Role Playing

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Role playing was the worst thing that I ever did to my writing.

I know how it is to be an introverted fantasy geek, stumbling my way onto forums and finding, much to my delight, that people liked my characters — characters that felt more like me than the real life me, who was too shy to talk much. I’ve loved and lost some actual, real-people friends on those boards, too. I’ve been there. I get it.

And it wreaked absolute havoc on my ability to write.

Role playing is very different from writing a novel. For example, a novel happens entirely in your own head, and even if you chat about it with others in between writing sessions, every single last word is typed by your own hands. There aren’t any surprises. No quick thinking. You can go on and on for pages and pages, god-moding like there’s no tomorrow, and no one will ever complain or defriend you. It’s just you and your OCs.

Role playing, on the other hand, happens one paragraph at a time. Write a paragraph, wait, read what happens next, then respond with another paragraph. Rinse and repeat. Over and over. For hours.

The underlying structure is completely different, but it has an enormous influence on writing style. It kills the flow, and paragraphs become like islands that respond to each other, rather than build upon each other. You can always spot someone who’s heavy into the RP — it shows.

I didn’t dream about being a role playing geek when I was 12. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write books, not paragraphs. And one day, it hit me really hard that my writing had gone down the toilet. Too many paragraphs responding to paragraphs, and not enough storytelling. I was devastated to realize that my writing had been better at 14 than it was it was at 18.

Goodbye, my fellow fantasy geeks. It was fun.

It took me years to purge it out of my system, to lock the correct mindset back into place. As much fun as it was, I will probably never return to role playing.

Not to mention, I’m, like, in my 30s and married with kids now. It would be a little weird.

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