancer - you can go into the long, lithe figures. Skin-tone and color are also good to pop in. In this category, you can also mention how they walk or move, or any scars or disabilities your character might have.

- Clothing: While this is not, perhaps, an absolutely necessary criterion, it can help define your character. Instead of describing one outfit (Unless, of course, your character won't change clothes at all during the roleplay), try describing the style and colors of dress your character prefers, or even styles/colors that they hate. Jewelry and accessories also add an individual touch to a character.

The personality makes the character:
Personality is one of those criteria which can be a little vague - after all, our personality changes over them. Your character's can do the same over the course of an RP. Try not to just sum it up in a few words though -
Personality: Cold, brooding, doesn't like people but will warm up to you if you try hard enough.

While this may be the bare bones of a personality, it doesn't actually say much about the character. Try elaborating a little on how they might react. Also, in the last point, there is a slight contradiction: 'Will warm up to you if you try hard enough'. If a character keeps away from others, he will not likely let other characters close enough unless forced to. Try to make sure your character's personality is consistent. Also, it is a good idea to keep your character's past in mind when creating a personality for them. If a person had a happy childhood, it is unlikely they will turn out a cold, brooding person.

Which brings us to History:
The first point I'll make on this one is try to avoid making your character have amnesia, unless there is a real, solid reason for it. This might just be a pet peeve of mine, but I just would like to make the point that a person does not just suddenly get amnesia for any reason. It's the same deal for the "Saw his/her family murdered in front of his/her eyes at the age of nine" story; not everyone, unless it is a war-time roleplay, can have this story.

My main reason for using these two scenarios is to emphases this: Try to be original! There is no crime in giving your character a 'normal' past, with a loving family, school and what-not. In fact, if often makes your character unique. Also, try to make your character's past synch with the roleplay: If it's a modern-day, realistic roleplay, you should try not to bring in demon-hordes and the like.

Family:
I'll be short on this one, I promise. Again, there is nothing wrong with having your character having a family: I'm sure not everyone's family in an entire roleplay was either killed off by the bad-guy, or were evil and abusive.

Mentioning family members also gives you the added option of bringing in a minor character attached to your main one; siblings can have rivalries, children can run to their parents for protection. Giving your character a family can help you shape their personality and history, depending on these minor character's own lives and stories.

Occupation:
Whilst not absolutely necessary, giving your character an occupation not only gives them something to do but, once again, can reflect their character. It also gives reason for other characters to interact with your own. For example, were you character a blacksmith, other characters could come to you to have their weapons fixed, etc. Having an occupation gives your character both purpose, and a range of skills other characters might not have. A word of advice though: if your character is in their teens, it's unlikely they could have become a master swordsman or blacksmith in that amount of time, no matter how long or hard they trained. There's no shame in being an apprentice.

Weapon:
Again, in my opinion, this category is not absolutely necessary unless you're joining a battle RP. After all, people generally don't walk around their own village armed to the teeth (or, at least, they don't where I'm from). If you're playing a peasant or farmer character, I'm sorry, but the most you'll likely have is a knife of sorts.
This brings me to characters that do carry around weapons, such as mercenaries, or the like. My general rule is this: Don't overload on the weapons. More weapons does not make you more cool. Try to think your weapons choice out: your character cannot physically carry around a broadsword, a double-bladed sword and a great-axe. I personally try to give my character one weapon (two if one of them is a bow), yet this isn't a rule. Just try to keep it sensible. ^^
One other thing; if it's a Medieval Europe style roleplay, try not to give foreign weapons, such as katanas or throwing stars, to your character, unless they are specifically from that country.

Magic:
First of all, I'd like to say that there is absolutely no obligation for your character to have magical powers, even if everyone else in the roleplay does (unless the roleplay creator specifies otherwise).
Now that I've said that, I'll say much the same thing I did with weapons: don't overload your character with magical powers. It is highly unlike that your character, no matter how special, will have perfectly mastered every elemental power by the age of 17. Remember, kids, limits are fun! Even if your character is a highly magically based, they can't go shooting fireballs forever. The most important thing, when using magic in a roleplay, is limits.

And that brings us to the end of dissecting a basic profile! The key, pretty much, is detail and moderation in powers, strength and weapons. ^^ Originality is never bad.

Third: Actually roleplaying (The dos and don'ts)

The dos:
- Alright, if you got through all the last section, I'm impressed. This means that you're going to do well in roleplaying, as one of the most important things you can do is read everyone else's posts. You don't want to miss out on important information or character movement just because you were feeling lazy.

- Do go into detail! How your character moves, what they think, little gestures. These sorts of things add life to what could otherwise be a rather dull, cookie-cutter caricature.

- Keep all conversation that is not related to your character, or 'OOC' (Out of Character) out of your direct roleplaying. Larger roleplays will often have an OOC thread which you can discuss your roleplay in, rather then break up the actual storyline, or you can use methods such as ((brackets)) to keep conversation separate. Try to settle all matters on plot, fighting and general conversation within OOC. Arguments of any kind should -definitely- be kept to OOC, preferably private message or e-mail if possible.

- Make sure what you're having your character do is consistent with what other players are doing, or with the plot. For example, if a players character is alone in a room, with the door locked, your character cannot suddenly be in the room with them. Use the door, mate. It's what it's there for.

The don'ts:
- Don't ignore other players just because they don't fit in with where you want to go with your character. There's nothing worse then entering a roleplay and having everyone ignore you because they're caught up in doing their own thing. Pretty much, it's rude.

- I'd suggest that you don't leave the roleplay for long periods of time, then expect everything to be the same when you come back. Along with this, if you need to leave for a while, try to write your character out of the plot before you do. Leaving your character in the middle of a conversation with another and then leaving for a month is incredibly annoying for other players.

- Please, if only for my sake, do not godmode. This is the act of constantly either not letting the actions of others effect your character, or making 'auto-hits' on another person's character. This can be seriously annoying to other players, and extremely frustrating. Also, avoid doing the impossible, such as somehow dodging a point-blank attack unscathed. Godmoding can also be called C&E, cause and effect. Don't affect others characters unless you have their permission!

- Don't feel that you have to make your posts long to look intelligent. Often you don't need to make especially long posts. Just say what you feel you need to say. On the other hand, don't just post a line or two - you can describe more then that! Moderation is the key, my dears.

- Having a 'sixth sense' of absolutely everything going on around your character is not only unrealistic, but can be plain annoying for more stealthy characters. Unless someone makes a move to draw your attention to them, such as stepping on a twig, etc, it's unlikely you're going to see/hear them. Try to keep things at least remotely realistic, and give other characters a chance! You don't have to 'win' the roleplay.

I'll add more to this section as I think of things. ^^;

Fourth: Creating a Roleplay.

There are three things you need in a roleplay:
- Plot
- Setting
- Aim

Plot:
Myself, I think the first, plot, is the most important part of your roleplay. Although it's important to give your players a degree of freedom in what their characters do, a plot is the driving force of your roleplay. Frankly, without a plot, your roleplay is more then likely going to die (I speak from personal experience @.@). The best plots, I've found, are when there is no 'good' and 'bad' side, although those do work rather well. Try to encourage players to evenly take one side or another, so that you don't have one 'good' character against a horde of villains, or visa versa. Also, don't snap up the best lead role for yourself, unless you particularly need it played in a certain way. Try to have equal roles for each character.

Setting:
Again, this is important. Try not to just say "a dark forest", or, "an open field". Give your players locations and landmarks to work with.

Aim:
While this might not seem important, try and have an ending or final aim for your roleplay. This provides a goal for you to try and coax your players towards, and should keep the story moving. If you reach the goal, you can always set up a new one.

Remember kids
Whilst having lots of information and detail in your roleplay is often a good thing, make sure you don't overdo it. Often, if your intro posts are too long, players won't want to read it all. Keep in mind how much you are willing to read, and try to keep your intro lengths to around that.

And we're done!

If you managed to get through that giant slab of text, I must say I'm impressed! Well, I hope this was of some use to you. ^^ Remember, that what's in here is just my advice to roleplayers, not the roleplaying bible or anything.
Unofficial Guide, of course. XD I wrote this up...a year or so back? Maybe more. Mostly because I had some people ask me questions about roleplaying and the like, and partially because I was very bored.

If you don't agree with something I've said, please don't kill me about it. This is just my own beliefs on roleplaying, and certainly not a must-do. I'm not trying to force anyone to comply. XD Honesty.
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If you type Roleplaying into your wikipedia search bar, it will give you the following result:
In roleplaying, participants adopt and act out the role of characters, or parts, that may have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own. Roleplaying, also known as RP to some, is like being in an improvisational drama or free-form theater, in which the participants are the actors who are playing parts, and the audience.

People use the phrase "role-playing" in at least three distinct ways:
  • to refer to the playing of roles generally such as in a theater, or educational setting;
  • to refer to a wide range of games including computer role-playing games, play-by-mail games and more;
  • or to refer specifically to role-playing games.
The version I'm going to be teaching you is similar to play-by-mail, which already tells you a lot. The easiest way I can describe it is as storywriting, with more than one author. Everyone picks one or more characters to roleplay, meaning your writing should focus on these characters. In most cases, it's not even allowed to decide what other characters say or do.

Media to use in roleplay can differ from e-mail, to forums, to more direct means such as instant messenger applications.

Now I will give you a step-by-step tutorial on roleplaying, disregarding the chosen media. That doesn't really matter.

1. Picking your form

There are two different ways to roleplay:
  1. Canon (using characters and stories from existing fandoms such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings)
  2. Original (making up your own story and original characters)
I shall give you the pros and cons of both ways:

Canon
  1. pros: Characters have already been established, rules of the worlds have been set, storylines are already partly formed.
  2. cons: You have to know the characters well to make your roleplaying at all believable, you are limited by the rules and regulations of the existing world, people have expectations.

Original
  1. pros: You have all the freedom in the world, no one can tell you you are being out of character, no one can limit your imagination.
  2. cons: Setting up rules, a world and a storyline is difficult, building the characters into believable personas is hard, there is a risk of making your roleplay too lengthy and slow, thus boring.


2. Picking your plot

After picking your kind of roleplay, you have to start deciding about your plot. This includes your setting, your characters and your story.


2.1 Picking your setting

Canon
If you have chosen to go Canon, first you have to decide what kind of fandom you wish to roleplay in. Once you have done that, you must choose a starting point for your roleplaying. Easiest would be picking the ending of a film or book, or a certain breakpoint in the already existing story, from there, given you know the characters well, it's easy to start. Important to know is where you are, when you're there and why you are there.

Original
More tricky is picking a setting for an original roleplay. My tip is to first decide on your genre; adventure, angst, romance, humor, or of course a mix of many. Once you've done that, it's easiest to first determine some traits of your world, it's general inhabitants and it's culture. Stick to basic time frames: past, present or future. Don't hesitate to stick to cliches. After all, roleplay is meant to be fun, not a masterpiece.

2.2. Picking your characters

Canon
Picking your characters for a canon roleplay is pretty easy. Most people pick main characters of fandoms, others, who fancy more of a challenge, choose the smaller roles. Important is that you and your fellow roleplayers pick characters that would somehow meet each other, or have met each other. Picking characters that wouldn't, in character, ever meet, is pointless. Choosing a canon roleplay doesn't mean that original characters aren't allowed. Just make sure they fit with the canon.

Original
Picking your original character is a difficult business. I generally find that for an original roleplay, plot developments all go together. But most of the time, once you have picked your setting, genre and timeframe, you can come up with something sensible. Especially for beginners, it's important to make sure your characters aren't too complicated and most of all, that they fit together.

2.3 Picking your storyline

Canon
Picking your storyline for a canon roleplay isn't as hard as picking one for an original roleplay. Easiest is to pick the ending of a book or movie, or pick a breakpoint in the story to start at. Given you know the characters well, you should know what they generally do in their lives and you can use that to create a plot. However, in roleplay, it's not necessary to plan everything, because it's a collaborative project that needs to grow and for the most part relies on the spontaneous actions of your co-authors.

Original
Plotting your storyline in an original roleplay is more difficult, but I can give some tips on this matter. I find it easiest to start in the middle of something, be it a fight, a flight, or a dinner, it doesn't really matter, but it gives your roleplay a kickstart. Keeping a bit of action in our roleplay is always good. Don't focus too much on character development on a short notice, this is more a lengthy process.

3. Picking your writing style

After you've determined your plot, you have to decide what style you want  to use.  You can pick between first or third person and  past and present tense.

First person
Writing in first person means that you write your actions starting with I. Example:
I walked briskly towards the nearest post office to check if his package had arrived yet.
This form of writing focuses on your own character a lot and allows for much thoughts and character development. This gives your writing a 'diary' feel.

Third person
Writing in third person is more suitable for a big collaborative project, as it often portrays a general view instead of a character focused one. Example:
Lizzie walked briskly towards the nearest post office to check if his package had arrived yet.
Less self centered, this form of writing is more inviting to other readers and writers.

Present tense
Writing in the present tense means writing the story as if it is happening right now. Example:
I walk briskly towards the nearest post office to see if his package has arrived yet.
I personally find this a very unattractive form of writing because it often makes it difficult to get sucked into the story.

Past tense
Writing in the past tense means writing as if it's already happened. Example:
   Lizzie walked briskly towards the nearest post office to check if his package had arrived yet.
Most novels are written in the past tense.

4. Structuring your roleplay post

Writing a roleplay post is a difficult task to accomplish, as others rely on your story to reply to. Thus, a elaborate piece of writing is nice. Include actions, descriptions and dialogue. Try to direct it to other people's characters too. Example:
Lizzie walked briskly to the nearest post office to see if his package had arrived yet. The streets were busier than she had hoped for, causing her to be delayed at three traffic lights on her way there. She crossed the last street in a run,  skidding to a halt on the sidewalk as she saw him standing there. "What are you d-doing here?" she stammered, smiling, "But you said, the package, in the mail.... not... what are you doing here?"
Lizzie ran a hand through her hair as she approached him, glowing with happiness to see him.
The more you give the other roleplayers to go on, the easier it is for them to reply. In this case, the 'he' in the above paragraph would be the other person's character.

This more or less concludes the step-by-step how to, but lastly, some do's and dont's.

