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Forums » RP Discussion » Circumstanial & Character-Specific Writing Quirks

We all have different writing styles, and different genres and media types tend to incorporate different styles and trends as well. But do you have any writing quirks that you'll only use with certain characters or in certain situations in your game/story? I know I have some, and I'm not always entirely aware I'm doing it, while others I'll be carefully maintaining it.

  • Progressive identity. I'll often avoid including "hidden" identity information about characters - those of partner(s) as well as my own, sometimes - until those things have been clearly revealed in-game. Name is an obvious one, but things like gender, age, etc have also been included. Sometimes this goes to the point of intentionally using incorrect information based on character assumptions (though I feel a little weird doing that). I'm less likely to do this much when referring to my characters who are pretty open about things, but withhold info more with some of my more secretive characters. Similarly, I do this when reference others' characters more often when it's meant to draw attention to my character's perception of the other character(s), whether it's how much attention they're paying or what sorts of assumptions they're prone to making.
  • One of my characters, Ghost, has a shifting sense of identity. This includes their gender, and with that, the pronouns and other gendered language I'll refer to them by. For that specific character, it felt wrong to just stick to a single set, even neutrals. Aside from acknowledging the shifting gender/identity, it also provides a hint about their mental state at any given time, since in their specific case, that ties a lot into their self-perception. One gender may appear to persist for a number of posts, but it can also switch within the space of even a single sentence, so... it can get confusing.
  • Another of my characters, Jackson, has a narration quirk I'm sort of developing. Technically, this would fall into the "hidden identity" thing, but in his case it goes a step further. He doesn't give his name. Even the way he gives his pseudonym is intentionally designed to be a non-direct referential. He'll answer it in the same way someone will answer to, "hey, you!" At some point I decided that to help further distance him from his "name" and keep with the idea that he knows it's not his name, I'd try to avoid referring to him with it narratively as much as I reasonably can. (I don't worry about it so much in his profile.)

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oh boy. time to break out the one character of mine that people either hate with a burning passion or fall head over heels for.

<slams majima onto the table>

putting this under collapse because it turned into an essay
majima gets the highest honor i can bestow upon any of my characters: the unreliable narrator. now, i know what you're thinking, "but luscin aren't unreliable narrators horrible for rps? you're setting your partner up for confusion." well yes but also no. i don't ever play just one POV in an rp, so the difference between majima's "truth" and another character's actual truth is obvious.

seeing how this rat bastard has a couple screws loose, it was only fitting to give them the trope of 'the madman unreliable narrator'. majima has a tendency to overinflate the direness of a situation in their head and think they're in more danger than they really are. they...also have quite the problem with conveniently remembering things wrong, usually painting themselves out to be the victim when they were the perpetrator.

fun example: majima convinces the crew that they murdered their rival in self-defense after she attacked them on a rooftop. their narrative - and dialogue - suggests they completely believe this is what happened. actuaaally, come to find out, majima got into an argument with her, threw the first punch, and accidentally knocked her through a skylight. she didn't die, majima left her for dead and assumed she'd keel over from her injuries. WHOOPS.

another fun example: majima constantly has a different version of a story than their girlfriend does. they vividly remember and insist that they fought five guys with guns off with their bare hands. kinoshita, however, politely reminds them it was two dudes and knives. guns aren't even legal in their city.

in addition, i gave majima a distinct narrative style. the best way i can think of to describe it is "emo batman." whereas everyone else gets vivid descriptions and meaningful introspection, majima spends 99% of their narrative shit talking other people while doom-and-glooming. they could probably make rainbow fairyland sound like a depressing hellhole tbh. maybe even make bob ross seem like a terrible human being
oh for sure!

neo-noire detective gets that neo-noire narration
and high fantasy is going to lean heavy on the Proper Grammar
and modernish stories get a snappy minimization of introspec

i try to *explain* when a character has an accent, instead of typing it out in their dialogue. that was a bad habit of mine, once, that kind of butts in / interrupts a reader's immersion (like the voice they hold in their head as they read). word usage gets a twice-over, too, to keep regional and true-to-form vocab seamless with what's being said.

i'm from the midwest north americas, and our idioms and turns of phrase can be VERY contradictory depending on what tone's being used, so it's just easier with some characters to write, like

"oh i'm okay" he wheezed, lying
"ain't slayed nobody" he said, earnest
"and that's your idea of coffee?" she teased

trusting that the dialogue tone is going to register differently depending on who is reading, like my experience of a 'teasing tone' is not going to match what a teasing tone sounds like a thousand miles away. irl i have been 'teased' by a german friend and legit thought they were trying to pick a fight, that sort of thing. so i just shortcut and let the other player fill in the 'sound' of the words for themselves.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

Saturninum wrote:
majima gets the highest honor i can bestow upon any of my characters: the unreliable narrator. now, i know what you're thinking, "but luscin aren't unreliable narrators horrible for rps? you're setting your partner up for confusion." well yes but also no. i don't ever play just one POV in an rp, so the difference between majima's "truth" and another character's actual truth is obvious.

