A thread that discusses post length and I missed it? Woe is me.
I'm fairly certain I still hold the record for the single longest post
on Elliquiy (either in or out of a roleplay), which was so long it broke the character limit and had to be split over two replies. It is just under 15,000 words long and includes just under 82,000 characters.
I should stress that that's not the normal length of my posts and it came about largely because of OOC comments; the person I was writing with and I were exchanging PM's noticing that our posts were starting to get longer and longer and between us came up with the frankly pretty masochistic idea to try to see quite how big we could go (and for once that isn't a euphemism). That said, my posts are on the long side... here's a fairly recent 10,000 word
one (with a 1,500 word
part 2/flashback attached). Here's a 4,000+ word post
... and another one
... and another one
. So yes, my posts are undoubtedly on the long side; these days even my short posts are likely to be at least a couple of paragraphs long and the shortest one I can recall was still over 300 words.
So, bigger is better right?
Of course not. Whenever this topic comes up I tend to think (and then immediately flush my brain with bleach because) of "Marienbad My Love"
, the supposed longest novel ever (17,800,000+ words, 109,000,000 characters including spaces, one 4,400,000 letter long made up word and a 3,000,000 word sentence). I can't in good conscious suggest to recommend to anyone that they even try to read an extract; suffice to say it's truly dire and can make your mind melt.
Good writing is good writing, whether it's 15, 150, 1,500 or 15,000 words long). But likewise bad writing is still bad whether it's 15, 150, 1,500 or 15,000 words long. Long writing can be disjointed, waffley, off-topic and unnecessary... but short writing can be basic, crude, lacking in nuisance, unsubtle and evocative. The length of what one writes does not in and of itself impact on the quality of what is written.
But that doesn't mean that the length of posts should be completely ignored either. One person may be able to write brilliantly despite never writing more than 300 words while another might write brilliantly despite never writing less than 1,500 words but that doesn't mean they're going to write brilliantly together. Both are likely to want and expect different things out their partners responses; as a general rule the shorter poster will want them to be more frequent and more focused and punchy while the longer poster is more forgiving of delays and wants more extra-curricular content and activity. To speak for myself, my longer posts tend to feature a lot of memories, flashbacks, tangents, streams of consciousness, NPC's that have as much detail put into them as PC's and various other aspects that aren't strictly relevant to the narrative but do add to a more well-rounded picture of my character. I don't require a partner to do the same... but if they don't enjoy reading that then it's unlikely the game is going to be a happy one.
I also think there's a difference between roleplaying and collaborative writing... and over the years I've been here I'm drifting more and more towards what I consider the collaborative writing aspect, especially in one-on-one games; I'll jump between characters, time-frames and situations fluidly, almost every detail will be discussed with the partner before hand (and posts often sent to them by PM for their opinions before being publicly posted), a more relaxed idea about what characters are "mine" and godmodding, rarely do anything IC without having discussed it OOC and generally treat it as far more of a writing exercise then a traditional roleplay. For me, this (hopefully) means I avoid most of the pitfalls that longer posts can stumble into; the worst long posts tend to be ones where there's very little going on in the narrative (two characters mid-conversation for example) and the writer feels the need to stretch the post out to 1,000 words regardless. In my case, with my collaborative writing hat on, I'd discuss with the partner how the conversation went over PM, draft a post covering the whole conversation, send it to them for their opinion, make any necessary changes and then put up one longer post which covers what would otherwise be 10+ "normal" posts. I'm less interested in where we go (that's been sorted out and arranged by PM's) during a post... I'm interested in how we get there; I favor the descriptive over the narrative.
But again, going back to the previous point, that's dependent on me having a partner who's happy to do that sort of game in that sort of style. Some will be, some won't be and it would be just as unfair for me to force that style of writing onto someone who doesn't want it as it would for someone to force another style onto me. It simply wouldn't be fun.
And I think that last point is the key one.
A lot of us can offer advice on what we think a good roleplayer is but that advice will tend to be either very specific to us or so vague as to be somewhat useless. To take the first point, I could give anyone my "to do list" with regards to being a good roleplayer for me to play with... but that applies only to me and someone else could have completely different ideas of what a good roleplayer is and what they want out of their partners and games. To take the second point, we can all list "good communication" as a key thing... but what do we mean by "good communication"? Some see good communication as multiple back and forth PM's every day, some talking about the roleplay, some just talking about general things. Others see it as fewer PM's and them focused entirely in on the game. Some like partners who communicate their likes and dislikes of posts and offer possible corrections, others find that intrusive, condescending and somewhat insulting. People have different approaches, likes and dislikes.
So I'll go back to that single word.Fun.
Whatever our approach to writing, however long our posts, regardless of how we like to communicate OOC, everyone came to E to have fun and the best roleplays will be those you and your partner have fun. So to be a good roleplayer all you need to be is to be someone where people playing with you have fun
That said, there are still a few brief hints I think are general enough to apply to virtually everyone while also being specific enough to be actionable.
- The basic rule; make sure in each post you describe what your character experiences (sees, hears, touches etc), what they think/feel about what they've experienced and what they then do. This can be multiple paragraphs or a single sentence ("Character A jumped back alarmed and gesticulated angrily as the car sped past him")
- Respond to everything you can from your partners posts. There's little more dispiriting then describing something to occurs only to have the partner skip it completely. The standard mistake here is that one partner doesn't describe what their character felt during the period the other partner dealt with in their previous post but instead continues on from after it.
- Take on some responsibility for driving the plot/narrative forward, either through PM's or in the story threads directly. While more common in D/S style roleplays it can crop up anywhere, where one partner is constantly forced to drive the story and narrative forward while coming up with new creative ideas. It's mentally exhausting so be willing to pick up the slack and puts your own ideas into place.
But again, the most important; have fun yourself and try to make sure your partner is also having fun.
Something that was mentioned here but is a little off the main topic is the "Literate Partner" requirement in either request threads or O&O's and it referring to post length.
Personally I hate it.
I have a note in my O&O's about post length which I think if fair enough; I write long posts as a rule and if someone isn't happy with that we're unlikely to be a good fit. But there's nothing about how long a post is that determines whether it's literate or not. Hemingway... a man considered a literary genius... wrote a story in six words and his brilliant "Old Man and the Sea" is only 27,000 words or so... not even twice as long as the post I linked to at the start of this reply. So to begin with it's the wrong use of the term; being literate is being able to read and write, not read and write in long prose. In fact, using it in that way is a display of illiteracy. Beyond that though, it's also insulting to those who are by implication being called illiterate because they post short replies.
Moreover, whenever I see such wording and then notice a typo or even simply something where I think a phrase it put together clumsily it always gets my hackles up in a sort of "how dare you say you only write with literate people and then make this basic mistake!" way. I admit that's not entirely fair of me, but when you see posts like that it's hard not to rise to it.
I also occasionally get a small chuckle when I see people put up that they do long posts and only want people who will do the same... and then I go through their post history and see that most of their posts are what I'd consider pretty short.
That said... and I'm thinking out loud here... that could be a worrying trend. Are people putting up things like that in their O&O's and request threads not because they actually
write long posts but because they think they're expected to say that or that it makes them look like better roleplayers if they say it? I can't recall anywhere near as many people saying "My replies are generally a few sentences and occasionally a whole paragraph" as I can saying "My posts are normally a few paragraphs and occasionally 1,000+ words", even if they're not. I'd hate to think that people feel the need
to pretend they favour long posts and replies when it reality they'd be happier with shorter ones.