5. Do's and dont's

Do's
  • Communicate with your fellow writers about the storyline, especially if the roleplay gets stuck.
  • Write long posts.
  • Try to include everyone.
  • Respect your fellow roleplayers.
  • Take a challenge.
  • Use ((OOC: your message)) to talk about things nothing to do with the roleplay, in your post.
  • Stay in-character.
  • Have fun.
Dont's
  • Roleplay someone else's character without permission.
  • Kill or seriously injure someone else's character or do anything the other person might not like.
  • Do something your character would never do.
  • Make your character perfect, or extreme in any other way. Don't give your character superpowers unless the story requires it.
  • Write one-liners (one or two sentences posts).
  • Post only once in three months.
  • Make it all about you.

6. For more information

If the above has made you interested in the art of roleplaying, or you simply have a question, leave a comment on the post and I'll get back to you.
My beginners guide to roleplay, no idea if all the html works, if not, will update.

Originally posted on Behind the Page

sources used: Wikipedia
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10 Basic Rules for RPing:

1. No godmodding, even in the slightest. Leave everything open for anything to happen, and then if you're RPing with another good RPer, they will respond reasonably. This means you never control another characters actions, and never make it impossible for a character to get out of a situation. If you’ve set up a precedent for something and the other RPer can also follow rules, then the RP will go well. For example, having guards come out of nowhere and surround someone to make it impossible for them to get away or fight their way out is godmodding. If however they’ve say, infiltrated a castle and you’ve set a precedent that you’ve got guards there, then that would likely be okay, so long as you keep things realistic. The guards won’t be there immediately, it takes time for them to arrive and respond. And please, for sanity’s sake, keep the number realistic. If you’re in a castle, you aren’t going to have 10,000 guards. It’s a castle not a military fort with barracks.

2. Your character is realistic. They're people, they have flaws, and they are not experts in every field. They aren't immortal. You can't just pull something out of your ass to make things go in your favor. Work with what you started with. Give your character flaws. Give them fears. Give them hopes and dreams and aspirations. Give them personality quirks. And, when RPing, if they are in battle, make them get hurt! No one will come out of a battle completely unscathed, it just doesn’t happen. You want an example? One of my characters got his hand blown off. Another has split personality disorder and argues with himself. Another is covered in scars. Another is old. I’ve got one who’s obsessive and doesn’t really have expertise in anything. Another one is an addict. Give them flaws. It adds a whole new depth to the character and makes others think of them as real people.

3. Good grammar! This should go without saying. Use good sentence structure, please. Learn the proper uses for there/they’re/their, your/you’re, its/it’s, where/were/we’re, to/too, etc. Make sure what you’ve written would make sense if said out loud. Use spell check. Double check before posting to make sure there isn’t anything you forgot. It’s a proven fact that poor grammar makes you look less intelligent, and so far it’s held true. How many of you can honestly say that you’ve never once gone, “What an idiot,” when you’ve seen something misspelled? Just look at job applications. If there’s a misspelling on a resume, it’s thrown out. Doesn’t matter how good it is or how many degrees you have, if you can’t spell, you won’t be hired. The same applies in RPing as well. That’s why so many RP forums are now starting to make people create bios for their characters so they can make sure that people are following the rules and will make good RPer’s that would keep to the standards of the site.

4. Don’t refer to something unrelated. If your character isn't good at something, don't reference what they're good at to get out of a situation. Go with what you established. One of the biggest pet peeves I have is when someone refuses to own up to godmodding. They godmod, they’re called on it by several people, and they promptly change the subject, or give an excuse for why they did it. There is no excuse for godmodding, ever. Don’t be one of those people. They are hated. I’ve seen people claim they can do something because they’re the “head of such and such faction/gang/society/etc.” Just because your character is in charge of others, does not give you the right to godmod. When you do, you’re seen as a power-hungry, mediocre, RPer. Yes I’m being mean about it. It’s a serious problem and the people who are like that are usually the ones who will yell and scream and throw out insults. However there are some power-hungry folks who won’t scream and yell, or make threats. Instead, they’ll feign politeness while still insulting others. They are the most irksome in my opinion because there are people out there who really are so dense that they don’t realize when someone is doing that and so see nothing wrong with it.

5. No outrageous claims. Saying you’re one of the top RPer's is total BS. You aren't. No one can claim to be one of the best, as everyone has different opinions on who is, and sadly, peoples "references" are often times good friends that will say good things just because they're friends, and not base it on fact. This ties in with number four a lot. Power hungry folks, seeking glory are the ones who make wild claims. If you can’t be realistic, you shouldn’t RP. No impossibly huge armies, folks. No super weapons that can kill said armies in one blow either. Both are big no-nos.

6. Your character cannot know about everything the moment it happens. If you’ve been reading another story-arc and something happens in it, your character cannot know it happened until your character is told by someone who was there or by someone who heard from someone who was there. The easiest way to spot mediocre and novice RPer’s is when they have their character react to something that their character has no way of knowing.

7. Post length. If I could stamp this with big red letters as something to pay attention to, I would. NO ONE LINERS! Period. Ever. Nothing says “I’m a poor quality RPer” more than short, one line posts. No one lines, not two lines, not even three lines! You should have a minimum of four sentences in every post. Give it a little detail, people! Set the scene, let us know what your character is doing and saying in detail. Don’t use vague, general descriptions. It’s a guarantee, the more detail in your posts, the more in control of an RP you are. Now that doesn’t mean godmodding, you still have to adhere to all the other rules, but if you set the scene, describe the surroundings and actions your character makes, then you can use it. Below are two examples of what I mean. Example 1 is the poor quality one. Example 2 is high quality.

Ex1: *Jason walked into the abandoned warehouse to confront the thugs.*

As you can see, very little detail is put into this post. So your character is going to confront people. How? You haven’t set the scene, you’ve got no weapon to speak of, in all, you can do very little in your future posts with that kind of a description. It’s a very poor quality post that makes you look like an amateur, and will make you look even more like a novice if you suddenly start posting things that you haven’t set any precedent for.

Ex2:  *Jason cautiously opened the door to the old warehouse and stepped inside. He glanced around at the debris strewn about the floor, all manner of metal pipes and broken machinery. Overhead, the metal catwalks hung from rust covered poles, the stairs leading up to them looked to be in disrepair. Moving through the warehouse, Jason made sure not to cause too much noise, else the thugs hear him.*

*Stopping next to a defunct machine, he bent over and picked up an iron pipe that was lying on the ground. He tested its weight to make sure he could swing it fast and then continued onward. As he rounded a corner he saw the thugs and, hesitantly, approached them.*

This one is obviously much better quality. As you can see, it set a scene. It gave descriptions of the warehouse and what was inside it. It mentioned all the debris on the floor, and thus, your character was able to take something from the debris to use as a weapon. In addition, describing the catwalks sets up for possible perils in future posts. If a fight where to somehow erupt and go to the catwalks, you have the precedent for them possibly falling due to the rust covered poles holding them up. You also get a sense that your character is human in this. As he, “Hesitantly, approached them.” The hesitation shows fear, doubt; it shows that the character is unsure of himself.

As you can see, adding detail adds a whole wealth of possibilities to your RPing and keeps things interesting.

8. Powers. Now, this mostly pertains to RP’s where your character has “magical abilities.” Whether it’s Star Wars and you use the Force, to Harry Potter where it’s actually called magic. Nothing is overdone and godmodded more, than powers. Plain and simple, you aren’t all powerful, even if you think you should be. There needs to be limits. Let’s use the force for our first example. Say your force wielding character enters a battle and uses the Force. The more powerful Force attacks you use, the quicker the power drains. One cannot use the Force indefinitely, it DOES tire you out and over exerting your character will make you pass out and then you’ll be at the mercy of anyone around. Let’s try magic now. Say you cast a spell. Your character is not going to know how to perfectly cast all spells; in fact they likely won’t know a single spell perfectly. Set limits on the power of your spells. It’s okay to have one, maybe two that you’re excellent at, beyond that, the power of the spells should be diminished. Heck, it’s even fun to see what happens if one backfires!

Remember, limit yourself. Just because these were the examples I used, doesn’t mean they are the only things the limits apply to.

9. Disputes. If you get into a dispute, or disagree with what a fellow RPer has done, do not publicly call them on it and start an argument. It will only draw the ire of other involved and the whole RP will go down the drain. Send them a private message and sort things out. And always be respectful. You don’t have to be overly nice and beat around the bush, get straight to the point, but do so in a way that isn’t insulting or belittling.

10. Plots. Plots can be great, they can help guide an RP and really keep things in motion. Setting up a good plot takes time and thought, and more than likely you’ll have to let others in on some of it. If you see that someone already has a plot going, don’t jump into it. Many people like to make fairly open plots to allow others to join, however, always ask before simply rushing into it. It’ll show you’ve got respect for the other RPer’s, as well as the possibility that your character might be perfect for a part the plot creator was thinking of, and you could get a major role in it!

Remember though, that plots aren't always necessary. Though they do help, sometimes making an open board, be sure to mark it in some way usually by adding (open) to the title, can be a lot of fun to, and a story will develop all on its own out of the interactions between other characters.

There is no measure on whether someone is good at RPing or not. Generally you can go by the rule that, the longer you've been RPing, the better RPer you are, because you have more experience. However, this does not always apply, especially if you’re an arrogant person who can’t take criticism and does nothing but insult those you disagree with because you can’t think of anything to actually back up your claims. It doesn't matter where you've been RPing. Just because there are people on a forum who've been on it longer than another person, doesn't make them good RPer's. And even those that have RPed for a long time may not be too great, especially if they've been godmodding for years with other godmodders and so think that that is the proper way to RP. One thankful thing is this. If godmodding is the norm on a forum, all the quality RPer’s will eventually leave and the godmodders will be left with each other, while everyone who enjoys quality RPing will have moved to a different site that they can enjoy and not have to worry about godmodding.

I’ve been RPing for going on seven years now, so I do know a thing or two, regardless of what anyone reading this may think. I compiled this list because these are the things that I see the most need for in a quality RP. That and a recent site I’ve been to is absolutely horrendous. Godmodding is rampant, and every single one of these rules is broken by nearly everyone there, though there are a few exceptions. Basically, when you see a good RPer, you’ll know it. If you have to think “Eh…maybe they’re good, they all seem to know what they’re doing and are all responding…” then they aren’t good. More than likely, it’s a group a godmodders.

For anyone who claims this is crap and you’ve been RPing WAAAAY longer than me, I will highly doubt you. Internet forum RPing has not been around for very long, at the most about ten years, when computers actually started being useful. Don’t make claims that you’ve been doing this twice as long as me, or everyone will laugh at you, I can guarantee that. I’m also aware that there are a lot of kids out there who RP. By kids, I mean people under 15 years old. The internet is much more accessible than it used to be, and it’s very easy for kids to get on, so everyone, please, mind the language. Let people know that there will be language if you use it. Often times the sites themselves will have these guidelines set up as a warning that the content of the boards is at a say PG-13 rating. Also, to the kids reading this, you may think you’re smart and know all this already, but I was your age when I started RPing, and I can tell you, I was a terrible RPer back then. I godmodded like crazy, had extremely short posts, all that jazz. Trust me when I say, that though you may be smart, you aren’t as smart as you think. Follow the rules, and you’ll get a lot more respect.

Anyway, folks, if you’ve read through all of this, congratulations. I’ve got cookies and punch as reward for putting up with big blocks of text and any ranting that I slipped in all that. Good job, hope you find this useful, and have fun RPing. Maybe I’ll RP with you someday, if I’m not already. Ciao!
I encourage comments and criticisms. Tell me what you liked or didn't like, your thoughts on it. I ask that there be no insults however.
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Distinguishing RP types

Roleplayers make up a large part of the community here on deviantArt. It's an ever-growing community, and new members join it every day. Thirsty for adventure, these new members leap into the large world of roleplay, blissfully simplistic, filled with hopes and anticipations. They expect a rich roleplay experience full of excitement, and they want it to be delivered!

New members, however, also means less experience, and less experience means less knowledge. That knowledge which new roleplayers need to acquire may be earned in the long run, by partaking in several satisfying and unsatisfying roleplays and learning through trial and error what is right and what is wrong to include in one. I have taken that path, and I can say that it's a hard place. Some people, even after several years, haven't even made as much progress as would have been expected; they just can't get the hang of it. I have decided to let anyone who so desires take an alternate path, a shortcut to avoid the trouble of being dissatisfied with as many roleplays as I have been. This shortcut takes the form of several tutorials, each of these tutorials equalling one step on the shortcut, which in turn equals a dozen steps on the long path.

Now that the introduction is over (am I the only one who thinks it was long?), I will begin on the tutorial itself. I would like to open with a simple concept. Many people already know about it, but some of the newer roleplayers might be unaware of it. The first subject will be the distinction between the two roleplay types which people can use: script-style and paragraph-style.

Script style

This style is also known as "bracket RP" or "casual RP", among other names.  As the name "casual RP" implies, this type of roleplay is accessible to everyone. The reason for this is that it's easy to grasp and easy to start. However, script-style roleplays will rarely offer much character development or plot advancement; it's usually used as a "pick-up-and-go" roleplay for fooling around. The posts in a script-style roleplay will usually start with the name of the character which will be involved in the post, followed by dialog and action done by that character, and possibly, in-between the name of the character and the dialog, an emotion, most often in parentheses, with which the dialog will be spoken and the actions done.
To assist me in my quest to improve the general level of roleplays, I have created an assistant. Her name is Kara Chter. Let's meet her right now in a script-style post to concretely demonstrate what exactly script-style is:

Kara: (shy) Hi... *fiddles with the edge of her shirt*

This style of roleplay, as mentioned before, is casual; it doesn't require any amount of skill to play, except maybe the ability to make your posts legible enough for everyone else to understand. Because of that, this guide will not focus on "how to roleplay script-style". It will rather focus on the second type of roleplay.

Paragraph style

This style, also known as "formal RP", "mid-long post RP", etc., is much more intricate than script-style, and has much more potential for setting an atmosphere and describing actions and thoughts than its casual counterpart. This is what most people will say was meant to be true roleplay; writing a story collectively with one or more other people, each person using one or more character to make the story advance. People who roleplay with this style need a certain amount of concentration and attention to detail when writing. Roleplayers using this style want to make their posts look as though they were excerpts of a novel.