I was thinking "well it's hard to get into a character's head without being a little unreliable sometimes," but then you elaborated and it changed to "oh, on that level." XD Nice. I tend to stick to a much more light-touch when it appears, and still try to set up up to be clear that there's faulty perception going on. Sometimes it'll be hyperbolic phrasing and emphasis to cartoonize it a bit, sometimes it'll be more directly countered within the narrative, like establishing how that character would be a poor judge of the topic or something. Maybe the most blatant examples (and I mostly can only qualify these as examples, not something that's ever-present with the characters involved) are 1, a highly traumatized side character who someone once made the mistake of doing a mind-read thing on (the description I gave probably would match with some types of highly unpleasant drug trips, but it got across the point of why her behavior was seeming so strange and extreme compared to the things prompting it); and 2, a character who... actually might be a fairly consistent example because she lies to herself a lot and and isn't great with empathy/understanding that her opinions and perceptions are not ultimate truth, so she's much worse at communicating that she realizes, but the really big thing is the terrible things she'll say about her absent birth mother that are a mix of facts (that she only vaguely knows) and her own angry extrapolation of what little she knows of what actually happened.

In any case, yeah, done right, unreliable narrator can be great! Can also still be frustrating, but it is indeed a neat tool.

intrusive_plots wrote:
i try to *explain* when a character has an accent, instead of typing it out in their dialogue. that was a bad habit of mine, once, that kind of butts in / interrupts a reader's immersion (like the voice they hold in their head as they read). word usage gets a twice-over, too, to keep regional and true-to-form vocab seamless with what's being said.

Oof, I'm still working out how I want to balance this. Mostly because I'm just bad at representing accents. ^^;

intrusive_plots wrote:
i'm from the midwest north americas, and our idioms and turns of phrase can be VERY contradictory depending on what tone's being used, so it's just easier with some characters to write, like

"oh i'm okay" he wheezed, lying
"ain't slayed nobody" he said, earnest
"and that's your idea of coffee?" she teased

"I'm okay." "It's fine." "That's interesting." But I mean... the South's got "Bless your heart." >.> But yeah, I always greatly appreciate with people make tones or intents and stuff clear, and sometimes that whole "show, don't tell" think really just needs to go right out the window. ^^; Gotta have a balance, especially in RP!

...but lordy can "that's interesting" be crushing depending on how it's said.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

Something I forgot to mention! Some of my characters are... sort of a puzzle to communicate with. It might not be as obvious with ones who just aren't very good at effective communication or who just have a background that can make them extra tricky to understand as more of a cultural matter, but I have some who have extreme limitations on their ability to communicate at all.

My Wild Boy, for example, basically has all the communicative ability of a parrot or something. He's got a small "vocabulary" of what sorts of events and such tend to accompany some specific noise clusters, and that's about it.

And then my mute character(s) tries to be extra expressive with body language (sign language generally hasn't been available in-setting) or scrawl out "notes" comprised of poor writing and simplistic doodles.

The limitations can be surprisingly fun to work with/around, even though that can certainly get in the way, too. But I'm not a huge stickler about making people figure things out; if partner is having trouble, I welcome them to ask for hints and stuff, especially when they're character is supposed to be knowledgeable about some helpful area of expertise. Even more especially because I'm well aware that I'm not always going to be able to get things across as clearly as I think I am!
language barriers in general are great to write, especially when the crux of the plot is connecting two characters who come from different places or wildly different experiences.

i felt that sting when i read 'interesting', ngl i've had mean aunties too lmao
Gawd, I can't even attempt accents in my TTRPG games, I can't imagine attempting it in my writing.

I think the biggest distinction between my writing of different characters is the level of self awareness they have?
Like for a low self awareness character, their posts focus on what they do, and given very little reasoning behind why, and what they think about their actions.
While a literal paladin of the god of self-perfection has a code that helps me keep her actions consistent (she is nothing if not consistent and disciplined), and I would literally quote her code regularly to ensure her logic is sound - according to her code anyway.

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