Basics : RP Types

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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.
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AngelGurece's avatar

I literally just came across this post. But I think I use a semi modified style of script roleplay (when I did use it. It’s been a little while). I was able to make a story even with the script style, I used () for thoughts, * or - for actions, and didnt even bother using quotation marks for words. But I was still able to make a story before a friend and i had a major falling out. We made a ton of stories. I miss that honestly 😅

monstermaster13's avatar

I tend to do both and in my experience it helps if the person you do it with has a bio ready of their persona/their character that they can use for reference.

Jokerfan79's avatar
Paragraph style is my favourite and I tend to refer to them as story Rps
Because they are basically a story.
GeorgetheG-Man's avatar

I've seen quite a few experienced RPers use "action stars" (*) for paragraph-style while distinguishing between their dialogue and action also.

However, those RPers were doing first-person responses. To use your example in an altered format to match....

*Standing in the center of the plain, unfurnished room, my appearance is veiled by an indescribable fog; only an outline and my average-sized silhouette were visible in the gloom. With my arms resting on either side of my body, I tugged nervously at the bottom of my shirt while speaking in a timid, quavering voice.*


AlicornianQueen's avatar
what if someone uses both? like * for action and " for speech?
I am very bad at this most of the time, but i tend to use whichever style i want to use if possible, the most common one is writing whatever actions my Character wants to do in a single line without including more words to lines below the first one.
Mayya-b's avatar
Thank you. This helped a lot
justjazzyyy's avatar

yo but like what's the difference between paragraph and litterate style-

vipermoon878's avatar
i rp Paragraph style 
FNAF1234FBFC's avatar
Do you want to rp
vipermoon878's avatar
i rp but i use  paragraph style
FNAF1234FBFC's avatar
You mean 3rd person view
Turtlze's avatar
The question is... do YOU wanna roleplay?
shawnthewolf12's avatar
Always prefered the Parsa-style. (Formal) Least, on here. On discord/wherever else, it'll be casual. x3
MatthewDaAnimeFanboy's avatar
I used the bracket method often!
IronBabyGenius's avatar
Hello I’m quite new to RP concept. I know how to do the type of RP where it’s like choose your adventure thing. But I don’t get the concept of free RP. Like how to write one and how is it different to other RPs? Thanks in advance if help me differentiate them
BrightPurpleKitten's avatar
There is a third one, the one I use when I only have one character needed and my nickname is the character's name

[insert my nickname here, Lily]

Oh! hello there, My name's Lily *She says this pretty confidently as she holds out her hand for you to shake it*
Raakone's avatar
I usually think of Script as being better suited for real-time or minimal-delay RPing, such as done on Skype. If you're exchanging ideas via Notes, and you aren't always available, paragraphing sometimes helps move things along. At least, those are my opinions.
Leonardo-ergiT's avatar
Mr.Fab: Why not a third, hybrid form? I find that the script-style's formatting helps with a lot of other things, while still keeping the form of the paragraph style's descriptive power. For example:

Chelsea: [She looks across the room.]

???: [Chelsea sees a man clothed in a purple coat with purple pants, wearing a purple hat and black shoes that had black highlights around its edges. He looks back at her with a very Cheshire, yet somehow welcoming grin. After a slow bow to her as a sort of introduction, he speaks to her.] Welcome! 

[The room is suddenly silent from Chelsea's lack of response for several moments.]

Chelsea: [Fiddling her fingers together, she musters up a response.] Uhm... H-Hi...?

???: "Hi", indeed...! My name is Mr.Fabulous, but you may call me Fabulous, or Fab for short! [He waves with a nonchalant hand in the air.]

Fab: Now, how may I pique thy curiosity?

Mr.Fab: What I like about the above format is:
> compared to the paragraph style, it's MUCH easier to tell who's saying what, and what's happening with what, since there are a number of people who find it hard to read through your paragraph-style example and then knowing something was said because of reading tunnel vision
> for those apps/programs that can't (at least easily) incorporate font changes like italics and bold, so the RPers have to make do with using 'single quotations marks' for italics, *asterisks* for bold, or any other symbols to convey such meaning
> but styles depend on one's RP style, and so long as one's consistent in their version of this hybrid form, I find it much more powerful and easier to logically make out who's saying what and what's happening with what.
EnderCorePL's avatar
Thank you for uploading this!
Killgara's avatar
Wow shows what I know about this kind of stuff...
Timothythemouse's avatar
This is interesting
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