The posts in a paragraph-style roleplay need to be detailed enough to set a certain mood, although exceptions exist. This style most of the time requires a linear scenario, some sort of concrete plot. Sometimes, people will develop it as they go, needing only a setting to begin writing, and other times, people will decide part, if not all of the plot before even beginning on the first post. The latter can take up several hours – if not days or weeks – of planning before actually beginning, and will often feature longer early posts and a better starting morale from the players, since they already know what will happen; it leaves less room for uncertainty and moments when neither player will know what to do and would just make their characters speak with each other without much action going on. Planning lets the roleplay deliver action at a rhythm which every player is able to handle. Let's have Kara Chter introduce herself again, this time in paragraph-style:

A woman stands in the center of the plain, unfurnished room. Her appearance is veiled by an indescribable fog, letting only her outlines and actions be visible; she appears to be of average size, and her arms, resting on either side of her body, allow her hands to tug nervously at the bottom of her shirt. "Hi..." she says in a timid voice.

It's undeniable that a lot more content is present in this version of the same post; it may require more effort, but it's worth it; the amount of detail dished out by this style if done correctly often prevents people from getting confused. That will prevent posts in which the last actions of the other character would be completely ignored, or posts that overlook certain crucial details. For example, I've tried making this last post as clear as possible (although still somewhat short) by describing the surroundings, what the others can see about my character, and her actions, so that my partner wouldn't wonder "where is this happening? what can my character see about this other character? what is the character doing exactly?" and wouldn't assume wrong. Though it may be difficult at first, experience should teach most people how to underline details in order to make the other player(s) notice it and have their character(s) respond accordingly.

---
That's all there is to distinguishing between script style and paragraph style. It's simple enough, but had to be made first, since some script-style roleplayers may not even know what paragraph-style roleplay is; this first "How to Roleplay" hopefully put some light on the subject.
Hm'well, this is my first tutorial. I didn't want to start with something too big or implying that the reader has any more knowledge than what roleplaying is, since I'm supposed to be writing this for newbie roleplayers.

If I made a mistake or forgot to mention something about anything, feel free to comment about it. I'll make sure to edit to include what's missing.

This guide is copyrighted to ~DummysGuideForRP.
You are authorized to link to this page from any site, but you may not claim this as your own.
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Doctor Horrible from Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

So, this drawing is entirely for *AC-unit. She's been bugging me to watch Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog for quite awhile now, and I did recently... and loved it. To death. Heck, the fact that I'm actually doing fanart should tell you how much I love it. I also drew this with her in mind because she gave me my current subscription. Srsly, she's awesome. Go check her out.

:iconac-unit:.

Doctor Horrible (c) to Joss Whedon.
Artwork (c) to me.
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Persephone Thesis: Essay Component
"Happy is he among men upon earth who has seen these mysteries!”
__________________________________________________________________

It is generally accepted among historical scholars that the cult of Demeter and Persephone, or Kore, existed in Greece and the surrounding Mediterranean islands long before the traditional Olympian gods became entrenched. Her origins are Cretan . Like Aphrodite, the mother and daughter goddess represent a matriarchal form of fertility worship in the forms of crops and nature, and through this the cycle of birth, growth and death. This myth, however, has taken hold of imaginations from its evolutions into the Eleusinian mysteries of Ancient Greece, to the paintings of Victorian Europe, to today, each with their own distinctive takes and emphases on the story. Perhaps it is the fact that we know so little about the original tale of Persephone – the daughter of Demeter, goddess of fertility, snatched away into the unforgiving Underworld – that creates such curiosity within us. While we are intrigued by ancient myths, the myth of Persephone appears to hold a special place for women.

Unfortunately, the majority of our knowledge of the myth comes through the poet Homer and, later in the Roman era, Ovid. Both working in the strictly patriarchal world of Ancient Greece and Rome, their depiction of Persephone’s story comes almost entirely through her mother, Demeter, leaving a void where Persephone’s personality, story and thoughts should take place. We learn almost nothing about her or her forceful husband, Hades, and it is only recently that authors have begun to focus on Persephone as a character rather than a plot device. To place her character and purpose, however, is difficult. While she may have been worshipped long before the Olympians gods we are familiar with were instated in Greece, very little hard evidence of her nature and purpose survive. It is the prominence of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the Ancient Greek world that reminds us that Persephone must have been important, to have been a figure of worship in a cult that lasted to the Roman empire. This would suggest she was far more than the kidnapped child that Homer’s Hymn to Demeter makes her out to be.

Using a mixture of traditional and modern sources, I have attempted through this essay to tease out a more contemporary and believable version of Persephone. A modern audience may not feel at ease with the stagnant, Homeric version of Persephone we are given, yet to move back to a pre-Olympian version of the myth and ignore the better known tradition would be counter-productive. Therefore I wished to study both traditional and contemporary models of the Persephone story before creating my own work. This involved looking at the Eleusinian Mysteries and their cult and the few remains of pre-historic Greek religion, right through to feminist views on the story and modern retellings focussing on Persephone herself.  

The Eleusinian mysteries
Before studying any of the literary criticism and interpretations of the Persephone myth, it is vital to research the story’s origins and meanings in their traditional contexts. While it is obvious that the myth still resonates with a modern day audience – female writers in particular, a cross section of which I will look at later, are fond of revisiting the themes of the story – one cannot ignore the original meanings of the myth, and the cult that grew around it.

The Eleusinian mysteries were one of the most secretive cults to flourish in Ancient Greek society. Because of this strict code of secrecy the cult’s practices remained completely unknown to those not initiated into them, well into the late Roman period and even then, the accuracy of the information leaked is considered dubious. A few solid facts are known about them, though. Firstly, that their worship was concerned with the fertility goddesses of Demeter and Persephone, and the changing of the seasons and growth of the crops. Secondly, some of the most important figures of Ancient Greek society such as Sophocles joined the cult, which resonated so strongly that people would set forth on pilgrimages to Eleusis from other countries simply to become initiated. Thirdly, the Eleusinian Mysteries were open to any and all people provided they were free of ‘blood guilt’ – the sin of murder – and that they spoke Greek. This final point is perhaps the most important, for this inclusion wasn’t the sort that ruled the Athenian elections, where ‘all’ simply meant all male citizens of the polis. The Eleusinian mysteries were open to men, women and even slaves, one of the few – perhaps even the only – cults that were truly inclusive at the time . Evidence of its appeal through all classes can be seen in the manner of offerings left in the temples of Demeter and Persephone; where other gods such as Zeus, Hera and Athena boasted large marble votives, the majority of offerings to these goddesses’ temples were made of less expensive terracotta, a more accessible medium used by the lower classes . Perhaps its popularity is what made it important enough that every five years, a procession walked from the cemetery of Athens, the Kerameikos, to nearby Eleusis to commemorate Demeter’s months of searching for her lost daughter, part of which was known as The Greater Mysteries. These mysteries were not confined to Eleusis either, with evidence in other temples suggesting they were carried out across Greece , and perhaps even further abroad. With the cult as wide spread as it was, and with The Mysteries being carried out at Eleusis for almost two-thousand years and well into the Roman era, we can assume that although the rituals and story may have changed over the years, the worship of Demeter and Persephone carried on much longer than this .

While the Mysteries are presumed to be primarily concerned with the harvest and Demeter’s blessings on the earth, there is an undeniable undertone that they were also about death and rebirth. “Thrice happy those among mortals who, having seen those Mysteries, will go down to Hades; only they can have true life there; for the rest, all there is evil”, said Sophocles, strongly suggesting that the rites, and what was seen at them was thought to ensure a blissful afterlife in the Underworld, removing the fear of death from the initiates .

Initiates, regardless of gender, at least temporarily took on names with the feminine ending, implying that to truly understand the seasons and man’s place within them, one must look at life through the female perspective . This is a very interesting notion due to the fact that Ancient Greece was a highly patriarchal society where women were required to spend the majority of their time within the house, and within their own quarters of the house. This lends itself to the theory that Demeter and Persephone, much like other goddesses such as Aphrodite, Artemis and Athena, were worshipped long before Ancient Greece became a patriarchal society. I shall expand further on this theory later in this essay.

Returning to the idea of Persephone and Demeter’s worship primarily focussing on the change of seasons and the harvest, the Mysteries appear to have been a later incarnation of a much older cult. It is possible that the two goddesses – always shown as extremely close in all the Persephone myths – were not originally linked. Demeter is specifically a Greek name, while Persephone is a variant on the non-Indo-European name Persephonia, implying that she may not have originated in Greece at all. The exact meaning of the name is not agreed upon by scholars, but it is always believed to hold negative or ominous associations which link Persephone to the role of a death goddess, even in pre-Greek tradition . How she became associated with Demeter is unclear, perhaps it was an example of religion merging, but it seems that Persephone usurped the position of Demeter’s original daughter, the maiden goddess Kore. It is possible that Kore already had associations with death – perhaps even spending the barren portion of the year in the underground, as the myth goes – and that the integration of the two religions was seamless due to similarities in the roles of the goddesses .

Unfortunately, despite the cult’s popularity and inclusive nature, loyalty to its strict code of secrecy has left us with very few sources about its practises and the nature of their worship. We are even without an original telling of the Demeter and Persephone myths, although something of their nature can be found in ancient sources such as wall reliefs and vase paintings, and through information passed down by Christian apologists, though this latter source must be examined with caution . It is unknown why the initiates into the Eleusinian Mysteries were said to no longer fear death – no doubt there was a form of divine secret that made them feel closer to the goddesses, particularly Persephone  – but what this may have been and exactly what the initiation ritual their worshippers went though may forever remain a secret to us.


Historical Persephone
   As previously mentioned, apart from the reliefs and vase-paintings of Persephone, Demeter and Hades, we have been left without an original version of this highly popular myth. This is partially because The Mysteries were so secretive, but also because it is likely that Persephone and Demeter’s story originated far further back than the recorded Mysteries, even to prehistoric Greece in the form of mother and fertility goddesses.

Charlene Spretnak’s 1978 version of the Persephone myth, later re-released in 1992, she claims, is based on what remains of the oral traditions of the myth, pre-Hellenistic and rebuilt around what little evidence has been found. It is a particularly interesting account for us not only because it allegedly adheres to the prehistoric, oral tradition of Persephone, before it was tainted by influence outside of Greece and Sicily, but also because she claims to have not “’fleshed out’ the surviving fragments of evidence beyond the word-smithing necessary to weave the facts together” . It is a simple myth, in comparison to the Hellenistic versions I shall look at later, and formulaic in nature: Persephone and her mother, Demeter, watched over a winterless world and taught mankind about the plants and agriculture. Persephone notices lost spirits of the dead and questions her mother about their neglect, and we find out that Demeter is the one charged with their care. With her mother concerned about feeding the living, Persephone leaves and descends to the underworld of her own accord, with Demeter’s blessing. On finding the cavern of the dead, Persephone declares herself Queen over the dead, produces a bowl of pomegranate seeds – the food of the dead – and “initiates (them) into (their) new world” . Demeter is distraught at her daughter’s absence and withdraws her powers from the world, creating the first winter, until Persephone again resurfaces and spring returns with Demeter’s joy.

There are more than a few noticeable differences between this, pre-Hellenistic take on the myth and the story well known today. There are two in particular I would like to focus on: firstly, that there is no mention of Hades, and secondly that Demeter gives her consent to Persephone’s choice to rule the dead. While Demeter does mourn and cause winter to fall over the world while Persephone is in the underworld, this expressed permission for her daughter’s new role is in complete reversal to later versions where Demeter is depicted as completely against Persephone’s descent. While it could be claimed that this is because the situations are very different, consent is still the main point of disparity. Spretnak’s take on the story also focuses largely on Persephone herself, rather than following Demeter like Homer and Ovid’s Hellenistic and Roman versions. It is briefly mentioned that Demeter searches for her daughter, but it is for her imminent return, not because she has been lost. It is the only version which I have come across in which Persephone is shown as a powerful figure in her own right, still innocent and benevolent but possessing the strength to stand on her own. This version of the myth is also far less complex than any later retelling, lacking the intrigue and adventure elements of a kidnapping and extended search. Both goddesses are benevolent towards humanity – a trait typical of fertility goddesses – rather than the vengeful figure of Demeter in Homer and Ovid’s tales.

Also interesting in Spretnak’s retelling is the details she offers about Persephone’s role in the underworld. The other two ancient sources, Homer and Ovid, tell us almost nothing about her time spent with the dead, only that she mourned and fasted until she was tricked or convinced into eating the pomegranate seeds. Spretnak’s retelling has an entirely different meaning for the fruit: seen as a fruit of the dead, partially for its colour, it is shown here as part of the ritual in which the dead are reborn:

As each spirit crossed before Her, Persephone embraced the form... She reached for a few of the pomegranate seeds, squeezing them between Her fingers. She painted the forehead with a broad swatch of the red juice

It is without doubt that Persephone, in this scene and story, is the only death deity present. Spretnak’s retelling claims that Persephone “received and renewed the dead without ever resting or even growing weary.” , implying she gained a certain satisfaction from her role as their guide and bringing them forward into a new life. I would argue that this Persephone is a similar version to what would be worshipped in The Mysteries, a strong, guiding figure primed to lead the worthy out of death and into a blissful rebirth, rather than the helpless girl she becomes in later myth.

There is no such figure in either Homer or Ovid’s versions of the myth. While they differ on details, the points relevant to this essay are essentially the same: Hades saw Persephone, loved her (either with help from Aphrodite or of his own accord), and abducted her through trickery. Zeus, Persephone’s father figure (notably absent in the previous version of the myths), is aware of Hades’ intent but, rather than face Demeter’s wrath, he simply allows the abduction to happen. Demeter neglects her duties to the earth in grief as she searches for her daughter, only to find she is beyond her reach in the underworld. The conflict is solved by Zeus, who not only gave Hades permission to abduct Persephone in the first place, but also has remained aloof to the situation until the end. This ends with Persephone’s year being divided between her mother and her new husband, and apparent reconciliation between Hades and Demeter. For the myth to follow its original course in any shape or form, this ending is inevitable: Persephone must stay in the underworld for a portion of the year, and Demeter must be appeased enough to restore life to the world when her daughter returns. Those two points are vital for the myth to hold any significance in an Ancient context, yet to a modern audience this almost abrupt, dues ex machina style ending might come up a little short. If Demeter’s anger is so great about her daughter’s abduction, is it really believable that she would abandon it so quickly?

