Roleplay Tips

General Tips

  • No one will ever love your OC as much as you do, no matter how cool you think that OC is.
  • Conversely, everyone else probably loves their OCs as much as you do yours. When RP'ing, all characters should get their own chance to shine. Never let your OC hijack the story.
  • The response of other players to your OC is directly related to how you present your character during RP. If people aren't responding to your character the way you expected, examine how you are playing the character before getting accusatory towards others.
  • Even with the best of intentions and descriptive skills, sometimes your OC won't come across the way you intended. This is a natural result of people having different perspectives, and should never be taken personally.
  • In particular: "Annoying, but in a cute way!" is not a valid personality for an OC. If your character is annoying, expect the other characters to be annoyed, not charmed; and to respond to your OC accordingly.

To sum up: No matter how impressive, how fabulous, how interesting, or how anything else your OC is, you can't expect anyone else to see them that way unless you do an adequate job of getting that across during RP. And even then, they probably won't appreciate it as much as you do.

Stealing the Spotlight

The core of a Mary Sue is about getting attention. It doesn't matter what makes her special - unusual appearance, mixed parentage, social caste, prodigious abilities, horrible backstory angst, whatever - the point is that she is special, and the author demands that everybody acknowledge this.

What novice authors often miss (especially with the current popularity of "dark"/"emo" themes) is that this includes negative attention, too. Most people can identify clearly when a character is too powerful or too perfect, but that's just one way of grabbing the spotlight. Just as often, Mary Sues commandeer the plot in the opposite way. Maybe they're constantly being kidnapped and needing rescue. Maybe they get terribly injured in every fight, requiring careful nursing back to health. Maybe they have crippling self-esteem issues or phobias, and others are constantly having to convince them to carry on. Whatever the reason, a Sue who grabs the spotlight through poorly-handled flaws is as bad as one who does it through power.

Of course, there's a fine balance here. If a plot is stagnating, it's important that somebody gives it a shove to get it moving again. If nobody else is providing motivation, that's a great time to use your character to move things forward - just make sure you don't so it too much, or to the exclusion of others. And if the story is moving along nicely, don't get in the way by focusing on a big character issue that's likely to kill the plot's momentum.

Basically, everybody's character has their own issues, goals, problems, fears, and so forth. In an ordinary story, it's okay for everything to revolve around one character - but this isn't an ordinary story. You need to share the spotlight with everybody else, and - more importantly - if you want them to care when your character is the subject, be sure to give their characters the same attention in return.

And finally, "I'm just playing the character" is never an excuse. You are working with others to build a story. If you have made a character who disrupts this story by nature, it's your reponsibility to see that she doesn't become a problem - not the other way about.

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