I’ll be 25 on Sunday, and I realized that means I’ve been roleplaying for about fifteen years. In that time I’ve learned a lot. I always joke that if I was forced to read my posts from back in the day when I started I’d probably hide in my room out of shame. I wouldn’t EVER go so far as to say I’m an excellent RPer or writer by any means, but I do want to share my number one, must-follow-every-time, keep your writing partner invested, hard and fast rule.

Give them something to work with.

Before I go on I should also mention this is not at all directed towards any one person. I’ve just been reading through a lot of threads when I should have been doing homework and writing this up occurred to me since it’s definitely my biggest pet peeve in a thread and there’s no faster way to get me to lose interest in something. It’s like the person who says “Oh, I don’t care” when you ask where they want to go get something to eat. NO, HELP ME PICK SOMEWHERE, I PICK EVERY TIME. (Yes, I’m bitter.)
We’ve all been there: the thread where you simply can’t muster the motivation to respond because it feels like you’re solely responsible for moving the plot along. In conversation I’ve likened it to Dante’s Inferno where you’re forced to push a boulder up a steep incline while everyone else in the thread just walks behind you and claps and lets you do all the work. That gets very boring, very, very fast. On a certain level getting an unexpected response or challenge from another writer is the reason we love to write collectively - it’s exciting! When I’m writing with someone who challenges me at every turn, who forces me to think about my actions, the scene or my character...I can’t reply fast enough! Here are some tips and tricks to get you on your way:
  1. Always, always progress the plot. This doesn’t mean your post has to get the characters all the way across the city or to complete an entire objective in one fell swoop. This means you should add to the story and inspire your fellow writers. If your character is part of a group walking down a spooky corridor for example, give the other characters something to respond to! Don’t be passive - make a story with your friends. Bad Example: K2 was walking down the aforementioned corridor. It was pretty dang spooky. The walls were grey. He didn’t really have any feelings about the color grey. Nothing happened and that was pretty dope. Good Example: K2 was walking down the aforementioned corridor. When he looked to the right he saw a large hole in the wall as if something had crawled through it. It gave him the shivers and he imagined something crawling out of it to get him. Almost as if on cue, A GIANT MONSTER WALKED AROUND THE CORNER AT THE END OF THE HALL, OH DANG, WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO FAM!?
  2. Communicate. Sometimes I get the feeling people are nervous they’re going to do something I don’t like in a thread, or they’re nervous to contact me about an idea they had, so they just sit back for the ride. No way man. There have been many, many times in a thread where I’ve written Matsu doing something unconventional, or I’ve written an enemy in to a thread, or made a twist in the story. Then I IMMEDIATELY PM whoever I’m writing with and say “Hey, if you have a problem with xyz, just let me know and I can edit.” You wanna know how many times people have had a problem with it? Never. Want to keep someone’s attention in a thread? Motivate them by pushing the plot and giving them something to think about.
  3. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Sometimes threads aren’t about pew-pewing enemies in a big warzone. Sometimes it’s just a conversation. Sometimes it’s just a scene. Even here you can give your friends something to think about. For example, if I’m in a more conversational thread I’ll include details about my character’s small quirks for the other writer to take notice of. I’ll include something interesting in the scenery for the other writer to spin their ideas off of. I’ll write an NPC bringing in tea during a conversation so the other writer can wonder if Matsu poisoned it. Narrative!

I’ve been on Chaos for years and that’s because the quality of some of the writing here absolutely blows me away. I’ve seen writers on this board toss me a post that damn near took my breath away with its creativity and how it pushed me to think. At the end of the day, RPing is like a complex conversation. If it’s someone you want to have a good conversation with, you don’t just say “Hi.” and leave it at that. You ask questions. You make observations. You direct their attention to something. You create discussion or make them laugh or get to know them. Your posts are the same. Give them something to work with. And make them think.