Homer’s version of the myth – the official version given by the Eleusinian mysteries – concentrates almost entirely on Demeter and her journey while searching for Persephone. Her anger is frequently commented on and, other than her brief interlude as nursemaid for the house of Keleos, her normal maternal nature is hardly mentioned. It appears that the search, rather than Persephone herself, and the deprivation of food from the land is the most important element of the story. Outside of her abduction, Persephone is given very little attention. We learn that she is a maiden, beautiful and “modest and very unwilling”  in her marriage to Hades, but this is about all. Her role as a goddess of the underworld, outside of being married to one, is not referenced at all. Even with her mother at the beginning of the myth, she is not given a specific job or identity. To take this aspect of Kore, the maiden, further we could also say that she is placed among other maiden goddesses in the field. Despite Pallas (Athena) and Artemis being identified, both these goddesses were renowned for being forever virgins, highlighting Persephone’s Kore persona as innocent, virginal and very little else.

Patriarchy
If we are to trust Spretnak’s version of the ‘original’ Persephone myth, even as a guideline, the differences between the peaceful descent into the underworld and the later tales are glaringly obvious. Homer and Ovid are, obviously, writing in a patriarchal society rather than one ruled by mother goddesses.

One theme frequently mentioned in the study of the Persephone myth is that of patriarchy. Ancient Greece, all written records we have of it, is unquestionably a patriarchal society with women at a lower rank. Many historians believe that this was not always the case, and an older, matriarchal religion consisting of female deities such as Aphrodite, Artemis and, of course, Demeter and Persephone existed in a prehistoric society, before the Olympian gods were introduced by invaders from the north . It is believed there were three waves of invasion: The Ionians, the Achaeans and finally the Dorians, and that the patriarchal gods such as Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were brought with them . Much like the Christians did when taking over aboriginal religions, these northern invaders amalgamated the existing goddesses into their own religion, keeping some of their attributes but disempowering them by making them, essentially, more human. Aphrodite became flighty and vain, Artemis practically forgotten and Persephone is changed from a guiding light for the dead into a secondary death god, placed after Hades. This, however, is only taking into account the scant written sources we are left with. Unlike Christianity, there was no set religious text across the Ancient Grecian tradition (or, perhaps, none which have survived), so to take what we see at face value would be to diminish a complex and vast religion. Persephone became a victim of forced marriage and her mother left mourning for her daughter: despite this, both were still revered in their own cult from prehistoric times, through the Roman era and into the Medieval period, before Christianity finally stamped the Eleusinian Mysteries out. Why would a victim of abduction draw such respect that the mysteries were never betrayed, if that’s all she was?

Homer’s version of the Abduction of Persephone, as previously mentioned, has very little to do with Persephone at all, rather focussing on Demeter. While this might have been the ‘official’ version of the myth commissioned by the cult, it makes very little sense that she was revered as highly as her mother for doing so little. This would imply that Persephone’s role in the everyday lives of the Ancient Greeks was far more than just a forced-consort role, someone who had been integrated into a system and forgotten. Either Persephone played a far greater role in the Hellenistic versions of the myth than Homer and Ovid let on, or this ‘official’ version of the myth and not fully encompassing the beliefs of the every-day people. If, indeed, Persephone was pulled into the Olympian family tree simply for reasons of amalgamation and adaptation to an invading nation’s religion, it seems this transition did not dent her importance. It’s likely she was still considered very much a goddess of the death, as was her original role, and whether she was the wife of Hades or not did not matter. She would still complete the role she’d always held, such as outlined in the re-telling by Spretnak, and the Mysteries’ popularity and predominance in ancient Greek culture would prove this.

The Hades and Persephone myth is also often interpreted as a representation of Ancient Greek marriage ceremonies. Arranged marriages were normal in Ancient Greece, with the father of the bride and the husband to be organising the wedding between them. Neither the wife nor daughter are said to have been consulted in the arrangement, much like how in Ovid and Homer’s versions of Persephone, neither she nor Demeter are approached. The age gap between Persephone and Hades is not so strange in this context either: brides were young in Ancient Greece, and while the average age of marriage was sixteen they could be married as soon as they entered puberty, while the average age for a man to marry was in his thirties. While this may seem strange to a modern audience, the reasoning behind the age difference would have made sense in the context. Girls were married early because it was presumed that at this age, so soon after puberty was upon them, they would still be virgins . Men, however, married later because not only would they be established by their thirties, they would have also finished any military service to their polis-state that might have been expected . A particularly interesting part of the wedding ceremony in Ancient Greece is that, after the official wedding – the passing of responsibility of the woman from her father to her new husband – she was taken from her home to that of her new partner. Jennifer Powers mentions that this process was mentally painful for the bride but also physical, as the husband grabbed his new wife by the wrists to take her from the house while she said her farewells . When we compare the abduction of Persephone to the Ancient Greek marriage rites, moments such as this do show similarities between the taking of the bride, and the taking of Persephone. I would argue, though, that these similarities were only imposed later, after the Persephone myth was drawn into the canon Olympian pantheon. I feel that to link the traditional Grecian goddess of death, Persephone, to Hades through marriage rather than combing them into one was a smoother transaction for the invading forces, due to gender issues, the ‘abduction’ situation mirroring a marriage ceremony gives the story greater weight. The primary focus of the myth is on the imposition of the seasons onto the world, and an explanation of death and rebirth rather than the marriage of cultures, although the manner in which the myth changed under Greece’s new rulers is quite drastic.

As mentioned previously, before entering the Underworld Persephone is known simply as Kore: a generic title for maiden in Ancient Greece. It is only on entry to the Underworld does she acquire her own name, and through this her own personality and assets, rather than just ones she shares with her mother. When associated with her mother and fertility motifs, it is often difficult to tell the two apart on wall reliefs , however in her role as an Underworld goddess Persephone becomes a completely different creature. While providing a softer side to death, she is also the embodiment of it and the way through it. Hades was the judge of the dead but Persephone, if one goes by the older traditions, was the rebirth afterwards, symbolised by her returning to the earth each spring. This idea follows on from the idea of marriage because in essence, the bride went from her previous, almost genderless existence in the mother’s home to a new role as wife to her husband. The marriage ceremony in ancient Greece involved the bride-to-be leaving her childhood belongings at the temple of Hera, symbolising her leaving childhood behind to become a woman and, eventually, mother. Though women in ancient Greece had little power, this change can also be seen in Persephone in her abduction to the underworld. Before this she was a child, Kore, and it is only through marriage and her descent that she become her own person.

As previously mentioned, Persephone has always been a goddess of the underworld, and hence of death. Her very name, when translated, means something similar to “Bringer of Destruction”, and earliest, pre-Olympian myth tells of her willing descent to the underworld to guide the spirits of the dead. Why has this, more powerful interpretation of the goddess been so comprehensively ignored? Even with the two myths combined – say, that Hades abducted Persephone and then she found her purpose in her new life – her figure is still one of power, purpose and with a role similar in stature to her new husband’s. I would argue this role has been ignored for two reasons: firstly, that we have seen this myth through a predominantly patriarchal history, particularly in the Victorian era; secondly, because feminist interest in the past has focused heavily on the abduction and alleged rape, the intrusion of men upon a woman’s rights and body, instead of looking beyond this to an image of an adapted Persephone, or if they do they portray the change as a negative experience. I would argue that this is not the case, nor the point of the myth. Rather than the ‘rape’ portion of the story, the Hellenistic version focuses on the mother’s reaction to this abduction. Very little information is given on Hades and Persephone’s time in the underworld at all. In the original myth, according to Spretnak, “There was no mention of rape”  and even in the Homeric version of the myth, the rape is not mentioned as being a physical rape. The word rape is only used in the context “as if she was raped” . Certainly it was a distressing time for Persephone both in Spretnak’s ‘original’ myth and the Homeric and Ovid versions – both mention her delight on returning home and her fast in the Underworld, and the Hellenistic versions of the tale have her obviously distressed and screaming on being abducted – but other than this we are given no information on her conditions or treatment while under Hades’ roof. While a feared god, unlike his brothers Hades is rarely, if ever, portrayed as cruel or violent: vases and reliefs from the times of the Mysteries show Hades as a devoted consort to Persephone, rather than a malicious ravisher and abductor . Instead this is ignored, favouring instead to portray Hades as a terrible, overbearing rapist and Persephone as largely useless to prevent her own defilement. It’s the easy alternative, though a curious one.

Modern Persephone
In her book Life’s Daughter/Death’s Bride, Kathie Carlson continually uses words such as ‘force’, ‘trickery’ and ‘deception’ to describe Hades’ attitudes towards Kore, Persephone’s name before her decent to the underworld. Carlson is not subtle in her viewpoint; at every possible moment she uses violent language to describe the interaction between Persephone and Hades. However, to take the view that Persephone was unchanged and continuously fighting her entire underworld ordeal is to take a singular reading of it, a feminist reading which – while constantly swelling on the intrusion of men into female relations – still paints its leading lady as mostly passive. Persephone, according to Carlson, is not a figure we can look up to, as she was in her original myth and mysteries: she is a victim whose only action is to starve herself. Even Carlson’s use of Persephone’s maiden name, Kore, is disempowering in itself. Kore was a widely used name in Greek mythology, meaning nothing more than ‘maiden’ or ‘girl’. It is a name of no description, distinction, and is used frequently to describe other goddesses or their children. It seems that in their constant rage against the male – justified by the rape in this story – feminism has run out of things to argue about without giving way. ‘But she didn’t want it’ is the constant thread of their argument, but they refuse to move outside of this notion and this is where they fail to do the myth justice.

The majority of modern retellings on the myth focus on Persephone rather than the traditional viewpoint of Demeter given in Homer and Ovid’s retellings. While Carlson’s text on Persephone largely revolves around the ideas of patriarchy and, towards the end, the evil nature of Hades in his breaching of the mother/daughter bond, at the same time I would argue that studies into the myth are now moving away from this more negative aspect of the story to focus on the relationship between Demeter and Persephone and, finally, on Persephone’s adaption to her own situation. Herta Rosenblatt’s Three Poems, featured in The Long Journey Home revolve around the two women: The first of the three, The Dance of the Mother Woman is Demeter centric, looking both at her and comparing her to other mythic women in turn. The poem moves between focussing on Demeter as a good mother, in comparison to figures such as Niobe, Mary and Eve, all of whom are considered ‘good’ women. It also deals with the possibility of Demeter’s own guilt, finishing with comparisons to Clytemnestra and, perhaps more surprisingly, Medea. The end of Medea’s story is highlighted by the unthinkable act of her slaughtering her own children in revenge, so to compare this to Demeter’s interactions with Persephone seems quite a step. Rosenblatt is likely using this heavily weighted name as the guilty conscience of a mother who has failed her daughter. Coupled with the second poem of the set, A last game of childhood, this might very well be the case. This second poem focuses on Persephone’s games in the fields in the moments before her abduction. This poem appears to be another manifestation of Demeter’s grief, with phrases such as “Your mother watches you break it/ blessing your eagerness”  holding a double meaning. Demeter is blessing Persephone’s joy in picking flowers but, in hindsight, this can be seen as a blessing for the later abduction.

Were you Weeping takes a completely different approach to the myth, focussing on Persephone in the underworld. The poem is not centred around the typical Persephone myth, rather it focuses on Persephone’s view of another Underworld myth, that of Orpheus’ quest to revive his wife. Orpheus’ wife, Eurydice, was bitten by a snake and descended to the underworld and Orpheus, determined to win her back, travelled down to Hades and Persephone’s domain and when they refused to release her, he played his lute with such skill that the gods and the dead were reduced to tears as they remembered their lives and the world above them. This is an interesting view to take, as such memories would be particularly painful for Persephone, and one I attempted to incorporate into my own retelling of the myth. The relationship between Persephone and Hades here is not shown as violent or forceful.

"when the dark god appeared, in his glory and  power,
and, ravished, you died the death of love?
Were you weeping, and your hand
pressing that of your husband?
Were you humming the tune
of that spring day
and he smiled the smile of remembering: "

Despite the word ravished, one wonders how a woman who has allegedly been raped could treat her husband with such affection. The word love is one very seldom used in the myth of Persephone, save perhaps in popular culture, and I would again like to refer back to the fact that arranged marriages were common in Ancient Greek culture. Perhaps we can read this poem as Persephone’s acceptance of her marriage, however forced, and adaption to it.

A contemporary re-telling of the Persephone myth, and one that heavily inspired my own take on the tale, is the duo of poems written by River Malcolm. Her blend of Persephone as both victim, and then her change to controlled matriarch of the Underworld acknowledges both the Hellenistic take on the myth, with Persephone abducted against her will, yet also lends itself to the prehistoric take of the tale also. Malcolm does not leave us with a weak Persephone always willing to run home to her mother, she instead transforms Persephone into the queen of the dead who is one with her own powers and duties, and even takes on the mantle herself by choosing to eat the pomegranate seeds.


"It is Hades, my husband, who bids me cease,
knowing,
as those of my fathers’ generation
do know,
that Destiny must be obeyed
even by the Gods. "

This is the one published retelling of the myth I have read that has Persephone choose to eat the pomegranate seeds of her own accord, rather than through trickery of naivety. It is a refreshing change to see her with a powerful mindset, not a cowed, frightened girl. The most powerful image for me, however, were the lines “Even Cerberus the fierce/ whines when I approach and begs/ for a pat from his mistress’ hand.” . Cerberus was the three-headed hound of the underworld that guarded one of its many gates to prevent the dead from escaping, and was famously captured by Herecles as one of his redemptive feats. For the typically meek figure of Persephone to be commanding such power, I would argue, is an inspiring take on her situation: not only has she adapted to a situation she couldn’t prevent, she has embraced it and taken control of it.

In this poem too we find the tensions arising between mother and daughter. The constant repetition of the line “And where was my mother” seems to say that Persephone partially blames Demeter’s lack of attention for her plight, for not protecting her from this arranged marriage. Even at the end of the poem, where the focus shifts to Persephone’s inevitable return to the earth, the tone is jaded – “as if I could be again the same girl I was ... I, Queen of Death, Lady of Darkness”  – ending with an almost ominous note as Persephone compares herself to seeds of death.


The Critical-Creative Connection
For my own piece I found my placement of Persephone a difficult one. Until further investigating the myth and its origins I was highly influenced by the popular version of the Persephone myth, mostly based on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Popular culture, however, views this rape either as a non-physical one – perhaps to make the myth more approachable – or one of seduction, and interprets the myth as a story of love rather than kidnapping and separation from the mother. Amateur authors often borrow the plot or themes of the story and apply them to other characters or situations yet these are almost always love stories . While realising the original story was far harsher than these popular, modern versions, the notion that perhaps the myth isn’t completely negative was one that stayed with me. I enjoyed the picture of the stronger Persephone that these retellings often portray, rather than the helpless Homeric girl, and knew that this would be the type of Persephone I would emulate in my own reworking of the story.

Spretnak’s ‘original’ telling of the myth, along with the poems by Malcolm were the two key factors in my own portrayal of Persephone. As a heroine, Persephone has so little power in the majority of retellings that Spretnak’s image of a strong woman determined to honour the dead was highly appealing to me and something that I wanted to channel into my own work. Restoring Persephone’s role to her also gives her a purpose, not only in the underworld but for herself as well: she changes from an object that’s passed around to a figure with real power in her descent to the Underworld. Malcolm’s glimpse into a changed, somewhat jaded figure of Persephone gave insight into how one might, realistically, change and adapt into the situation. Her figure of Persephone wanting to stay in the underworld because of the power she has attained was a very interesting take on the popular notion that Persephone stayed because she wished to, rather than because she was forced to. That she might have enjoyed the power, and perhaps the freedom that came with that power, was something I had not thought of before reading this poem.

In my own retelling I have attempted to meld the better known Homeric version of the myth with these modern and ‘traditional’ retellings. I wished to explore the change from featureless, innocent girl to powerful goddess and wife, a change which has not been the primary focus of other retellings I have read while researching for this essay. Other retellings focus on her before her descent to the underworld or, alternatively, just after her abduction or a long period of time later, after she has adapted. This phase of adaption, as far as I have read, has yet to be addressed.

The story of Persephone has been given many guises since its evolution into the Olympian pantheon, and not all of these have been positive. Until recently, the primary focus for study of her myth has been in her abduction and alleged rape, rather than in the protagonist herself and her relation to the changing world around her. As we find out more about the traditional role of Persephone in pre-historic Greece and discover her true purpose and power, perhaps it will be easier for us to accept that she is not simply a girl who has been uprooted, but also a goddess in her own right who had a significant role in Greece’s religion. This is shown through the prominence of her mysteries, that survived even into the Roman era, and while we will never know the full details of what this cult entailed, its popularity and far-reaching significance imply that Persephone, and her mother Demeter, were far more influential than Homer’s ‘official’ version of the myth implies. The myth is still popular, taken up by artists over the years and given new meaning and significance as they apply it. Because much of the myth surrounding Persephone and Hades is unmentioned this leaves the story open for interpretation, so perhaps the appeal to a modern audience is that – unlike in ancient times – there is no, single ‘official’ version of this myth and that we can interpret it as we see it. While some choose to highlight the patriarchal influence on the text, I feel that we can benefit more through examining Persephone as a character and how she adapts to her changing world and situation, and how she can triumph through this, rather than leave her as a victim. She was abducted, but it is what we do with her after this which is where the real meaning of the myth lies.
So this is half of what I spent my year doing, my thesis. No, I'm not really expecting anyone to read it, but for crying out loud don't steal it. I spent forever on it! Probably a few mistakes still, here and there, but it's submitted now so WHOO!

Creative Component can be found here: [link]

I feel so dirty. I can't do my footnotes on dA, and it goes against everything I stand for.

SOB.

I'll pop the bibliography here though, so I don't feel quite so terrible.

Bibliography:
- Demeter and Persephone in Ancient Corinth, American School of Classical Studies at
Athens. Princeton, New Jersey: 1987.
- DOWNING, Chrstine (ed.). The Long Journey Home. Shambhala Publications, Inc.,
Boston: 1994.
- ARISTOPHANES. The Frogs, trans. David Barrett. Penguin Books, London: 1964.
- BONNARD, André. Greek Civilization From The Iliad To The Parthenon Vol. 1.
Macmillan, New York: 1962.
- CARLSON, Kathie. Life’s Daughter/ Deaths’ Bride. Shambhala Publications, Inc.,
Boston: 1997.
- CARTER, Angela. The Bloody Chamber. Vintage, London: 1995.
- ELIADE, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, trans. Willard R. Trask. The University of
Chicago Press, Chicago: 1978.
- FLACELIÈRE, Robert. Daily Life in Greece at the Time of Pericles. Harper and Row, New
York: 1970.
- KNIGHT, W. F. Jackson. Elysion. Rider & Company, London: 1970.
- POWERS, Jennifer. "Ancient Greek Marriage.",
[link] Jan 5 1999. Online. Accessed August
2009.
- SPRETNAK, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. Beacon Press, Boston: 1992.
- WITTIG, Monique. Across the Acheron. Peter Owen Publishers, London: 1987.
- ZUNTZ, Günther. Persephone. Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1971.
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There are no hard, permanently set rules for creating a character, but there are things that work and things that don't.

The Basics:

By this point most people are familiar with the term 'Mary Sue' or 'Gary Stu'. They're words used to categorize a particular brand of underwhelming characters. A 'Mary Sue' is just an extreme stereotype example, just as some other terms are. Everyone who knows of them knows how to avoid making one -- or think they know. A character that isn't a 'Mary Sue' is not immediately compelling. The avoidance of the extreme does not mean the character is awesome, it just means they don't suck at the most extreme level.

For all intents and purposes a character is a person separate from their creator. Sometimes a character might be the embodiment of what a owner wants to be or how they see themselves; we call this a self-insert, and this should be avoided. Each character is going to have a different style. Each will speak, think and communicate different from the next character. How they present themselves, what motivates them, how they deal with conflict -- externally and internally -- are all heavily influenced by their history and base personality. Even if two characters had the same history they're likely to have dealt with it differently and become different individuals.

Everything that makes up a character is reliant on their personality and influenced by their past. There should be a reason for nearly everything. Their personality affects how they deal with conflict, which becomes their history, which then changes or expands on their personality. How they view themselves and their lifestyle might affect what they wear and how they choose to look, which in turn will affect how others see them.

A character should be more than the embodiment of everything the creator thinks is cool.

Context:

What's the character for?
    If a character is being created for something like a short story -- where the creator knows all of the characters, the plot and how things should go -- then there's endless possibilities for the direction a character can be taken. Any character can become involved or necessary depending on the plot and can be tweaked to fit in with the grand scheme of things if necessary. Changing or altering a character can be done at any time and is easy to go back and fix.   It becomes necessary to consider the context for a character when it comes to collaborations or public interactions, like role-plays. In these scenarios the creator might not necessarily have much influence, knowledge or bearing on the plot (if there is one) and will not be able to control the other characters. They might not even know much about the other characters. This makes it especially important to make a character that people want to interact with. Having a character who's quiet, a complete recluse and rude, a character who walks away from most interactions if he's not insulting another character, is not a good idea if the creator wants to actually be involved in a role-play. This character would get little to no interactions, and the few they might have somehow stumbled into would end abruptly when their character walked away and wouldn't leave most characters wanting to see them again. It could work in a novel where the creator has control of everything, but it doesn't work in a community setting. If a character is too anti-social or impossible to get along with the creator should be aware of what they're getting into and be capable of dealing with less character interaction. These characters can still be interesting -- but aren't necessarily the best choice, especially in a role-play where the character limit might be one.


Creator versus Character:
    It's also important, if not more important, that an owner makes a character they can successfully portray. This does not mean making a character that is exactly the same as the creator, this just means making sure to stick to what the owner can pull off. If the creator is not clever and witty then making a character that is clever and witty is entirely out of the question. If someone has a hard time making friends and cannot grasp how to get along with everyone then making the suave gentleman is not a good idea for them. Likewise, if a person doesn't understand how to fix cars and doesn't want to research then making an auto-mechanic is out of the question, too. Their book won't get published or the character won't turn out the anticipated results in a role-play scenario. If the creator can't pull it off then their character isn't magically going to be able to. Their character isn't them, but it's just not possible for a character to do something the creator cannot and know something the creator does not.


History

The personality and history of a character are practically inseparable. Both influence and change the other. History is being discussed first, but there will be relation to personality in this section, too.

Why?
    History is just as important as the personality of the character. It heavily influences how a character might act and respond in certain situations and, in more extreme cases, may have altered or changed their entire perspective of something, or forced a change in their personality. For the most part a changed personality isn't usually immediately important in a role-play or story but might play some significance later. A anti-social character may reveal life lessons or confide in someone they trust, telling them that they weren't always that way, or a brazen, courageous character may break down when confronted with a certain type of enemy due to past experiences. The history of a character plays to their secrets and will usually come up as a point of interest to others. A character that doesn't have a back-story, or a very limited one, often becomes a 'flat' character. These characters act in one specific way, usually never change and don't have a reason for acting the way they do. While there are irrational things that could influence a character there should be a rational reason for the majority of how they act and usually that reason will come from their history. If a character is scared of broccoli 'just because' they won't be as interesting as the character who's terrified broccoli because they once got food poisoning from something that had broccoli in it, or nearly choked on some.


Age:
    Think about your day, if you just woke up think about yesterday. How much did you do? How much did you accomplish? Learn anything? Make a new friend? Enemy? Got in a fight with anyone? Learned something unsettling? Now think about how much you do in a week. Now a month. Then a year. A lot can happen in one year, but once a creator starts playing with numbers for an age sometimes the significance of one year becomes lost in the desire to make a character a certain age. The creator wants to make a rough-tough thirty-something year old and places a few events throughout this character's life by the year when many events could have happened in one year. Even the spacing of more impacting events can affect how a character deals with these events and how they are going forward as a character. Multiple problems arising over the course of a few weeks will have a different affect than having these same events spaced out over a few years. The more time that has passed means the more time for a character to have developed and changed. Even the small things, something they learned or notice, can result in some small change and leads to an accumulated knowledge for that character. A seemingly unimportant conversation had with a girl at the local pub may have spurred some sort of epiphany within a character - it's not a major event but it still might have changed their outlook on something. It is not necessary to make a calendar with the days split into hours with each and every event a character goes through over the course of their life written down but a creator should keep in mind how old the character is and how much has happened in their life to result in the present character. If a character only has one thing in their life worth talking about or that has seriously affected them then there is a serious problem with that character.


Impactful Events:
    A angst-filled history makes a character interesting, right? Actually, it doesn't. Usually, characters purely motivated by angst are pretty stupid. A character completely obsessed with their own misery just isn't interesting and tends to be annoying. Not to mention that angsting constantly is unrealistic, unless the character is fourteen. It's not the kind of character anybody wants to interact with or read about. More often than not this angst comes from one event in a grown character's life-span. One event that winds up defining them and, to the creator, 'justifies' them being miserable. There is no one event that solely motivates the entirety of a person, so there shouldn't be only one event that completely dictates how a character should act. Angst can be done well. Usually angst that's written well is more reflective and speculative and a mixed contrast of the good and the bad. There also tends to be more than one 'good' event in a character's life, and more than one 'bad' - sometimes the good and bad lead into one-another. For example the character who runs screaming from a kitchen knife because, once upon a time, their sister tried to stab them is entirely unrealistic. Even if the sister was successful in stabbing them at most they might not trust their sister at all, but that doesn't mean they would overreact to every instance of a knife. If the creator does choose to do that, the character better be a complete spazz about everything or have a very good reason for why the character acts that way.   Different situations will have varying impacts on different characters. One character might be able to shrug off a break-up as if it were nothing. Another character might become convinced they're a horrible person, that they did something wrong, and try to avoid relationships in the future. Similarly, two characters can experience the exact same scenario and take entirely different things from it. Jenny's adventures in Wonderland could be a vastly different book than Alice's, and Jenny could learn very different things and become a very different person than Alice did.


Confiding to Others:
    Certain actions a character does can relate back to emotional baggage they might have. Certain topics in conversation may trigger certain memories in a character - even the way another character moves, speaks or looks might influence a bit of a flashback in another character. When these things happen they shouldn't be excessively obvious; a subtle cue like a tensing of the body, a twitch or slight change in tone or avoidance of the subject is better than the character immediately breaking down into hysterics at the word 'dog' or immediately launching into his or her life story. Most people are not willing to talk about serious past events. The reasons vary from person to person but most people don't run around broadcasting things that have hurt or weakened them. Character's shouldn't do it, either. The creator might have a really complex and interesting back-story for their character but part of the intrigue and interest is generated in a character refusing to fill in details yet give signs of discomfort when a certain subject is breached. It encourages other characters to build a relationship with the creator's character in order to find out or a character who became close without knowing may find out about these past issues because the troubled character trusts them. A character that runs around telling everyone their history from birth to present is boring and the self-obsession can be irritating to others.   This all depends on the character, but as a general rule any character that runs around telling everyone they were raped as a child comes across as someone who is probably attention-seeking and a compulsive liar.


Real Historical Events:
    If a character is on earth and they happen to be as old as dirt, knowing historical facts is important. When it comes to anything involving a character with history, the creator should do the research before they look stupid. When a character is older than the average human lifespan or set in an older era it might be tempting to have had that character meet or influence important historical events or people. This can work, but more often than not it just comes off as obnoxious. A clever or creative interpretation of historical events and legends is more likely to be accepted. A character who doesn't boast about it is more likely to be believed than a character who smugly tells everyone he's been best buddies with Socrates, Queen Elizabeth and Anne Frank. Involving a character with too many historical figures directly can make them seem far too important and, especially in a community setting, dwarf other characters or make their histories seem less significant by comparison. Having your character loosely connected to a ruler or battle by having them play a minor role - one of the foot soldiers - instead of a major role - the King's consultant - can make these events more believable, too. Chances are if a character is only involved in a historical event because the creator thinks it would be cool and has given it little to no real thought then it's not a good idea to have the character involved in it.


Personality:

This is the base of a character, the personality is everything that is immediately apparent about them: how they speak and act. Their personality becomes how they interpret information and act on it, making for either interesting and dynamic individuals or flat and irritating characters.

Keep in mind that a personality is transitory, it can and will change over time.

Why?
    A character would not be a character if they did not have a personality. A character would not be a very good character if they had a simple or flat personality. Both are not worth anyone's time.


External:
    Everything that's on the inside is not constantly expressed on the outside. How characters present themselves to the outer world is not exactly what they're thinking and feeling. How they present themselves relates to how they feel and think but is not a direct and exact projection of everything on the inside. Personalities are going to differ between individuals, and a lot of that will tie back to their history or how they've learned to deal with others. It's much more than just being arrogant, licentious or a goody-two-shoes. It's important to understand how your character presents themselves and why so that they don't waver between a grumpy pessimist and a cheerful optimist for no reason. The best way to do this is to have a fleshed out history. Body Language: A huge factor in how people present ideas and thoughts lies in how they express themselves with their body. Fifty-five percent of how someone will interpret what another person means when communicating comes from their body language; thirty-eight percent is tone and only seven percent are the words used themselves. Adding in details about how a character is moving is crucial to fully expressing them. A character might have nervous gestures, like playing with their hair or fidgeting, and they'll have completely different physical actions when angry, happy or relaxed. All of these actions are important in expressing a character and should be used where necessary. A well placed mention of a character shifting weight or crossing their arms can add a lot more depth and meaning to what the character is saying and how they're feeling than adding 'he said sadly' to the end of a bit of dialogue. Knowing these slight physical differences in how a character acts in certain situations or moods is a great way to know a character better for both the creator, reader or role-play partner. It shouldn't be used to the point of being abused, but it is worth mentioning. Diction and Tone: A huge portion of how a character communicates, too, is in how they say things. When dealing in a text based medium - like stories and role-plays - it becomes especially important to think about how a character talks. In comics or other visual mediums a lot of the tone can be expressed through body language and facial expressions, when working purely with text things need to be stated but adding tags to dialogue, like 'Mary said enthusiastically', can get worn out and should probably be balanced with the use of body language. The tone can come through with the character's word choice. For example: "What the hell do you want?" and "Might I have the pleasure of assisting you?" Both could be said in the same situation, but both speak of completely different characters. The first line comes off as rude and unsociable, while the second is more pleasant. Both could be said in the same situation, but one is completely different from the next. There is not a single response to any situation, and every character is going to use different words and phrasing to convey their thoughts. Some characters might swear near constantly, others will speak in fragments to the point of being nearly incoherent and others still will spin words together until they're spewing poetry. Every character is a little different in how they speak and the possibilities are endless.


Internal:
    Everything the character carries around inside their head, basically. Thoughts and feelings that don't always get expressed outwardly. What goes on inside a character's head is the meeting ground of the history and the external personality: their core being. Decision making and emotion handling is done here. A character can lapse to day-dream or force a smile onto their face while they think of all the ways they'd like to murder someone. This is the part of a character that might not be immediately presented to an audience or role-play partner. Some characters think more than others, and even for those that don't there are still things left unsaid that float around in a character's head. Knowing these thoughts can help when depicting body-language. A stray memory or idea influenced by an outward conversation will spur a certain thought process in a character which will, usually, show up subtly in body language. Their thoughts and feelings directly affect their outward persona. In order to convey a character to their fullest the creator should be aware of what these thoughts are. A character could be in a complete panic in their head, and their body language might suggest it but they don't say anything racing through their head and instead sputter a "W-what!?" or a character could feel hurt by the actions of another and, instead of asking the questions they want answers to like 'why?', they might hurl verbal insults at the offender and storm out. It adds another layer to a character and should most definitely be known by the creator. This also means that a character and their personality, inward or outward, should not be describable in one word. A character is more than just arrogant, optimistic, happy-go-lucky or paranoid - any character could be all of these things. Certain words could be used to describe them but, in general, if it only takes a few simple words for a creator to feel that they have completely conveyed the personality of their character then there probably isn't too much depth to them. Note the 'completely'; a character can be described in a few words but there should be more to them - exceptions to those traits or an expansion on what those traits actually mean or how they come into play and when. A character's mood can have a large bearing on how they act. They may act entirely different when scared than they will when happy. Anger will differ from depression and even these will differ depending on the individual or situation a character might be dealing with and the extremity of the emotion. Just because a character might scream at another when angry doesn't mean that they'll scream at everyone when they're angry.


Mental Problems:
    If a character has a mental illness the creator should definitely do their homework first. Trying to talk to people who have the illness or looking up documentations or dialogue from people with the illness the creator wishes to apply to their character is recommended. That and doing more research on what the illness is, where it comes from, symptoms, signs, everything. Deciding to give a character a illness and then failing to portray it properly is likely to offend some people.


Appearance:

Ultimately appearance comes from the character's present lifestyle and personality. Other than that it's pretty much free range. There are some features that would be completely out of a character's control unless they live in an age of hair-dye and nose-jobs. Other features a character has complete active control over and others still might be permanent but occur after birth.

Born With It:
    Genetics determine what people look like, most people are going to look like their parents - and might have some recessive genes from either bloodline brought to the surface, which means that a couple who both have dark hair could very easily have a blonde son or daughter, just a blonde hair colour gene would have had to enter the bloodline of both families at some point in the past to be passed down. It's a good idea to try and keep a character looking closer to their family unless they were adopted. Tall parents mean the character should be reasonably tall themselves, if both parents have blue eyes then the child should probably have blue eyes, too. If the parents have completely different features there's more to choose from, a character can look almost entirely like one parent and next to nothing like the other or be a mix of both. If a character isn't born in the standard way, or if the creator doesn't know what their parents look like, then the character's base appearance can look however they want. If parents or biological family come up later, though, they should probably resemble their child. The creator just has to work backwards. Most importantly is to have the character look normal for the universe they're in. If they're a human living in modern earth they probably shouldn't have animal features, if they live in a world vastly populated by individuals with excessively bright colour palettes then having a dull character is a bad idea. This, of course, doesn't matter if the character is supposed to have been zapped from their normal realm into a place that they do not come from, then the contrast in appearance may be important to the plot.    


Changing the 'Born With's:
    Say a character is born with brown hair, but they hate it. If they live in a world where dying their hair is possible then they can change their hair to blue, green or even rainbow if they're willing to maintain it. Always consider where the character comes from to determine if a physical alteration is possible or not. A character living in the 20th century can very easily go out and get a tattoo, but back in the 10th? Maybe they could smear charcoal on their skin daily or reapply some paint everyday. The creator should also consider if their character would do this in the first place. The creator might think giving their character a shock of neon green hair would look cool, but the character might think it looks stupid or be too lazy to be bothered to dye their hair in the first place. Likewise a character completely afraid of needles or pain isn't going to be getting tattoos or piercing unless they're forced to. There is no limit to what can and cannot be done, but remember that some things are just more ridiculous than others. Having a character who dyes their hair rainbow would need to have a fortune in both time and money to afford all the different coloured hair dyes and reapply the colours as necessary when the roots grow in. A character with a face full of piercing isn't as likely to get a normal job in the modern world. Adding or changing things isn't bad, just be careful with how it would affect a character's time, mentality and social status. The creator should be aware if the character is the type to make these changes in the first place.


Scars and Physical Mutations:
    First to address something some people seem to get wrong: Scars are not open wounds, scars are part of the healing process gone wrong. A skin scar will usually form from deeper or larger wounds as an over reaction by the healing process, and will sometimes retain the general shape or pattern of the original injury. These patches of skin are usually lighter in colour and tend to stick out from normal skin in lumps of varying thickness. Sometimes they seem to sink inward but only happens when fat or muscle beneath the skin was lost and did not grow back properly. Scars can say a lot about a character, and should not be added needlessly because the creator thinks they look cool or add depth to their character. A scar alone does not suddenly make your character deep. The reasons behind the scar might, but it shouldn't be overdone. Scars can come from just about any physical injury, especially if the injury isn't treated properly, but they don't usually occur unless the wound is fairly severe. A character who has never experience physical violence should not have a large scar unless something out of the ordinary happened.. Even a character who has experienced a lot of physical trauma usually won't have too many scars; the body is usually really good at healing if it's taken care of. This doesn't mean a character cannot have scars or is immediately a bad character because they have them, it just means they should be applied sparingly and with good reason. Likewise, physical mutations are neat and all but getting the mutation or affliction wrong can be irksome and offensive to others. If a character has, for instance, anemia, leprosy or heterochromia the creator should make sure they know what these things are, where they come from and the effect they'll have on the character. It's something that might have affected their entire life and should be dealt with accordingly, or it might be something they've developed recently and, again, should be integrated into their personality and history as is appropriate.


Clothing and Accessories:
    These things change daily and are recycled as often as they're washed. Certain moods might beget certain styles in some characters and other characters won't care enough about their appearance to co-ordinate an outfit. If a character is into dull tones and Tee's with humorous comments written on them that character should not be depicted running around sporting neon coloured suites. What the character does in their spare time or for a living should also be taken into consideration. A character who does a lot of running around should not be wearing tight inflexible clothing or a mini-skirt paired with a tub-top. That character would need something flexible but possibly durable if they do a lot of hitting the ground or sliding across pavement. Likewise a character who does a lot of clubbing and cares a lot about their image will probably co-ordinate outfits to compliment their assets and attract favourable attention. A character who's a lazy slob will probably be seen in a shirt they've worn for three days, may or may not be wearing pants and will have mismatched socks. Accessories might have a value to certain characters, like a necklace gifted from a friend, and other accessories might come from the character's personal sense of style or simply because they saw it and thought it looked cool. A character can have whatever accessories that suit them but remember to keep it realistic to their job, lifestyle and interests.   


Do the Homework:

If it comes to anything the creator is unsure about they should look it up. Knowing a topic or researching it definitely helps in the presentation of a character and will keep others from calling the creator out on things that are wrong or inaccurate with their character. If a creator wants to make a drug addict but doesn't know how people act under the influence of drugs not only should they do the research into the drugs being abused but extra careful researching into how people under the influence actually act. If the creator just shrugs and assumes that the drug used makes them act crazy and proceeds to make their character act over the top then someone is going to call them out on it.

If the creator doesn't do the research properly they might have to deal with someone who does and isn't very happy about it. Do the research - even if the creator is sure about a subject they should double-check just in case.
Got Questions? Ask.

Nine miles long, aw yee.

This is what happens when I have little minor mental-breaks about things I see and hear and have to deal with. I WRITE GUIDES ON IT.

THE PERCENTAGES I MENTION UP THERE ARE LEGIT and I can't find the guy who originally did the study on it and those figures are apparently so commonplace now that people can mention it in articles and essays and whatnot WITHOUT SOURCING IT. So, I know the numbers but not the guy who came up with them. APOLOGIES.

This will be around when I'm not to help people with they're characters. THOSE WHO ASK KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

An addition to fears: Up there I mentioned broccoli (previously: spiders if you saw it before the edit). Primal fears (basically anything that can kill you) are usually irrational and don't necessarily need to be explained or rationalized. It can add more impact if there's more of a reason, but they definitely don't need it. People have a bunch of irrational fears that, while they can be backed up by some sort of logic (ex. Spiders. They're hairy, venomous and can come out of nowhere at you.) but there's no need for a traumatic event for this kind of fear to occur, its already been hard-wired into the reptilian portion of the human brain to recognize something that can kill and have appropriately frightened reactions to it for no reason other than JUST BECAUSE.

Also: Submitted this to Resting-Grounds since I submitted the RP Fighting Guide there and this is just about as relevant as that was.

For Reference:
Mary Sue - A [female] character meant to be likeable by all and is perfect in everyway. Usually they're spontaniously equiped with knowledge, magic or items suited to fix any and all conflicts. Their creator expects everyone to love them.

Gary Stu - The male equivilant of a Mary Sue, not everyone uses this term and sticks with Mary.

Role-Play - Basically writing a story with one or several other people. Also known as RPs

Character Limit - Some role-plays have this - where any individual is only allowed a specific amount of characters.

Self-Insert - A character meant to represent the creator or who the creator wishes they could be.

Flat Character - A character defined by acting in a very specific way and generally lacks interesting quirks or behaviours that would come from better development.
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COLLABORATION TIME! Download for full view.

Opencanvas session with ~Kittysaysmeow and ~Terraile! We absolutely haven't had one in forever.

The characters are 3 bird laguz from Fire Emblem 10. I drew the background and the guy on the left (Naesala), Kitty drew the girl in the middle (Leanne) and Squish did the girl on the right (Vika). Very fun stuff!
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Okay, so the first thing I'm going to go over is mostly mechanics of an RP post. Basically, I'm going to put up a post and dissect it for you to show how formatting works. 8D


(SAMPLE POST - DON'T REPLY TO IT) Drake- *he had put out a memo that the strange green substance building up on the pool floors needed to be cleaned up, but it seems like Vlemmy is on vacation again, so he finally gives up and decides to do it himself* *as he approaches the entrance to the pool room, he notices the strange slimy material has leaked past the doors and makes a face* Oh, yeah, this is wonderful… *he drops the mop and bucket of soapy water he'd brought with him, deciding he needs to talk to the other hosts about how obnoxiously absent Vlem always is* 

The first thing to notice is that the character's name is bolded at the beginning - this makes it easy to distinguish who's post it is, as well as is much more aesthetically pleasing. It sets the name apart from the contents of the post. 

The second thing is that the actions are in present tense. Verbs always have a tense -- generally, people use past and present tense when writing, but present is preferred in the Hiems chatroom. An example of present tense is: I walk. He walks. She walks. They walk. We walk. An example of past tense is: I walked. He walked. She walked. They walked. We walked. 

Third thing to notice is the way that the actions are formatted. The first word after the astrick (*) isn't capitalized due to the style, though you could capitalize it if you want to. But past that point, grammar is fully in force, meaning that capital letters and punctuation are used, with the exception of the last sentence in the post. 

Fourth thing is the way the dialog is formatted. The dialog also requires grammatical adherence. Dialog shouldn't have excessive punctuation in it EG: Hello!!! What??? and it should be properly capitalized. Also, one thing to note is that elipsis (...) consist of three periods, not two, four, or more. ;u; 

Now one thing I'd like to mention is that the post is approximately the size you'd want to write when in the Hiems chatroom, roughly a paragraph. Smaller posts are discouraged because they can quickly become spammy, as well as it's hard to infuse content into a shorter post. That same post could have been written like this, if it were shorter, and I'll explain what information was used to flesh it out: 


Drake
- *he had put out a memo that the strange green substance building up on the pool floors needed to be cleaned up, but it seems like Vlemmy is on vacation again, so he finally gives up and decides to do it himself* *as he approaches the entrance to the pool room, he notices the strange slimy material has leaked past the doors and makes a face* Oh, yeah, this is wonderful… *he drops the mop and bucket of soapy water he'd brought with him, deciding he needs to talk to the other hosts about how obnoxiously absent Vlem always is*

Drake- *when his memo was ignored, he goes to the pool room to clean up the nasty green substance on the floor* *he makes a face as he approaches the door* Oh, yeah, this is wonderful… *pissed about Vlemmy's constant absence* 

In the second post, the shorter one, the following content is missing -- detail and character voice! The detail involves: what kind of memo did he send out? Who was it ignored by (the implication, at least)? What is the substance on the floor like? It's also missing the detail about him dropping the mop and bucket on the floor. However, the most important thing it's missing is character voice, or the sense of Drake's voice in the post. His voice is shown in this part: "it seems like Vlemmy is on vacation again" showing his rather flat attitude, as well as here: "how obnoxiously absent Vlem always is" also showing that he's... a jerk. 

You can generally show off character voice by the way that they view the world. Characters all view the world in different ways and have different opinions about things. For example, different characters might view that green slime on the floor in different ways, and it shows in the way they describe it. 

Note the way that Drake referred to slime as "the nasty green substance" in the second one, which is better with his character voice than in the first example 

But someone else might view it differently...
Leaglem, Utsuro-chan, Carneeval, could you show them how Phillip, Everett, and Saylem would describe the green slime? All three characters have very strong character voices, and you can see the difference in the way that they describe the world around them. 

Phillip: *the liquid slips all the way to the hall, coming from the pool's huge room. He winces as the smell and tries not to step —or slide over— the lime green slime, fearing it would have secondary effects nasty enough to make his skin look even greener* 

Saylem: *Stepping about the mansion, he kept his eyes on the paper he carried in his hand, listing off the important details on a potion he was to attempt. Rosemary was quite easy, this red powder was going to give him a bit more difficulty, but he felt up to the chall-- Just as his thoughts continued down the list, he let out a slight cry, feel the bottom of his boot slip forward slightly, catching the wall in time to keep himself from falling down into it, his eyes glance down, his expression turning into a deep grimace at the substance...It was a horrible brightly colored green, staining at best if one were to slip into it. He noticed a short pattern about it...It was coming from a specific room...He wasn't surprised to see where the trail led, his eyes narrowing slightly. The pool room. Always troublesome with messes...* 

Everett:
 *after Drake's refusal to clean the mess the mansion is quick to send a note to the void tutor instructing him of the location of the mess, the substance that's been spilled, and (most importantly) of his duty to clean it up* *making his way to the location without complaint, he does nothing more than stare at the green substance when he arrives at it, considering the acidic-seeming liquid before sighing a bit: it'll definitely need to be dealt with quickly, before any of the guests should stumble into it* 

If you look at the different ways the characters reacted to the slime, Drake is more disgusted with it and finds it really, really gross. Phillip is focused on the color of the slime and whether it'd make him any greener, as well as the scent. Saylem seems pretty disgusted by it in the beginning based on that grimace, and is concerned about whether it'd stain if you fell in it (which makes sense, considering he likes his white clothing). Also note the opinion he has about the pool room in his mental comment "always troublesome with messes," which shows his biases against the room. Everett, on the other hand, is always vigilant to consider whether something might cause pain, hence his character voice showing an "acidic" description, and that the guests might hurt themselves in it. 

Now, we're going to do a small group exercise with the green slime! For those of you who are participating in the workshop, how would your character react to the green slime in a way that shows their personality? Write a sentence (just one, no need for a long description, just show me their thoughts when they first see it). I'll move the workshop on in five minutes. 

Thanatos: *Thanatos wandered arround the mansion in boredom,after some moments walking arround,he got the the entrance of the swimming pool.* Oh the pool! *He then noticed a strange green substance coming from the inside,he stepped backwards with a disgusted face.* The hell is this?... 
Kazu: *he looks down at the slime, snarling to himself that the new guests wouldn't have the courtesy to at least clean it back up- being the hypocrite he is, he shuts up on the matter and continues in another direction* 
Charisma: *flashing a distraught look at the slime, her expression quickly showed a scowl on her face* How revolting. I do hope somebody cleans this up before there any accidents. 
Kaori: *something sticky under his shoes makes him stop blaming the feeling, without having the need to see what it is* I really don't know why we still have that useless janitor "working" here... 
Saecri: *As he was walking his new found pet Guru around the mansion, it was suddenly attracted toward the direction of the pool. As he got closer he realized the sudden smell protruding from the place> he stuck his tongue out at the scene and was grateful to be able to fly above the sickly green slime.* 
Jeje: *He was rather curious about the green substance and had moved closer to it, crouching only an arms length away and prodding at it with the tip of his spear.* Oh, thats not good? *He questioned with surprise as the green goo stuck to his spear.* 
Elizabeth: *She looks down at the substance on the floor. She tilts her head, wondering what it was. Though not keen enough to find out for herself, she keeps some distance from it as she looks to see where it came from.* 
Irina: *she stares at a green looking slime, that she is able to see a little of the colour means that it is an intense green. , somehow she is curious about that, but stays away from it, she isn't sure if the slime would attack her or not* 
Kama *walking past the entrance of the pool, she noticed a bright green substance. She knealt down and prodded it with her finger, it was cold and slimey*Ugh... 
Lori:*she stops with her foot in the air, hovering over the green slime, oh great, who was the idiot who had made with mess? ...But then on the other hand...The other guest might have trouble getting out of it, that'd be a easy way to score a couple of easily caught dreams. she smirked down at the goo* 
Ariana *Walking down the hallway Ariana suddenly stood still when she noticed a green liquid on the floor. Her expression changed when she smelled the disgusting scent comming from the slime, and she takes a few steps back trying to get away from the horrible smell* 

Thanatos is pretty grossed out by the green slime, just like Drake was. Kazu, on the other hand, isn't so much worried about the green slime as he assumes that the new guests were the cause of it (he's a jerk). Charisma starts off being upset about the slime, but then shows concern for other guests (she, like Everett, cares about the fate of the other guests). Kaori has the same bias against Vlemmy as Drake does, and it shows in his attitude. Saecri seems to be disgusted by the slime as well. Jeje, on the other hand, isn't disgusted by the slime and is quite curious about it, showing some courage (or perhaps na•vetŽ!). 

Elizabeth is cautious about the slime but curious at the same time, and Irina seems to be having the same reaction. But you can see character personalities pretty clearly just from the way that they're reacting to it. Compare Irina's reaction to Jeje's, for example. Irina shows a personality of caution while Jeje is much more curious and daring, and it shows from their reaction.

I'd have to say that Kama's the most reckless of them all, though, considering she's willing to touch the slime. She's either extremely brave or a bit dense. Now, let's compare Kama's reaction to Jeje. We have two brave and curious characters here, but the different is that one is more cautious in his curiosity (he prodded it with his spear) while the other is more accurately reckless, as she put herself in potential danger by touching it (what if Everett was right, and it was acidic?). 


Anyway, so moving on from this exercise, the way that your character reacts to certain details will reveal parts about their personality. Kazu is an asshole. Jeje is curious. Kama is reckless. And so forth! 

Now, moving on. Character voice is how you reveal information about your character in the post, but you also need other types of description to flesh it out, and one way to do so is by showing the character's thoughts. Sometimes you can imply the thoughts based on the description in the post, but you can also outright say what's going through their head by putting their thoughts in italics within the asterisks. 

(SAMPLE POSTS - DON'T RESPOND) Drake- *after spending a good hour cleaning up the green mess, he's now considering how much he wants to punch Vlemmy in the face* *with a sigh, he tries cleaning the green slime that's adhering to his clothes and skin off, but it doesn't want to come off* *grumbling, he looks at the pool and contemplates whether he wants to just jump in, even if it'd turn the water yellow*

Drake- *after spending a good hour cleaning up the green mess, he wipes his hands on his pants and stares at the yellow-filled bucket* *God damn it, Vlemmy, you lazy piece of shit. Why the fuck can't you ever do your job?* *he tries to get the green slime off himself, as it turned out to be rather adhesive, then glances toward the pool* *Hmph… maybe I should just jump in there. The water might turn yellow, but who cares… the guests can deal with it!

There's a whole lot more Drake voice in the thought italics than in the description. You can really show off a character's personality by revealing their thoughts. For example, god in heaven, does Drake swear a lot... 

Now, another short exercise... write a post about your character slipping and falling into the green slime, but reveal their thoughts directly by showing their thoughts in italics within the asterisks. 

Phillip: *as he enters the dirty room, he smirks at the sight of Drake. Rushing to say hello, he slides over an overly slippy puddle and, with a splash, he falls in his bottom on the wet floor* I-It was on purpose! *he chuckles awkwardly* *And on purpose will be when I cut off Vlem's useless empty head when I catch him...

Charisma: *turning to leave, her foot slips on a lone puddle of the slime, so that she lands right in the middle of the muck* * Ack! This is disgusting! Why didn't somebody come clean this up?! It's sticking to me! This will take forever to get off!* 

Thanatos: *The green substance seemed to be interesting,Thanatos decided to approach and examine it,the rotten sent got into Thanatos nose,making him cover his nose.* *Ugh!! This is horrible! What the hell is this supposed to be?! *As he started to approach his boot suddenly got stuck in the slimy substance. He tried to escape,but he ended falling in the awful substance.* *Shit!! This is disgusting! Why,why me?! *He tried to stand up but then fell again,his robe was and armes were covered with the slime,making him get even angrier.* *FUCK THIS SHIT! Who's incharge to clean this place? Look at my clothes!! UGH! * 

Irina: *after staring longer at the slime on the ground, she walks slowly towards it, doesn't notice there is some slime directly infront of her. She steps on the slime and falls on the ground God damn it, this is sticky! Where does the slime come from and isn't there somebody who is responsible for making sure that the Mansion is clean!? I hope it doesn't have some effects to get in touch with that... * 

Ariana: *She tries to walk past the smelly slime, but then slips and falls right into it.* *Now I will smell just as horrible as this slime! I hope I'll be able to get this out of my clothes!

Saecri:*As he was observing the slime, he noticed that Guru was still on the floor, eating the smell away.* Thank goodness! At least I won't have to smell this stuff any longer! *then, without thinking, he had accidently placed his foot onto the floor.* Huh? Woah! *he slipped as he tried to move, landing all over the green slime, Guru still sucking away on the smell* 

Lori:*she slips in an attempt to step around it and fall ending up almost completely covered in the smile**oh for the love of- it's is gonna take ages to get out! when i find that useless janitor or the one responsible i'm gonna make them fear sleep for the rest of their pathetic life! oh i'll miss so many dreams when i get clean..*

Kama*backing away from the goo, she slips on the slick substance and falls into the green slime. The slime was cold and sticky and she shivered**Grrr...**she sees some insects foating in the goo and tries to pluck them out, but the goo is stuck too the insects and her arm**I hate soggy insects. and I hate this slime! Isn't someone supposed to clean this stupid mess?

Kazu: *not quite paying attention to his surroundings, he begins to walk into the substance he had specifically turned away from* *Wha- REALLY?! I could have sworn that little frog face has someone hired to clean this shit up FOR us* *deciding to proceed until dry carpeting, he makes the awful mistake of stepping further into, falling flat on his bottom with a thud* *DAMN IT! I swear these fucking newbs don't know HALF the fucking shit they CRAP as they WALK* 

Elizabeth: *While attempting to avoid stepping into the bulk of the green slime, she moves around it the edge of it and ended up slipping and falling into it. Ah, Damn it! She, with some difficulty, pushed herself back up and examines herself. For the love of-! How the heck am I gonan get this out. She begins rubbing at the patches of green on her clothes, trying to shift it.* 

Everett: *though he's quite cautious when it comes to approaching the substance, standing at the edge and holding the mop a fair distance away from him, a loud noise coming from the hall behind him easily snatches his attention* *Ah--! What--* *before he can complete the thought he accidentally stumbles backward, hand landing in the mess when he hits the ground* *wincing when he looks at the substance, he frowns at his hand* *Mn... I can't imagine this is terribly good.* *not particularly caring to find out what the effect the liquid has on his hand, he's quick to snap off the appendage and throw it into the pool for the creatures* 

Now, as for distinctiveness in character voice, you know your dialog is well-crafted when you can tell personality from it. 
And on purpose will be when I cut off Vlem's useless empty head when I catch him... Violent, somewhat arrogant
FUCK THIS SHIT! Who's in charge to clean this place? Look at my clothes!! UGH! Very... very... angry character
God damn it, this is sticky! Where does the slime come from and isn't there somebody who is responsible for making sure that the Mansion is clean!? This character is angry too but she expresses it differently than Thanatos does.
I swear these fucking newbs don't know HALF the fucking shit they CRAP as they WALK Just... Kazu. Just Kazu. 
And so on. 

Now that we've gone over character thoughts and voice, we can move onto fleshing out descriptions. Descriptions are helpful in giving yourself and the other RP partners a scene to imagine, and being able to visualize a scene makes it more real. It also helps to combat against white room syndrome, where characters are interacting in "a white room," or basically that there is no sense of setting. Setting is great! 

(SAMPLE POST) Drake- *after a moment of thought, he decides that he doesn't give a shit about the water turning yellow, so he hops into the shallow end of the pool* *the water is frigid, and the slime clinging to his skin and clothing seems to become even more gelatinous, like a cold, slimy blanket wrapped around him* Fffff-- *he grudgingly accepts that was a poor choice of action and crawls out of the pool again, laying on the ground and knocking his head against the slippery tile, the scent of chlorine heavily affecting his senses* *slowly, he puts his hands beneath him and shoves himself up, glaring at the bright green walls around him* 

All of the description! This post has the following descriptive elements: yellow water (ew), that the water is cold, the description of the slime like a cold, gelatinous blanket, the slippery tile, the scent of chlorine, and the green walls around him (not that I actually know what the pool room looks like 8D; )
So for those tidbits of description, we can categorize them as follows: sight, touch, touch, touch, scent, sight. 

When you're describing the setting, try to keep yourself from focusing entirely on the visuals. There are other senses too, like scent, taste, sound, and touch. So, we're going to do a short exercise in using other descriptions besides those that focus on sight. Write a short post about your character walking into the auditorium to find the silverware are throwing a concert (and ear-shatteringly loud and painful one). You'll focus a lot on the sense of sound, but don't forget taste, touch, and scent. Go easy on the sight descriptions. 

Charisma: *walking along the long halls of the mansion, she hears a strange scraping noise coming from the auditorium* *she walks in to a greeting of ear-shatteringly loud notes that Charisma soon had a loud ringing in her ears* *she covered her ears tightly and edged her way into one of the leather chairs, desperate for the concert to end* *she glared up at the silverware glittering on the stage, but didn't dare to speak* 

Thanatos: *Thanatos,as always,was wandering arround the mansion. He decided to visit the auditorium because he went there just once.* I hope there's something interesting over there. *After a while walking allong the laughing corridors of hiems,he managed to enter the auditorium. He opened the door rapidly in exitement,a painful metalic sound ran through his ears. He coovered his ears with his hands in a great pain,he started to frown and croach slowly. As he continued to walk along the crecking floor of tthe auditorium,he noticed forks,spoons and knives shining bright on the stage as they crashed with each other making that awful sound* Stop it!! Urgh!!! *He continued to cover his ears getting even angrier. He decided to remain where he was standing and see if something else may happen,even though,he knew he will regret that decission.* 

Saecri:*As he entered the seemingly empty auditorium, with its large stage and questionable seats, he was greeted with the screeching sounds of metal playing together. As he walked closer to the stage, while covering his ears with annoyance, he saw the small table wares all together centered on the stage trying, but failing, to compose music* Ew... *he exclaimed. The food, though they were still playing, they had clearly had not been cleaned and were still covered in yesterday's food that was now giving off a rather awful smell* 

Phillip: *the deafening crashes of the second floor makes him think of a wreck now replacing the auditorium. Crossing his fingers, he slides up the crooked stairs, the jingling becoming clearer and louder with every inch. When he opens the heavy doors, and almost slipping under their weight when he pushes them aside, he notices the unusual source of the chaos: the gleaming spoons dance around the sparkles of the knives, that are as sharp as they'll never be* HEY, YOU! STOP THIS! IT'S WAY TOO LATE FOR— *but a flying spoon dashes into his mouth before he's able to finish his anyway inaudible lecture. The taste of baked handslug fills him, reaching his nostrils, and he has no more option than to sit in a chair close to the stage and watch, irked* .... Hmmm not bad *he mutters, sticking the spoon out of his mouth* 

Irina: *she is nearby the auditorium and notice some weird noises, as she opens the door to that room she hears and unpleasant loud concert of the silverware, eventhough the air which cominf out of the room was kind of chilly and it smells like in the library. In her case the music is much louder, her reduced sight makes her hearing sense better. She covers her ears and is about to leave the room again but ends up bumping her elbow into the wooden door. God Damn stop making such a noise... 

Elizabeth: *She turns her head in the direction of a strange noise, from where she was she wasn't sure but it does sound awful. She followed the noise until she found herself facing the door to the auditorium. Even with he doors shut it was loud, she could feel the vibration the racket produced though the floorboards. Covering her ears she pushes the door open and peeks around it. She looks to the stage seeing what she first believes to be the instruments playing themselves. Looking closely she realized one of the closer of the instruments was being played by... spoons? Leaving the room she closes the door behind her so as to muffle the sound. That cannot be considered music.

Kazu: *upon entering the auditorium, a gathering of silverware seems to bombard him with their vile chatters against metal - grabbing one, he brings it to his face to give his death glare as he examines it* Aah, isn't your life just so JOVIAL and fun? Dancing around all day without any fucking worries? *he squints as the cold silver begins to wriggle between his fingers trying to set itself free from his grip* Life's not so sweet when I'M in it- AHA HA HA! *he took a moment to laugh to thin air before returning his glare, moving his other hand to the curve of the spoon-- the very corrupt thought of holding the thing that had served to the filthy mouths of guests sickened him -- his ears began to fold at the piercing shriek it emitted as he bent the utensil into a blunt 'U' shape* What's that? Why aren't you dancing? Oh, how DAFT of me. Ahaha- *he smirks, throwing the thing back to its collection of teaming brethren* 

Now that we've gone over descriptions, let's get to another fun part of what fleshes out a post... character emotions. Character emotions are what tends to make roleplays go from good to excellent, and allowing your characters to feel a wide range of emotions is a good way to make them feel more fleshed out. Write four one liners -- just one line, because it's four posts! -- showing your character happy, sad, angry, and frightened. The way your character expresses their emotions is part of their unique personality. 

Drake- *his yellow eyes are stretched wide with excitement, and his muscles are locked tight and trembling despite his pleased state* (happy)  
Phillip: *his red eyes glow at the sight of the tunnel, and he jumps a little before sliding into it, eager about the adventures he would find* (happy) 
Charisma: *she strolled along the edge of the lake with a spring in her step, as soon more guests would be arriving. Meeting new people was one of her greatest pleasures! (Happy) 
Thanatos: *He smiled widely as he noticed a little white flower growing on a rock,it had a sweet sent. He started to laugh quietly as he sniffed the flower* (happy) 
Elizabeth: *She chuckles and leans back on the wall, sometimes it was good to just watch things play out, they can be entertaining. She smiles and says nothing not wanting to draw attention to herself.* 
Lori:*oh so silly**She grinned widely at the darkened blood that formed a name at the bottom of the contract. They hadn't even read it thought* 
Irina: *the eye on her dress change into a light blue and she giggles, smiling happily as she picks up a flower, while she is enjoying the nice weather* (happy) 
Happy Kazu: *yanking the cap off of his jar of small, pickled serpents, he cackled to himself as he pulled one out and hung it above his mouth* Bon appe-FUCKING-tit. 

Drake- *his ears twitch back, but had they been able to fold back completely, he would have done so* *he keeps his gaze averted, eyes forced open so the tears brimming in his tear ducts will dry out* (sad) 
Phillip: *the wall presses against his back as he crouches, hands over his head, hiding himself from the world. He looks at his feet, not daring catch anybody else's eye and finally break up and burst in tears* (sad) 
Charisma: *She slowly slinked along the edge of the hall, wanting to avoid anybody who she saw* *tears were brimming in her eyes as she worked her way to the Light Tower* (sad) 
Thanatos: *A slight breeze ran through his face as he saw the corpse of his old friend,his eyes were slightly close,he was trying to hold his tears. He then fell on his knees as he lowerd his head* (sad) 
Irina: *she sits in her room in the middle of the night, hugging her knees, resting her head on them. She sighs, trying to forget the unpleasant memories from her past, runs her hand over the soft blanket* (sad) 
Emily *Her eyes stung with the unshed tears as her valiant effort to keep them back failed.* (sad) 
Elizabeth: *She folds her arms and looks away, not wanting to make eye contact with them. She looks to the nearest exit, she really doesn't want be around people right now* (sad) 
Sad Kazu: *frowning, he crossed his arms as he scanned the mansion for just about anyone to pick on-- everyone seemed to be in their rooms* Gah- Tomorrow -_-" 
Lori;*she holds the crocked umbrella in her hands and feels the tears burning in her eyes. was this really the it? was this really the end?  

Drake- *a fluttering feeling builds inside him, and he slowly edges back, the intensity of blood pumping through his veins like a drum in his skull* *a sheen of sweat is visible on his skin, and all of the tiny hairs on his body are erect* (fear)  
Emily' heart pounded in her ribcage, a sharp sticatto counterpoint to her ragged breaths. (fear) 
Phillip: *if he had a pumping heart, it would have already darted out of his chest. No, this can't be real.... It must be a nightmare. And yet, his eyes are wide open and his knees shake as he steps forward, wobbly, trying to keep the calm in front of the beast that just rose before him* (frightened) 
Charisma: *she ran along in the pitch black room, which seemed to go on forever* *she could hear every creak of the old walls, every scream that echoed in her head* *her heart was pumping hardly against her ribcage as she tried to find light somewhere in this dark nightmare* (frightened) 
Thanatos: *His eyes were wide open,he tried to scream but no sound came out,his body started to shake as he saw the monster running at him,he just wanted to escape* (scared) 
Frightened Kazu: *a cold chill ran down his back, his wings slightly propping from their slots as he shuddered-- his ears pointed almost completely downwards at the sight of its frilly contents* I-I'm supposed to wear tha-THAT!?  
Lori:*her eyes flickers, he was here...he was close. somewhere behind the smoke he was waiting for her with a grin. she takes a couple of steps backwards, where?!* 

Drake- *his mouth seems permanently ajar as he bares his fangs, the harsh yellow glow from his eyes indicative of his rage; even his fingers are curled like claws despite that the sharp units have long since been missing from his fingertips* (anger) 
Phillip: *the acid glare the thrusts against them all could have made all the mansion's milk go rotten. His fists, clenched beside him, seem craved out of stone. Knowing he's too short to oppose, he just turns his back and leaves without a word* (angry) 
Thanatos: *His eyes glowed bright red,his hand was closed in a fist and his claw was widely open,he was groaning at the monster eating the flower,his fangs started to show up* (angry) 
Charisma: *She quickly drew her dagger, clenching it so hard her knuckles turned white* I will not stand for such outrageous actions! People like you is what poisons the world! (mad) 
Angry Kazu: *at the foot of his door, rest a love note that was signed anonymous* What the fuck is THIS!? BASTARDS! How DARE YOU FUCKING MOCK ME! 
Irina: *She rests her hands against her hips and sighs annoyed Oh great... stuck with that kind of person in a small room. Every now and then she hisses at this person, truning away from him/her* 
Lori:*how dared they?! she grinds her teeth slightly as she smiled* why of course~*how dared they steal her dreams?! she feels the hatred for the weapon swinging fools grew stronger 
Elizabeth: *She groans and mutters something under her breath, this was really getting repetitive, if it wasn't the wall it was a passer by it was really getting irritating apologizing for something she had nothing to do with.* 

Okay! Now that we've spent some time on character emotions, let's do a little critique session. Anyone who would like a post critiqued can state that they would like that right now, and we'll go in order of who requests critique. To be critiqued, you must give a critique about everyone else's post too! When you're giving critique, you should write three things -- one thing you like, one thing that can be improved, and another thing you like. :) 

All right, let's get started! The first person up for critique is Iss-Jess. Can you write us a short post (about four lines, or a small paragraph) that we can check out? Try to combine all of the elements described during the lesson - description, character voice, thought, emotion, etc.! 

 Elizabeth: *She slumps against the wall in the back row of the auditorium. Though she prefered sleeping in her own room it was nice to have atleast one night without being thrown against a wall or getting unwanterd visitors. She would have goen to the library but some people knew they could find her there. It may smell like damp and mothballs but she was sure she'd be left alone. The cair beside her was lickingher arm.. Just lovely. She wipes away the drool with her hand then onto the floor. Maybe the library wasn't a bad idea.

Charisma: *It was dinner time, and among the usual hoopla, Charisma was sitting at a table in the far end of the room, isolated from the other guests* *She was wrestling with the fork, trying to eat her Fettucini Afraido, but her usual spark of socialization was absent* * Sometimes I wish I had never come to this mansion...sometimes it's just a bit too crazy for me to handle. *She slumped down in her seat further so that her chair scooted out farther away from the table* Maybe I should just pack up and go home... 

Irina: *it is still early in the morning, as she wake up. The reason for her awaking was an other nightmare, after she was a little more awake she sits slowly up, rubbing the back of her head, notice that her blindfold askew and sighs in annoyence, it's always a fight to make this stupid blindfold the way it should be. As she looks around in the room her roommate isn't in her bed, besides that she checkes if anything 'new' is in their room. It happens from time to time that an item or even a piece of furniture is in the room. She listens closer to the things she hears, like always she hears the sand which is falling through the hole into the room but this moring she hears raindrops, which are hitting the window as well, normally this sound calms her down but this morning just start horrible. She groans and lays down again, staring at the ceiling. Great, her head hurts, the weather was shitty and she isn't an early bird. Oh what a wonderful start into that day... Maybe I'll stay in the room today. She groans again, turns around and rests her face into the soft pillow, which smells musty and kind of dead Or changin the bedclothes. Doing that is better than just laying around. 

Lori:*She turns a corner and presses herself against the wall as she tries to catch her breath, were they still after her? She carefully peeks out over the dark hallway, nothing could be hear, nothing could be seen. good she lost them. she turns back with a sigh, it was the main reason she hated the weapon monkeys, they always start to chase one over the smallest little dream. her steps echos off the bear walls and the dim light coming from the torches flutters when she passes. so those two was out of the question, she tapped her chin, maybe she should try to get a list of the guests so she could keep track of all the dead ends. suddenly something joined her echoing steps, a cry rose from the hallway in front of her. Lori raises her eyebrows then grins widely when she sees the source, a kid. in the end of the corridor sat a lonely little child and even better over it's head an angry transparent cloud whirls around. she walks over to it with a warm smile as she tilted her head and held out a hand* did you have a bad dream~? 

Phillip: *the buzz coming from behind the wooden door grows louder as he slides towards it. There should be hundreds... No! Thousands of fleyes trapped in there* Oh, my, well done, Eustachius. *he smirks widely, and he even bothers recalling the janitor's first name at the sound of the bugs. The host entrusted him with the mission of catching all the fleyes he could find, and the useless old man finished his job satisfactorily. What a feast to Phillip's ears! Not even the stench that slips from the wood cracks manages to make his eagerness fade. The moment that door opens, the mansion will be filled with hungry insects and squealing guests* *I should have done this ages ago! Ha ha, this place will be less boring in a moment...* *his slender, freckled fingers stroke the rough surface and, with a soft push, open the door... And the air is filled with eyeballs, tongues attached to their slimy cornea* 

Kazu: *with a lazy yawn, it had been decided that he was definitely going to mess with one of the newer guests today, whether it be teasing, injuring, or simply insulting the poor souls he saw them as; someone was going to belong to his harassment list and be his victim today if not every other day in the future-- he sat in a chair, complete with a tongue for a cushion, at the side of the mansion's lobby, awaiting whoever was unlucky enough to pass by him at this time of day( that is to say whatever time it was; lurking about the Time tower wasn’t his favourite pastime. He could never tell if his bullying occurred during daylight or dusk)* *he cleared his throat, preparing for the next rude thing to say aloud in that raspy, German accent Olly olly OXEN free, my damn bait, I DO have better things to do than insult your sorry asses all day. *as a few seconds passed by, his eyes drooped from the bemusement of no reply- Who was he kidding, his definition of fun was antagonizing the guests*
:iconhiems-mansion:
A workshop I held where some people attended... ;u;
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Secret Santa gift for :iconraeganleifen:
If you were looking for something serious, sorry. You get what I'm best at--DINKY COMICS. With your favorite characters. Amiti and Karis.
Sorry it took so long but I wanted to wait until after I'd played Dark Dawn to start this so I wouldn't be drawing characters I didn't know anything about. Also sorry about the terrible quality of the outfits--I couldn't for the life of me find a decent visual reference for Paithos, or for Amiti before he changes into his travel clothes.
All the same, I hope you like it.
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